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When You Are the Primary or Sole Breadwinner As a Wife

This is, admittedly, a very tough dynamic sometimes. It feels “backwards” to many couples, even those who are not believers in Christ. Yes, even in our modern era. The challenges can be surprising. We think we are “past” all of the old traditional marriage dynamics because we are so hip and progressive in our culture. But the truth is that when a husband earns less than his wife or especially when he doesn’t earn any income (whether he lost his job, he is disabled, or he and his wife choose for him to be a stay-at-home dad while the wife works), both spouses often struggle greatly.

Greg and I were in this boat for the first 17 years of our marriage with me being the primary breadwinner. So – we know many of the challenges first hand and I hurt deeply with those of you who are hurting in these situations.

NOTE – if you are a wife who is a primary breadwinner and you and your husband are doing WELL and you have godly wisdom to share, please, please feel welcome to share in the comments! I know your words will be such an encouragement to those who are having a hard time.

 

The problem with the wife earning more than the husband is that it makes it tends to make it more difficult for spouses to give each other the things they need the most.

Husbands need to know their wives genuinely respect them, that they will cooperate with them and not be an adversary. Wives need to know their husbands genuinely love them, that they are secure in the relationship, and that they have a voice and influence.

Generally, these are the kinds of pitfalls that tend to happen when the wife out-earns her husband  (I can give sources to those who would like them for more info):

  • The wife tends to lose respect for her husband even more than normal in our culture.
  • The wife tends to believe she deserves more control or even all of the control because of her financial contributions.
  • When a wife feels more like a mother who is supporting her child than a wife who is married to an equal, sexual relationships tend to suffer.
  • Husbands tend to feel emasculated because they tend to feel like failures for not being able to provide more financially even though their worth is not measurable in dollar amounts.
  • Sometimes husbands feel emasculated by comments their wives make, too, that compound the sense of shame many men feel in a situation like this, especially if they are bringing in no income. Even if it was by choice for both spouses to go down this road.
  • Wives tend to continue doing most of the housework and childcare when they are home, often because they feel their husbands don’t do things “right.”
  • Then the wives feel that they are doing “everything” and resentment builds against their husbands even more as the wives become more and more stressed and exhausted.
  • The couple doesn’t have quality time together to focus on the marriage.
  • Wives don’t have the time they need with God – which causes them to go into “flesh” mode instead of “Spirit-filled mode.”
  • Husbands tend to withdraw from the contempt and disrespect and become more and more passive and shut down.
  • Wives lose more respect and husbands feel more depressed.
  • Wives tend to want to think about divorce even when there are no biblical reasons.
  • Wives may start to view their husbands as dependents instead of as equals.
  • Husbands long to be treated as equals with respect, honor, and dignity.
  • Husbands are often more tempted in such situations into an affair with a woman who will respect them.
  • Wives can more tempted in such situations into an affair with a man they feel more admiration for.

If a believing wife is in such a situation, what can she do? None of us want any of these situations in our marriages! We don’t have to become statistics even if we can’t always immediately change our circumstances.

Thankfully, we don’t have to be able to change the circumstances, if we are willing to let God change US. There is every reason for hope in Jesus Christ!

God can meet our deepest needs even when our spouses or circumstances may be failing us. Let’s set our eyes on Him and on what He calls us to do.

It will be vital that a wife take certain steps to avoid heading down the destructive road of disrespecting her husband – your willingness to avoid disrespect is KEY:

  • Acknowledge that God’s design for marriage is the ultimate authority, not your feelings or the situation at this time.
  • Acknowledge that God’s commands for you as a wife involve that you respect your husband regardless of your income level or his income level. The command is an unconditional command, “The wife must respect her husband” (Eph. 5:33). That command is just as unconditional as God’s command that the “husband must love his wife” (Eph. 5:33). It does not say, “respect your husband IF…” It is simply our job to respect our husbands.
  • Learn all you can about respect and do all that you can to figure out what this means because this is very key to your marriage thriving.
  • Consciously write down all of your husband’s strengths and good qualities and focus on them.
  • Cultivate a grateful heart toward God and toward your husband.
  • Pray for God to intervene and to bring about His will for her career and your husband’s career and to change the situation if that is better in His sight. He is sovereign, after all, and this is not too hard for Him to do.
  • Consciously avoid associating respect with dollars. In God’s economy respect is not about money.
  • Be sure not to act like “the boss” around your husband. Consciously take off your “work mentality” and be sure you are thinking in a godly “feminine mindset.”
  • Focus on not being controlling about the house.
  • Praise your husband for whatever he does right.
  • Thank him for taking care of the kids even though he is not you and he does things differently.
  • Remember that different doesn’t necessarily mean “wrong.”
  • Let him dream and pray about what God may desire him to do even if it means that things would need to dramatically change.
  • Be flexible with God and your husband.
  • Be willing to let go of unrealistic expectations that may be creating tension.
  • Focus on eternal things more than earthly things – like your attitude and how you treat your husband and children more than whether the house is as clean as you would like it to be every moment.
  • See the good in your husband’s ideas and be cooperative.
  • Smile at your man – your smile blesses him greatly.
  • Use a friendly, positive tone of voice with him.
  • Seek God’s will far above your own will. Submit to His Lordship and hold the things of this world loosely.
  • Be willing to lay down your most precious dreams and all of your fears and entrust them to God.
  • Don’t allow yourself to look down on your husband. You are not better than he is. We are all on level ground a the foot of the cross. Pride and self-righteousness are always tempting for everyone but they are even more tempting in this situation. Pride and self-righteousness on a wife’s part can absolutely destroy a marriage because pride is the root sin of every other sin.
  • Don’t allow yourself to hold onto resentment or bitterness. Those things would also be able to destroy a marriage. Deal with your pain, hurt, unmet expectations, and anger before God. Hash through all of it with a godly mentoring wife, too, if needed. Don’t allow toxic thoughts to build up in your heart.
  • Focus on taking your thoughts captive for Christ.
  • Don’t listen to the enemy. He is the accuser. When you realize you are thinking lots of accusatory thoughts toward your husband, it is time to pour everything out before God and to let Him help you reject any sinful thoughts and build your life only on His truth. Satan would LOVE to destroy your marriage through your thought life.
  • Carve out the time you need with God to be as close to Him as possible and as filled up with Him as possible. That is the only way to be a godly wife in any situation. But in more difficult circumstances, you will need Him all the more. You can’t be a godly wife if you starve yourself spiritually. This is not something any of us can afford to skimp.
  • Pray against Satan’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy your marriage and family. Yield yourself fully to the Lordship of Christ and let Him lead you and your husband.  (James 4:7) This is spiritual warfare!
  • Clear your plate of everything that is unnecessary.
  • Take care of your health, your diet, your exercise, and your soul. No one else can do those things for you. You will need to be filled up so that you have something to give to your husband and family.
  • If you don’t have time for God and you don’t have time to take care of yourself and your children the way you want to – pray! Ask God to show you what He wants you to change so that you can make His priorities for you the most important priorities in your life.
  • Talk with your husband about your concerns in a respectful way after much prayer and as the Spirit prompts you.
  • Be a team and conquer things together.
  • Think of your money as “our money” or even better, as “God’s money,” and remember that we are simply to be good stewards of the blessings God has given us for His glory. It is not about us.
  • Let him know that you want to honor God’s design for the marriage no matter who earns more and that you are thankful for your husband and that God will lead you through him.
  • Remember that your husband is not your enemy.
  • Remember that our culture’s ideas have infected us all and that some of our ideas need to be questioned and rejected because they are not good for us. Be willing to question everything in light of God’s Word and be willing to change anything that is not working or that is leading to temptation.
  • ENJOY your husband and children. Breathe. Relax. Slow down.
  • Rest in God’s love, sovereignty, and peace. Let God restore your soul.
  • Approach God with complete humility. Trusting that God’s ways are much higher than your own. Don’t lean on your understanding but completely depend on God’s Word and His wisdom.
  • Approach your husband with great humility, knowing that you are both of equal worth in God’s sight.
  • Seek God’s approval not the world’s approval. Ultimately, the only opinion that will matter is His when we stand before Him one day.
  • Seek to become the woman God calls you to be.
  • Appreciate your husband’s wisdom and intelligence.
  • Be willing to honor his God-given leadership
  • Commit to the marriage and don’t threaten divorce for unbiblical reasons. Let God help heal you, your husband, and your marriage. There are times separation may be necessary. But don’t leave just because you are not happy. Seek God and He can fill you up and heal your soul.
  • If you don’t know Jesus as Your Savior and Lord, I invite you to come to Him.

RESOURCES:

Signs Your Husband Feels  Disrespected

Husbands Share What Is Disrespectful to Them

What Is Respect in Marriage?

How to Encourage Your Husband to Lead

Why Won’t My Husband Lead? (a husband shares his insights)

A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage

What Is Godly Spiritual Leadership?

 

BOOKS THAT MAY BE A BLESSING:
The Life Ready Woman – by Shaunti Feldhahn (How to strip away the things that don’t matter and focus on the priorities God calls us to  that bring real peace and fulfillment.)

Radical Womanhood – by Carolyn McCulley (How we have all been impacted by feminism in good and bad ways, even in the church, and what godly femininity really means.)

The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord – by April Cassidy 🙂

PS:

If you need more resources, let me know. I have lots more!

 

50 thoughts on “When You Are the Primary or Sole Breadwinner As a Wife

  1. Great post April!

    I can personally attest to all of the issues brought up except for the last two. I have always been the main or sole breadwinner and I resented my husband for years. Actually, our entire relationship. I felt like he was not qualified to run our finances or our family. Ultimately, my not trusting my husband was me not trusting our Heavenly Father. That was hard to swallow.

    I eventually gave the finances to my husband (actually because of one of April’s posts years ago!) but I was very critical of how he did things. Once I let go of that control and realized that it wasn’t my job or organizational skills that had kept us afloat all the years, but the Most High, I could relax a bit. My marriage got better when I started to focus on the fact that my husband is a phenomenal spiritual leader, and money can’t buy that. He provides things that are way more important than money to our family.

    I highly recommend implementing the steps that April has suggested. Remember ladies, your husband is your ministry!

    1. I love your testimony and the phrase “your husband is your ministry”! I can guess but I would love to hear more specifically about what that means.

      Blessings x

      1. Hi Hope!

        Certainly check out April’s post, as I learned this from her.

        What I mean is that so many of us realize that we should guard our behavior in front of strangers, peers, church members, and co-workers because our actions are a reflection of the Most High. We don’t want people to look at our bad behavior and get the wrong idea about our Savior, as our actions should reflect him. Many of us overlook the fact that our guarding of our behavior should begin with our husbands! We should start with causing him to look at our actions and say, “Father, you do love me, you are good, and merciful, and forgiving because you gave me this woman to help me!” If our actions cause our husbands to despair, or regret his decision to marry us and to question his own worth then we are not making our Master, the one who gifted us to our husbands, look good. How’d I do April?

  2. Hi April, I would like some guidance. I make over 3 times my husband’s salary and basically pay all of the bills. He thinks he doesn’t need to contribute to the household because my salary is high. Last year, he lent loads of money to friends who asked for his help. He can’t say no to them when they ask him for a loan. Whereas, when I ask him to contribute to the household expenses, he says that my salary can easily cover the household expenses whereas many of his friends and relatives are struggling financially. I’m glad he has a generous heart with his friends but this situation makes me feel used and unappreciated for all that I contribute and a huge burden of responsibility for the finances of the entire family. We spoke about this and he promised to stop lending money to his friends. Please give me advice on how I can handle this situation in a biblical way and focus on trusting God to provide when my husband can’t or simply chooses to put his friends’ financial needs before my own.

    1. Nikki,

      I would hope that after that conversation, your husband would be showing greater respect for your feelings and concerns about this. Has he loaned money to his friends again without your permission since you talked about how you felt used and unappreciated?

      1. No he hasn’t. He promised that he will try to change this year and learn to say no to his friends. My struggle is trusting that he will.

          1. November. He promised me this month that he will change his ways and set better boundaries with his friends. I’m just insecure and fearful about trusting him. We’ve only been together for 2 years and I’ve been insecure and afraid to trust others for most of my life. My father abandoned our family for another woman when I was a teenager so I have problems trusting others.

          2. Nikki,

            Maybe there is nothing you really need to do at this point but trust the situation to God and lay your fears down?

            I think it could be helpful, once (or at most, a few times per year), to say something like, “Thanks so much for showing honor and appreciation to me by not giving money to people without talking with me about it first. I really love your generous heart. But I also am thankful to be able to feel safe and secure financially knowing that you care about my feelings and concerns. I really respect that about you.”

            If your husband were to violate your trust in this matter again, you would be able to respectfully confront him and discuss what to do from that point on – after much prayer. But God will be with you. You don’t have to be afraid. If it does happen again, God can use that conflict to build greater intimacy and to work for good in your marriage. Romans 8:28-29 applies in all situations for us as believers!

            Much love!

          3. Nikki,
            Another way of approaching this issue might be to look up scripture about giving and loaning money together and to pray about if there may be a set amount that you may want to decide together to give to those in need. Or you may want to consider praying together about each request. There is balance in scripture. God emphasizes the importance of people working. In fact, “if a man won’t work, he doesn’t eat,” is what 2 Thess. 3:10 says. And “if a man does not provide for his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” 1 Tim. 5:8.

            A few ways to approach this may be to think about:
            – are the friends who want money willing to work and able to work or are they truly in need?
            – are we providing for our own family? Will loaning this money to friends impact our ability to properly provide for our children?

            There are other verses about loaning money and generosity, as well. One of the things God says is that He “love a cheerful giver” and that no one is supposed to give “under compulsion.” So if you are participating in giving, you need to be participating generously, not without knowing about it, and not against your will. There are verses about lending money freely to those who ask, as well. But this requires spiritual discernment and wisdom from the Holy Spirit, in my view. We don’t want to loan money to support a drug or alcohol habit, for example, or to provide for someone who could be working but won’t. But there may be times when friends are in true need that loaning money could be a blessing. Or, God may prompt y’all to invite these friends who are in need to work for you so that they learn to take more responsibility. I don’t know their situation. I don’t know how often they expect to be able to receive loans or if they pay them back.

            I pray for God to give you and your husband wisdom and unity on this issue and that He may be greatly glorified in your lives – and all of our lives – financially, and in every way. 🙂

          4. April,
            I’m taking this opportunity to say that your Christ-like love shines through every post and message you write. You are a great comfort. You are like an unknown saint in the love and devotion you show to us through this ministry. Mother Teresa was out there in the public eye doing loving deeds, but the loving deeds you do through this ministry are just as valuable and remarkable. You really exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…and you are inspiring us to do the same. God will bless you immeasurably for demonstrating his love to the world.

          5. Nikki,

            It is my prayer that this may be a place where God’s Spirit directs our communication and stirs up His unity, love, truth, and edification.

            Sometimes written communication can be really difficult – even with people we know. It is easy to misunderstand or misinterpret tone or to make wrong assumptions about motives when we can’t see facial expressions and body language and we can’t hear tone of voice.

            Then things can get more tricky when we are communicating online with people we don’t really know very well. Add to that so many different backgrounds, filters, experiences, and perspectives.

            I’m so thankful for God’s Spirit because He is able to help us to see each other with His love and from His perspective and He can help us extend understanding, compassion, sympathy, and grace to one another. I love the way each person’s perspective can help stretch our own understanding and increase our faith. We don’t have to agree on everything as believers in order to have unity. Like my pastor says, “Unity in the church is not about sameness or uniformity, it is about having the same purpose.”

            My longing here is to seek to pour God’s healing out on those who are hurting and to encourage understanding between us so that we might be able to support and bless each other on this amazing journey. I pray that God may empower each of us to grow much more deeply in our faith and that He might be greatly glorified in each of our lives and situations.

            Thanks for the affirmation. 🙂

            Much love!
            April

  3. I appreciate all your insights that you write. I thank you for reaching out to those of us who do not live a so-called normal Christian life. Here is my take on it based on the many different people I have met or read about…and i am bad at remembering names. .

    I have come to the conclusion that you never know what God is going to do in our lives or the plans He has for us. To all those who think they are failing God and missing out on his blessings because you do not or cannot follow a certain prescribed plan as outlined in the bible, take heart. God does NOT make cookie cutter christians. Nor does he give us cookie cutter lives. Just when we think life is supposed to be a certain way of happening then He sends a curve ball that seems to totally go against what we perceive to be His will. Many things in the bible like what is in Proverbs are truth and great if followed but we cannot do all those things all the time or we will drown in legalism.

    Last summer I met a man who lived a vagabond kind of life, full of troubles and want. But what he said stopped me in my tracks. “I know my future in heaven is assured.”

    And years ago I met another man who had been some sort of secret service agent, who preached at our church who went into bars to help out the women who had to sell their bodies or strip for a living.

    I could go on about the Christians I have met whose lives do not fall into what biblical gender roles seem to lay out…but my main point is that what you do in your family is between you and God and only to Him will you give account.

    1. esbee,
      Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      Yes, ultimately, our job is to walk in the power of God’s Spirit and to obey His prompting and His Word for us as believers. Sometimes things will NOT look like we expect, that is true! May we trust Him fully and seek to honor and glory Him in each situation. And yes, we will only answer to Him in the end.

  4. I concur with Emet that all apply to my situation bar the last two. I would add to that that the overwhelming dynamic in my relationship is my husband’s feeling of worthlessness for not working (not his fault), and the frustration he feels that always comes my way. I am not able to find work either but I do manage the finances. I have handed over control of the finances before and my husband squandered it and we were left in a precarious financial situation. I do my best to keep him positively occupied but I am exhausted. I pray for strength and for God’s loving guidance and mercy in helping my husband lead, provide and guide us once again.

    Thank you for this beautiful article.

    love to my sisters x

    1. Hope,

      Oh goodness, how my heart just aches for you both. 🙁

      If it is okay, may I ask a few more questions to get a bit more of a “pulse” on things? Then maybe I can share more resources that may be helpful.

      How long have you both been out of work, precious sister?

      Are y’all dealing with any mental health issues that may impact financial decision-making, addictions, or anything similar?

      What did your husband say about the financial situation before?

      Are y’all in agreement now on how to handle things?

      Lord,
      We lift up Hope and her husband and the other wives and husbands who are in similar situations to You in the highest heavens. Help us to picture You accurately in all of Your glory with your eyes blazing with love and your face more radiant than the sun. We praise and thank You that You reign in majesty, sovereignty, love, truth, and justice over the universe. We thank You that Your ears are attentive to the cries of those who yield themselves fully to You as Lord. We are grateful for the incredible opportunity to be able to approach the Holy of Holies together with confidence in Your presence. Thank You that You care about every detail of our lives. And thank You that You are ultimately our Provider.

      We pray for Your provision job-wise/financially/relationally, Your wisdom, Your Spirit’s power, Your glory, and Your good purposes to be accomplished in these marriages where husbands are out of work or where there is tension because a wife out-earns her husband. Help the husbands and wives to seek Your kingdom and your will first in everything. Direct their steps. Help them make choices that will please You and bring great glory to Your Name. Help them to do what is best in Your eyes for their families and what is best for their marriages, even if the world thinks it doesn’t make sense. Let them yield in full submission to You as Lord and receive the healing that is available to each of us in You.

      In the Name and power of Christ,
      Amen!

      I also want to share something my twin sister shared on FB this week that may be a blessing – how I long for us all to live with faith like this:

      Hebrews 11:33- 38 ( Look at this small list of the types of things people have done through faith in God and His promises!! ) ” … who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
      Not only did they let God bring His kingdom and will into the world through them at any cost – they had Him and His presence in every situation – so that they were more than conquerors no matter what the enemy or the world threw at them. And if the worse happened and they died for Him – He always brought that much more blessing and power and way more people to salvation through it.
      What if we knew that through faith we could obtain God’s promises, be made strong out of weakness, become mighty in Christ for our spiritual battles, stop the mouth of the enemy lion, conquer kingdoms – speak Jesus’ life and power and breath and hope and love into darkness. How different our days would be!!
      And the Church in the West is beginning to rise up to do this in our time!
      Thank You, Jesus that You love for Your people to trust You, to align with Your work and Your will – and to declare Your will and Your promises in faith – and that You move mightily when we do!

  5. I’m in this boat. I make twice as much as husband as well as carry the benefits. I started a small business that paid off our house. I make all the investment decisions. When my business ended, I went back to school for a Bachelor’s degree and then a master’s to increase our earning potential, which I kinda resent it for taking alot of my life with studying…like a second job. (I bet you know what i mean, April). Meanwhile hubby is spending money willy-nilly on guns and toys…I guess I also feel sad that I don’t have a husband who wants to take care of me and make sure I am provided for.

  6. to Hope- your name says it all. There IS hope in Him- 40 years ago my husband and I married with the promise of a job for him as min. of music. When we arrived after a 1500 mile move to another state they had given it to someone else. Sent my husband on a spiral of self-doubt and illness that lasts to this day. Even his parents did not stick up for him as it was their church.

    Of course under christian legalism i was blamed for not being the submissive wife type but God gave me an art talent that i used to trade for the things we needed over the years, furniture, doctor bills, appliances, etc etc. My husband eventually got a job in his field of interest (he will not work no matter what if he does not have an interest and will make himself sick or have an accident so he does not have to do it) whereas i worked at whatever i could do until i got my teaching job.

    We are both retired now but I still work while he spends most of his time at the computer and tv. when he worked he worked hard but has had many illnesses and accidents over the years. I think we are beginning to see some light when someone said “psychosomatic” and we are taking him to a mental health doctor. It has been a long hard haul and I know of some that have become atheist when hard stuff hit them or so-called promises of god did not happen. I AM SO GLAD we did not have children.

  7. Thank you for this wonderfully edifying post! As someone who is in this situation where I bring in a great deal more income than my husband, and have several family members who have also, let me encourage all wives (as you so tactfully did above) to not value their income or careers more than their husband.

    As the Spirit prompts you, talk to your husband about scaling back your work or giving it up for a time or forever to bring your lives to a point where he has the respect you are called to give. Perhaps your faith in him enough to offer to rely solely on what he can provide is all he needs. This has done wonders in many marriages. You are not called to attain earthly wealth or a prestigious career, you are called to respect your husband.

    1. I think Sarah’s comment reveals a common misconception — that those of us who make more than our husbands do so to spend it on glamorous vacations or to feed our own egos. If you would like to try to live on $30k a year with no benefits in order to prove some sort of “faith in your husband,”, be my guest. Respecting your husband is done completely apart from his income, or yours, for that matter. So I object to the alluding that those of us who work do so to attain earthly wealth or prestige. It would be helpful if you would post what is your husband’s annual income when you make that statement. As I said, my husband makes $33k with no benefits. Our property taxes alone are $10k. Are you saying that living at poverty level is somehow going to bring some sort of respect that you think is automatically missing? Please clarify.

      1. I agree. There’s no need for us to scale back or stop working. If God has given us talents that generate a high income, we should give thanks to God and work diligently to provide for our families. We can respect and serve our husbands regardless of our salaries.

        1. Nikki,

          If our hearts and motives are right and we are honoring and obeying God, yes, wives may be able to continue on working – seeking God’s greatest glory, of course, in everything. 🙂

      2. Marked Wife,

        There are some wives whose families would have plenty to live on even if they were not working, or even if they worked less. There are some whose families would not have enough to live on if the wife didn’t work.

        There are also many different motives and reasons behind why various wives work.

        I have seen situations where a husband is not making enough to live on and a wife feels called by God not to work, and they decide to trust God with this calling they feel, and the husband suddenly, unexplainably receives a promotion or a job offer out of the blue that will cover the family’s expenses.

        Is that God’s calling for every couple? I don’t know. Maybe not. But I have seen times when that has worked – when God is in it, of course.

        Some women do work because of greed, prestige, ego, or a desire for luxury. So do some men.

        Others work simply to provide the basic necessities for their families.

        All of us benefit when we lay our motives and situations before God and invite Him to show us anything He wants us to change and we release Him to do His will, whatever it may be, even if it blows our minds, in our lives.

        Much love!

    2. “You are not called to attain earthly wealth or a prestigious career, you are called to respect your husband.”

      The statement sounds very noble until there are bills to be paid. In the early part of our marriage, I worked at low paying jobs not able to get a teaching position because my husband was “called” to be music of minister and we moved a lot for him to find his dream job. When the pastor treated him like crap and wanted me to be one of those ” dress wearubg stay at home raise children say nothing wives” and we eventually had to leave because of the horrible things i did (wear pants, ride horses, really get down on the level of the youth and give answers to the really hard questions ) he went into a depression and several mystery illnesses where I was the one who had to work. And with very little money left over I literally had nothing to eat. Cereal in the morning, cereal at night. Car did not work, no money to fix it. Rode my horse everywhere to my job, church, etc. Respect aside, I had to work. Sitting back respecting my husband was not solving the problem. We were living in a shack and sleeping on the floor. And the church was not offering to help and believe me, I asked and begged for a bag of groceries, a job, anything. We got nothing from them. There will be no miraculous checks from nowhere in the mail for respecting your husband while the family starves and utilities are turned off. I believe we are called to have sense about situations and with prayer make decisions about life.

      1. Precious sisters,

        There are some situations where wives choose not to work and their husbands want to give then this gift and choose to work to support the family themselves and they are all happy with that situation. That is awesome.

        There may be some women in situations where the wife working is not an option. Perhaps the husband wants to be the sole breadwinner but he travels a lot and she needs to be there for the children. Or maybe the wife is too sick to work. Perhaps a wife can’t work or maybe she feels called to stay home. That is totally okay.

        There may be some women in situations where a wife has no choice but to work full time. Their husband can’t or won’t work, or isn’t making enough money to even live frugally, and if there is going to be food and shelter, the wife may have to work.

        In my case, my husband has asked for me to continue working part time as a pharmacist. So I do this to be a blessing to him and to honor his leadership. But I have also let him know I don’t want to work full time because I don’t believe I could be the wife, mother, and home keeper I want to be if I worked full time. I have done it before, but the stress level would be more than I would want to try to handle – if I have an option to just be part time, that is what I want to do and my husband supports me in that decision.

        There are others who may be in a situation where they are working more than they have to work and it may be wise to cut back if the husband and wife agree and it will help the dynamics in the marriage and help with respect issues. i.e.: If I am making $250,000 dollars per year and it is creating resentment, bitterness, and division in my marriage, I may decide it is worth it to cut way back on my working because we can get along on much less. My husband and I may look at our motives and maybe decide that we need to go in a different direction to better honor God in a variety of ways. In cases like this, it may be a good thing for a wife to cut back if she wants to and her husband is supportive and they believe God is calling them to do that.

        Another wife may be making a lot of money and maybe the dynamics are fine in her marriage and she and her husband believe God is calling her to work and to use that money and her talents for God’s glory. That is awesome.

        For any couple to make decisions about these kinds of specific issues would need to be a matter of prayer and doing some deep soul searching about motives and seeking God’s wisdom and direction for our particular family at this particular time so that we seek to be in the center of GOd’s will for us.

        It won’t always look the same. That’s okay! Thankfully, we can have grace for each other and recognize that different wives will be called to different approaches.

        1. Ladies,
          This is a TOUGH topic and a very sensitive one for so many wives and husbands. I’m thankful we can come together to support one another.

          Lord,

          I pray for Your clarity, wisdom, and vision for each of us regarding our jobs, careers, and marriages. Help us be willing to lay everything before You in absolute surrender. Help us to clearly hear Your voice so that we can obey You in everything. Your way is best for each of us. Direct our steps. Use us to be a blessing to our husbands, our children, and each other. Most of all let us be in the center of Your will, even if that may look different from what others are called to do or if it looks different from our own expectations. Not our will but Yours be done in our marriages, our families, in our careers, and in every area of life that You might ultimately be greatly exalted and glorified in each of our lives.
          Amen!

      2. Hi Esbee,

        I would like to share some of my story with you. I understand where you are coming from to some extent, but I’m here to tell you that faith works! Not in us and our drive, skills, perseverance or diligence, but our faith in our Father! That he will never leave us or forsake us!

        We moved over 2,000 miles because the Father literally put it on my husband’s heart that we needed to. We have no family in this state or friends for that matter. We used our savings to pay for the move. The Father blessed me with a teaching job, but my husband was having a hard time finding work. Well, a few months later I was injured by one of my students, a student I had written up plenty of times previously, but the administration did nothing. My husband asked me to quit. I didn’t think that was the best idea, but I did.

        For the first week I was pumped. I was SURE that the Father would provide a job for one of us that would be awesome. When that didn’t happen I kind of started to panic. We had to sell our stuff just to pay for rent, gas, and food!. I am sad to say I did not support my husband like I should have during this time. I was fussing at him for making, what I saw as, bad decisions with the little money we did have, but he was trying. When we ran out of stuff to sell, my wonderful husband encouraged me to just have faith! We literally got two random checks in the mail that covered the basics for the next month.

        I shorten the story, my husband still doesn’t have regular employment. We now have a son and I make less than the amount listed above. But you know what? Our heavenly Father has NEVER let us be forsaken. He’s come through every single month, and this story started in 2014. Even though I tutor still, I realize that it’s not me who provides, it’s the Father. He has given me the job I have to each us a lot! Especially me: I’ve learned so much about myself and my sin because of all this. My husband has had illness after illness and he was NEVER sick before we got married! But this is an attack from the evil one!!!! My husband has recognized it, taken appropriate spiritual measures and is now haled!! And of some very serious stuff.

        The point: Miraculous checks don’t appear out of nowhere for respecting your husband, but they do for having real faith in the One who is asking you to respect your husband. What I’ve learned from all this is that sometimes the option that makes the most sense is not the option our Father wants you to make. We have to trust Him and learn not to our own understanding.

        In Love,

        Emet

        1. Emet- good for you! That is a great testimony but that is your story which shows how God worked in YOUR life. He does not make cookie cutter plans and God had to teach me different things from you. My story happened in 1975 and i was convinced that God would take care of us through the church. That they would help us when we were in need. That they would take up the slack if we needed jobs or whatever. What we got was the cold shoulder and legalism. When the FBC turned us down in our need i went to the Lord and asked why. He said, who would you thank for the food or supplies? I said, the FBC. He said exactly. I want you to turn only to me.” But God supplied a little old couple who gave to us out of their need by sharing beans and cornbread with us. God was also teaching me about real tithing at the time. I have read many stories of folks who gave up EVERYTHING for God and they got nothing back, starved, struggled, ended up hating or denouncing anything to do with God. ( Patheos has a lot of these types of stories.) I think those stories happened because their faith is placed in what a man says and they have not checked it out with God, one on one like you did.

          1. esbee,

            Thank you so much for sharing your story.

            I don’t think that Emet or Sarah or anyone else is trying to say that you (or anyone else) must make the exact same decisions they made. I am thankful for them sharing their stories. I think they will be a blessing to many. And I appreciate you sharing your story, too. It is also a blessing to me (and I am sure to many others) to hear how God worked in your life so that you learned to depend on Him. That is wonderful!

            To me, the more stories, the better. Each of us who follow Christ have a unique testimony to share and we can all build up each other by sharing God’s faithfulness and the things we have learned. What I share may not be exactly what everyone needs to hear. But maybe someone else’s story will be just the encouragement a struggling sister or brother may need to hear to build up that person’s faith in a moment of need. I love that about the Body of Christ.

            Much love!

          2. All,

            If you want to read about a man who had incredible faith in God and who saw God provide regularly through the power of his prayers – check out George Muller’s story (who lived in the 1800s). He decided to open an orphanage for the primary purpose of demonstrating God’s ability to provide for our needs as believers. He never asked anyone for money. He didn’t have a source of income. But God provided every month for the needs of the children in his care. This man’s example of faith is one that I believe would bless us all greatly!

            A quote by George Muller on his website:
            “I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith.

            A brief description from John Piper about George Muller’s life:

            He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison. One of the great effects of Mueller’s ministry was to inspire others so that “fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone.”

            He had prayed in millions of dollars (in today’s currency) for the Orphans and never asked anyone directly for money. He never took a salary in the last 68 years of his ministry, but trusted God to put in people’s hearts to send him what he needed. He never took out a loan or went into debt. And neither he nor the orphans were ever hungry.

          3. All,

            I also want to touch on the “cookie cutter” thing.

            I don’t believe God makes “cookie cutter Christians” or “cookie cutter plans” – but there are some threads that are going to be the same in all of our stories as believers in Christ. There are certain lessons God will invite each of us to learn, although the circumstances may be different and the timing may be different. And there are some truths that will be central for all of us because we have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Spirit.

            He will likely call each of us to learn things like:
            – depending on Him fully, not trusting in other people or ourselves
            – resting in His sovereignty peacefully in the middle of the unknown
            – forgiving those who hurt us
            – loving our enemies
            – living by faith instead of by sight
            – contrition
            – humility
            – loving the unloveable
            – living by the power of the Spirit instead of being controlled by the flesh
            – extending grace to others
            – walking in obedience
            – yielding our greatest dreams and fears to Him
            – sharing Christ and the gospel with others
            – choosing joy during trials
            – getting rid of sin and idols
            – taking our thoughts captive
            – yielding control in total surrender to Him
            – growing in Christlikeness and spiritual maturity
            – taking up our cross daily

            etc… 🙂

            But each of our stories the details of our situations will be unique, like a snowflake. 🙂 And each of our stories will bring great glory to God in a special way that no one else’s story could. I love that! I can’t wait to get to hear more about everyone’s story. I think we may get to do a lot of story time in heaven and I look forward to that immensely.

        2. Emet,

          What an amazing testimony. Thank you so very much for sharing. What incredible faith your husband had in God!! I love it! I also love your heart of faith in God and your perspective. So thankful to hear that your husband is healed and that y’all realized what was happening. Such a blessing!

          Something God has shown me is that if I am walking in disobedience to God’s commands, I am not going to see much answered prayer. E. M. Bounds has a whole chapter on this topic in his amazing book, The Necessity of Prayer. This is not something a lot of us hear in church. We tend to think we can live however we want and then pray and expect God to do our will. Or we think we will be able to hear His voice clearly and that He will reveal His will to us about specific things even though we are not obeying what we already know to be His revealed will. Or, that is how I lived for a long time, not realizing what I was doing.

          But what a joy and blessing that when I am walking in obedience to His commands (by the power of His Spirit, of course), He hears my prayers and He will move mountains in astonishing ways to accomplish His will in my life. I know I will continue to learn more and more about this. I long for my faith to grow and deepen so much more.

          Before God opened my eyes to my sin of control, idolatry of self, idolatry of marriage and my husband and children, disrespect for Greg, disrespect for God, unbelief, resentment, bitterness, etc… in 2008 – I prayed a lot. Sometimes for 4 hours per day. But I didn’t see God answer many of my prayers.

          It is the prayer of a righteous person that is powerful and effective (James 15:16). This requires that I walk in holiness and obedience. That is not legalism at all. But my obedience and total surrender to Him as LORD is God’s requirement for me to be able to hear His voice clearly and to be able to have the power of His Holy Spirit, as well as for Him to hear and answer my prayers.

          Of course, I don’t know how He may answer my prayers. And He will put different people in different situations and His answers may also be different.

          But I think your story is such a beautiful example and inspiration.

          Yes, as we have real faith in God and as we are willing to do things His way, including respecting our husbands, there is no limit to what God may decide to do in our lives for His glory.

      3. Ha Esbee, good for you riding your horse everywhere. Personally I think that is something we ought to be able to do even in good times, much healthier a lifestyle. It sounds like you had a spiritually abusive legalistic pastor. The tough thing about that is that pastors who are abusive don`t present it that way. Instead its always couched in terms of having to look right, or claims that you are insubordinate or disobedient and are actually disobeying God not them. And the manipulation and cover up, games etc can be nasty.

        If my pastor told me I couldn`t ride my horse, I would let him know in no uncertain terms that that is my decision and that he does not have that kind of authority over me or anyone else in his congregation. Your church and pastor frankly stunk and totally failed at following God`s word. I bet they expected tithes from the people no matter what though, right? Scripture says that the tithes were to be brought into the storehouse that there may be meat in time of NEED. Its not so the pastor can drive a Lexus. It`s so that the family who has suffered job loss and is eating toast and jam can have some food and not get thrown out on the street. Granted not all churches can help to the same degree but still.

        Respecting our husbands when they are not meeting life properly can, I think can mean something like how David continued to treat Saul with respect because he was King and God`s anointed, but he wasn`t stupid. He didn`t sacrifice his safety or common sense in the name of blind submission or respect. He actually did not obey Saul`s request that he come and present himself to the king but stayed safely out of reach. So getting the job done doesn`t necessarily mean you don`t respect your husband. It means that you have some strength and courage.

        It may be possible that your husband may have been demoralized by your pastor`s abusiveness. I`ve been through the whole abusive church thing and sadly its a lot more common and can really pull the rug out from under your faith. When someone who is a spiritual authority figure you ought to be able to trust, uses abusive tactics it can cause severe stress. It`s a dirty betrayal from the last place you`d expect it to come.

        Once when I was in my early twenties, I had been in an exploitive relationship with a narcissistic guy. I was hurt and ashamed and frankly humiliated. I felt like a failure. So I reached out to some old Christian friends who had been instrumental in my meeting Christ. I thought perhaps if I submitted my life to them they could help me with what was wrong . At first they were nice. They asked me to call back. The second time it was the most soul shatteringly cruel Pharisee trip ever. Their words made my whole heart just crack and start to fall to little pieces, it was so hurtful. Suddenly it seemed that God intervened. He said `Their opinion is not necessarily My opinion, but I have allowed this to happen for a reason“. Then He showed me a situation that had occurred where unbeknownst to me, I had said something to this man that he now held a grudge against me over. So their judgements and words had nothing to do with God or righteousness but rather their lack of honesty and emotional health. Your pastor`s opinion isn`t God`s opinion.

        1. sheep-ish,

          I love the example of David with Saul. That is really powerful illustration of a believer showing respect in the face of an extremely abusive authority. But you are very right, he didn’t sacrifice his safety or common sense. Thank you so much for sharing that with esbee and all of us. 🙂

          I appreciate you sharing your story and how I pray for God’s healing and wisdom for those who have faced abusive church leaders.

        2. sheep-ish and esbee and all,

          I wonder if anyone has come across helpful, godly resources to help those who have been the victims of spiritual abuse in churches? I’d love to be able to let y’all share any resources you have found. It is so heartbreaking to me that anyone would have to go through something like that – but obviously, in a fallen world, this is a reality at times. 🙁

          I’d love for those who have experienced spiritual abuse to find welcome from healthy believers and to find all of the healing that is available in Jesus.

          esbee,

          I had a chance to look at your artwork and you are an amazing artist! I’m so impressed! 🙂

          Much love!

          1. Hi April
            One book I know of is by Jeff Van Vonderan and another author, I think it is The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. The Crying out for Justice Blog also has some helpful stuff, it is aimed at domestic abuse but also has some thing about abusive pastors and churches, as domestic abuse often gets covered up and justified iin abusive churches, esp. ones that force the permanence view of marriage and are heavily patricarchal. So someone may find some help there.

    3. Sarah,

      Thank you for your insights and your comments. 🙂

      All,

      The things Sarah is sharing may not apply to all wives in every possible situation. But what she is sharing may be very helpful to certain wives in certain situations. I love the encouragement not to value our income or careers above our husbands. It is easy to start to think about my value or my husband’s value in dollar amounts. That is not a good idea. None of us have worth in God’s eyes because of our income. We have worth because we are made in God’s image and because Jesus died for us and loves us. And our husbands have worth for these same reasons.

      Does this mean we don’t need any income in our marriages at all? No, of course not. We do need an income, obviously, in every family.

      For wives in any situation, seeking God, listening to the Spirit’s prompting – is key.

      – Can God take a situation where a husband hasn’t been able to work or hasn’t been able to find work and provide a job? Yes. He can, if that is His will.
      – Can God bring about circumstances to increase a husband’s salary if it is his will so that his wife could work less? Yes, that is certainly possible if it is His will.

      Our God is sovereign and He is able to change people, attitudes, and circumstances. We have the power of prayer! If we are concerned that the financial situation is creating sinful attitudes in our hearts and we seek to get rid of the disrespect and bitterness but we really feel called that God would want us to cut back, then we can pray that God would work in our circumstances and see what His plans are.

      No matter what our situation, we can all lay down our dreams, our desires, our fears, our preconceived plans, and yield them totally to God. He can direct our steps in ways we could never have imagined or even thought to pray about.

      I appreciate Sarah’s comment.
      I also appreciate the other women’s comments because there are many different perspectives represented here and many different circumstances.

      Let’s seek to understand one another, edify, bless, encourage, and uplift one another in whatever way God may lead each of us.

      Much love!

      1. Wonderfully said! You put it much better than I did! My only point was to say that I have been a part of and witnessed several relationships where the wife believing in her husband to provide for the family’s needs (even though it was not happening at the time) and adjusting their lifestyle to live on his income spoke volumes of her respect for her husband.

        My prayer is that the Lord bless the ministry started here and all of the wives who are striving to live out their marriages in a way that honors Him!

  8. For those of you who are interested, George Muller has written a number of books. I hope to get to read some of them this year, myself. I know my faith would be stretched and deepened to read more about this brother’s incredible faith in our even more incredible God.

    Here is the link to the post by John Piper about George Muller’s life and story. http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/george-muellers-strategy-for-showing-god

    Check out how Mueller handled facing his beloved wife’s death as told by John Piper:

    Twenty minutes after four, Lord’s Day, February 6, 1870, Mary died. “I fell on my knees and thanked God for her release, and for having taken her to Himself, and asked the Lord to help and support us.”34 He recalled later how he strengthened himself during these hours. And here we see the key to his life.

    “The last portion of scripture which I read to my precious wife was this: ‘The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.’ Now, if we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have received grace, we are partakers of grace, and to all such he will give glory also. I said to myself, with regard to the latter part, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.”

    Here is the cluster of unshakable convictions and experiences that are the key to this remarkable life. “I am in myself a poor worthless sinner.”I have been saved by the blood of Christ.” “I do not live in sin.”God is sovereign over life and death. If it is good for her and for me, she will be restored again. If not she won’t.”My heart is at rest.”I am satisfied with God.” All this comes from taking God at his word. There you see the innermost being of George Mueller and the key to his life. The word of God, revealing his sin, revealing his Savior, revealing God’s sovereignty, revealing God’s goodness, revealing God’s promise, awakening his faith, satisfying his soul. “I was satisfied with God.”

    —————-

    May each of us have such a faith in our sovereign, loving, good Lord!

  9. I’ve been thinking more about this. I’m thinking it probably is easier for some wives to respect their husband since the husband makes more money than the wife. But God does not lead us in easy paths at all times. The missionary who goes overseas and then experiences illness, little success in Ministry, and other hardships does not say “this must not be God’s will because it is too difficult,” and then come back home, in defeat. In the same way a wife may be placed in the position of making more money than her husband so that God can grow her in this difficult situation. Artificially manipulating incomes (I.e. the wife giving up work so that the husband by default then makes more money than her) may be taking the wife out of a difficult situation in which she was placed in order to grow. Again the spirit ‘s leading is essential in all these circumstances.

    1. Marked Wife,

      Yes, there are times when God’s will will be different for different couples in regard to this issue. He may prompt some to stay and to grow in learning to respect their husbands in spite of the income difference. And there may be some He may prompt to leave their jobs and be willing to trust Him to provide through their husbands. There is not one “right” way in this particular issue, in my view. The “right” way is that each of us do what God is calling us to do and that we also be sensitive to the leadership of our husbands. 🙂

      My desire is that we might each obey God completely and wholeheartedly, that we might live in the center of His will for us each day, and that our faith might grow and He might empower us to be faithful to Him and a blessing to our husbands and families.

  10. My husband and I are in the same situation. He works, but my income is higher. There were times it was a struggle for him – especially early in our marriage when I was not showing him any respect. Now, I defer all of our financial decisions to him. He is able to still “provide” for me by budgeting our household well and being able to treate me to a surprise.
    Sometimes I struggle because I feel that I should get more of a voice on how our money is distributed, or selfishness drives me to want to go on a spending spree… But experience has taught me to tread carefully. I have to bring my wants to him without discrediting his ability to provide. No amount of money is worth taking that from him.

    1. AIM,
      You know what? I love how y’all worked out a way for him to feel he can provide in this way. That is so neat!
      I also really admire the fact that you recognize the importance of showing him honor and respect and that you care about his feelings more than about a spending spree. Beautiful!!!!

      I’m so thankful you shared! I know this will be such a blessing to our sisters.

  11. My husband is currently not working. He applies for jobs, but never makes it to the interview. I earn a great salary but cannot support his spending habits. Our savings is being drained and I have trouble taking the credit card away. It’s very hard not to be resentful. He watches tv and smokes all day long. I come home to a mess and a sink full of dishes. I pray fervently for wisdom and change. This has been going on for 2+ years. I am embarrassed and ashamed.

    1. Anon,

      That sounds very frustrating. 🙁 I’m so sorry to hear about this. Do you believe your husband may have any issues going on with depression or any mental health issues? Anything like bi-polar or ADD, for instance? If so, do you have good medical support?

      How are you both doing spiritually?

      What kind of spiritual support do you have?

      Much love to you!

  12. Thank you for your response. My husband has depression and is on medication. It is worse during the winter so I am grateful the days are getting a bit longer now. We have strong Christian beliefs but not much of a support system. He is an alcoholic and I found Alanon to be helpful and could probably benefit by going back. He admits he’s not motivated and I don’t think he is completely honest with his psychiatrist. This is critical since his medical team needs to know the truth in order to treat him properly. Thanks again for your support.

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