Career Wives

Sometimes I feel like I'm doing everything wrong. I read blogs about women who feel strongly that their place is at home and not in an office, and I feel like I'm failing my husband in some way. I told him this past week that I wanted to quit working full-time, and he seemed really apprehensive. He knows me better than anyone else, and he knew what the issue was.

"Are you sure that's what you want to do, or is it just peer pressure?"

Ah, yes, the blogs I've been reading. All these wonderful women who stay at home and do all these admirable things for their husbands. They have done everything right from the beginning - they have learned to cook and sew, they haven't gone to college so of course no college debt, and they have married a man with a salary enough to support a family and they are able to stay at home. Now, just for the record, I think it's great that so many women are able to do this! To be honest, I'm jealous. I want to stay at home, and I want my sole responsibilities to be cooking and cleaning. I want to greet my husband at the door with a kiss and dinner on the table. I want to go grocery shopping during the day, and not as an afterthought in the evenings.

But to be honest, it's not where God has me right now. He led me down a path that included university and a career in graphic design - something I truly love and something that I can use for His glory. He also led me to marry a wonderful man with a good job. However, even though my school loans are minimal, his loans are not, and he can't support both me and pay off his loans without me bringing in a steady income as well. That's the truth of the situation, and that's how it has to be - at least for right now.

Now, when I say I'm a career wife, I do have to clarify something. I do have a university degree and I am in a job where I utilize that degree. I make a good living and I love what I do there. However, my family is first and foremost. Right now, my family consists of my husband and two cats - and a 700 square foot apartment. The minute I am needed at home full-time, then I will be happy to quit work. I am not after climbing the corporate ladder, so I'm more focused right now on doing the job I really enjoy. I do plan on quitting when we have children, and I plan on doing freelance graphic design from home after that as I am able. Right now, we are putting 100% of my paycheck (after tithes, of course!) toward our student loans to relieve as much of that burden as possible before we have children. Because, to be honest, I'd rather stay home and have all day to perfect a homecooked meal. But that's a goal for me to look forward to, and I need to be content with where God has me right now.

With the conveniences of our modern day and age, I believe it's entirely possible for women to work full-time and have a happy marriage. Sure, some things have to be sacrificed - I don't have time to bake my own bread or sew my own clothes, but I do have the money to give to missions and help others in need. Meals are not fancy and often out of a box, but I hate to cook anyways. There are so many benefits to staying home, and I honestly look forward to that. In the meantime, I am focusing on the benefits of working. I am able to sharpen my skills and knowledge in graphic design daily, using the company's resources. If I didn't work here, I would have to shell out the $1200 to buy the software myself. I have daily interaction with people, which is something I need, especially since I don't have a lot of friends here. I have a lot of interactions with nonbelievers which is not only a great opportunity to witness, but I also get to hear their point of view which not only challenges me, but helps me to relate to them better. I get to dress professionally every day, which is something I enjoy. I am helping my husband by relieving some of the financial burden, which he appreciates and allows him to pursue opportunities that will help him ultimately in his career. Most satisfying, though, is the knowledge that with every paycheck, our debt is going down that much more!

Is it biblical to work? I believe God made every woman differently, and it would be wrong to put every woman in a box and tell her she must do this. He has blessed us with so many talents, and I think it's a good thing to have Christian women in the workplace. Even the Proverbs 31 wife worked; she buys fields and uses her earnings to plant a vineyard (vs. 16), and she makes and sells garments (vs. 24). Some women I believe God created to be the homemakers. He's given them a desire to be at home, and a gift for all things homey. Other women are created to use their gifts in the workplace. I think the most important thing is that a woman put her family first, and keep them first over her career. Some women find it very difficult to do a 40 hour workweek and keep their husbands first. Some have discovered that they are better able to do this by working from home or working only part time. Others can work in an office by day and run a home in the evenings - and still are serving their husbands. I think this is a decision that is between a woman, her husband, and God - through much prayer and weighing of the options.

As for me, I look forward for the day when I can work from home. But that's not where God has me right now, and I have to be okay with that. I can't let others' convictions make me unhappy with where He's put me. And that's the hardest thing for me to learn.

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  1. Joanna said...
    "Are you sure that's what you want to do, or is it just peer pressure?"

    This is essentially what Josh said to me when I was talking to him about this issue-- he said it's like saying the grass is greener on the other side. Unmarried women want to be married. Married working women think life would be better not working. Stay-at-home moms become Desparate Housewives.

    We can be content where God has us for now and glorify Him in it.
    Ashley said...
    Yeah I think that's something I realized after thinking about your post. A post on contentment will follow within the next few days, courtesy of Beth. :-)

    I'm definitely the girl who always falls for the "grass is always greener on the other side" trick. I always want to be where I'm not. I think that's the hardest thing about this whole situation - is that I am where I am, I am where God has me, and I need to be okay with that. Easier said than done!
    Susan said...
    The grass is always greener. *sigh* Yeah, I remember times when I've had to cut out certain blogs from my readership because they were making me focus more on what I didn't have than what I do have.

    I know we differ on the notion of careers for women some, Ashley, but I really see that you're trying to do what you feel God has laid before you. If you quit work against Paul's consent, I would consider that to be wrong. Working while you're still childless, though, to relieve debt burden that you and Paul cannot erase (whether or not it was unwise in the first place, you can't wish it away!) is not as cut-and-dry an issue as I'd like it to be!

    I believe women belong in the home; you know that :). But sometimes we have circumstances outside our control, and I really feel that especially given Paul's own feelings on the matter, you are doing the right thing by continuing to work. I sure do hope you can come home soon, or at least cut back to part-time!
    beth said...
    In your situation, Ashley, I'd be doing the exact same thing. I'd be choosing the full-time paycheck and at the same time wishing I could stay at home.

    But now we have Olivia and another on the way and I have to stay at home. (Yes, I realize I could put her in daycare, but we choose not to go that route.) Anyway, now I have what I thought I always wanted, and somehow the house is still a mess. :) It gets cleaned eventually, but not until the little tornado goes to bed; a pointless battle.

    And the social issue is hitting me hard right now, being new in this community. Having only a 14 month old to converse with is a little isolating sometimes. But hopefully soon we will be able to get involved in a church family and I will finally be able to go to play dates and MOPS!

    So, in short, enjoy being able to work and socialize and get out of the house while you can and realize that you will get your chance to be in the house enough when the time comes!
    Larissa said...
    It struck me as somewhat odd that Joanna commented on the concept of feeling peer pressure to be a stay-at-home mom because I actually feel peer pressure in the opposite direction; almost as though I need to prove I am intelligent through a career. It makes me want to become accomplished with a career and once I have met my goals, "settle down" and be a stay-at-home mom. If I do that, I won't try to have kids until it is physically too late! This, by the way, makes it obvious what insecurities I have. So I wonder if what direction we are feeling the peer pressure from is because of the people we hang around or because of the insecurities we have?
    beth said...
    Hmm... I feel the most pressure to stay at home, and I feel the most insecure about my ability to be a good wife and mother. However, I am also surrounded most by people who choose to stay at home once they have children. I'm a teacher; not an engineer. :) But you raise a good point, Larissa.
    Liosliath said...
    I thought I would comment since it sounds like we are in the same boat. Like you, I am choosing to make the most of my childless time to work and contribute towards paying off debts. It is difficult to be content from time to time - especially when I realize just how much I don't like what I do and how little I am challenged by it most of the time. I have found it very helpful to focus on the impact I am having on our finances - and it gives me the encouragement to keep writing and to try to get published.
    Anyway, I applaud those who do what they feel they should rather than what they think they want.
    Ashley said...
    Susan: I hope so too! I would love to work part-time, but I'm not sure if I would be able to do that with Imagine. We'll see; that is the eventual direction I'd like to go. And you're right - no matter what I want, it is ultimately up to Paul. I know when it is good for us financially, he will be okay with me not working. I'm glad I can trust him like that. :-)

    Beth: Yeah I know, I need to look on the bright side of things! The social aspect is a HUGE benefit to working, although I wouldn't necessarily consider my coworkers "friends". I think if I did stay at home full-time, I would have to do SOMETHING to get me out of the house - like volunteer.

    Larissa: I think it is the line of work you're in and the people you are with. You're in a line of work where most go on to further education after college, and mine is the opposite. Also, I read a lot of blogs by women who are stay-at-home, and so I feel the pressure there. Also, I do have insecurities that I'm doing the right thing as a Christian, and the best thing ultimately for my family. So that makes me second-guess myself a lot. Sometimes it's hard to shut out well-meaning voices and know what GOD is trying to say.

    Lesley: Hey! Thanks for commenting! :-) From reading your blog, I've noticed that we are in similar situaitons. I think sometimes the beginning "grown-up" years are all about paying your dues: a few years of work that we don't particularly enjoy will make the future years even better. I know for us, our goal is to pay as much on the loans as possible before we have children so that we can enjoy our family even more without the financial burden we could have. In the grand scheme of things, this time isn't as eternal as it seems... but right now it's hard to remember that. :-)
    zan said...
    Hey, Ashley,

    I can't sew and do all that fancy needlework stuff and I stay home. I have gotten to like cooking, but only if the kids are screaming while I am cooking. I loved being a nurse, but it just is not possible for me to work with babies.
    Anonymous said...
    Ashley, we have to very careful about what we're reading on the Internet. Many people are very sincere in their beliefs and yet they can be sincerely wrong. Just because someone labels something as Biblical doesn't make it so. Search the Scriptures for yourself always asking God to speak and give you the message He wants you to hear. My opinion as a 40 something Christian SAHM, you're not doing anything unBiblical working before children. I think you and your husband are right to focus on paying off debt. If a blog is doing nothing but make you feel bad than find another blog to visit.
    Ashley said...
    Anonymous: Yeah, I've realized that too. I have cut down a little on the amount I read certain blogs. Also, I needed to know for myself that I am making the right decision. Part of the problem is that I wondered if I was being unbiblical, and after thinking and praying and reading the Bible I've come to the conclusion that it's not. It's easier for me to stand my ground if I am certain of my position. :-) For example, I got a lot of flak for not living with my husband before marriage (we were spending money we didn't have on two rents). Yet, it never bothered me because I knew for certain that would be wrong and that we would benefit in the long run for not living together. Because I was convinced of my position, I was able to let those negative comments slide.
    Anne said...
    Hey Ashley- thanks for sharing this! There are many people and groups that put forth strong and loud opinions on what's biblical and the right way for everyone. I think you are wise to avoid reading them as much. I think they can get in the way of listening to the Holy Spirit and figuring out what God wants for us as individuals.

    Sweetie, I know all about that syndrome called "the grass is greener!" LOL I'm a SAHM now, and there are wonderful things about it... but there are also things that are stressful and unpleasant for me.

    You are a wonderful woman who's seeking to serve the Lord. Don't let these other loud opinions make you feel "less-than" or guilty. Continue to seek Him out and let Him show you what He wants you to do.

    I hope that hubby of yours realizes what a smart and great lady he's landed! :)

    Love ya! ((((HUGS)))

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