I was wondering if any of you have any advice, or could recommend a talk or book, that could encourage me in my role as homemaker.
I have been becoming increasingly irritated and resentful about doing all the housework lately (as well as finances, admin, handy man stuff etc). I'm also the one who is training the children to do it. Maybe I need to share it with my husband more, I don't know.
(My friend has several young children, and every week she has 2 child-free days that theoretically free her up to do housework. She says, "I am hesitant to add more to my husband's workload when I have 'extra time'.")Here's my response, with a few suggestions from mutual friends scattered through (you'll find some more responses here). You can skip to the practical points at the end if you like!
You'll need to figure out the "why" behind what you're feeling before you know what to do. There are five main reasons I can think of that this happens for me:
1) because I am extra tired, and tiredness brings out my anger. One of the ways I know I'm exhausted is that I start to feel angry at my husband. It's a warning sign I've come to recognise. It might mean I need a day off (maybe he could mind the kids and let you go away for a night?), or need to remember all he does, or need to ask for more help, or, when it’s not under my control, just need to recognise it, pray for grace, and be patient until it passes.
My friend adds,
When I have found myself getting annoyed, resentful or frustrated in the past, I have found praying through 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with a focus on the specific person triggering the response helpful. This has proved to be a great aid to forgiveness and a great assistance to recovering a Christ-like attitude in difficult situations for me (and for others who have also tried it). It is especially helpful when prayed in the light of 1 John 4:7-12.2) because I'm losing sight of why I'm doing this: it’s my job, and one I willingly accepted. That's where reading books has really helped me. Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal helped me see my role this way years ago, and her book Shopping for Time is a great help in living it out. But I think you’ve already been there, done that! I've found that talking with godly friends in similar situations, sharing our difficulties, helping each other keep our eyes on the goal, and praying for each other, also helps a lot.
3) because I'm unwilling to ask for or accept help, perhaps because I'm proud or stubborn, or like to do things my way so I can control the outcome. (For example, when my husband does the dishes he leaves them until later, but I like to get them done before I relax. Or he shops and doesn’t buy the exact things I want. Or, when it comes to child rearing, I think I can do it better.) I need to loosen up and let him help!
My friend adds,
In terms of sharing the load, it helps to give specifics and perhaps to set a time in the week for doing them if that helps the husband remember them. Also, set up a back-up system for when the wife is feeling overwhelmed. We have also talked about which jobs we prefer and have found that often they differ and we can do something that we prefer that the other hates.Another friend says,
4) because I don't take time to rest, perhaps because I set my sights too high (e.g. every mother has to train their kids in this way, pray with their kids that way, keep this clean, collect these memories...), so I'm getting burnt out. I’ve learned I need a day off during the week – weekends don’t do it, they’re just a continuation of my week’s work – so I take most Friday mornings off and go to a park to read, write, walk and pray. I have to remind myself that caring for our home and family is my main ministry so it’s okay not to be doing heaps of other things! Books like Tim Chester’s The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness and Arch Hart’s Adrenaline and Stress help me here.The issue might be your husband's lack of involvement in family responsibilities. It could be that his brain is in a different place and he hasn't noticed how much he's dumped on you, but finding the balance is important for making it through the long term. I would start by talking with him about it and maybe suggesting he chat with a more experienced person about gaining a balance between the responsibilities of home and work/ministry/study.
5) because I've lost sight of God's grace, all he's forgiven me for, and all he willingly gives me, so I feel bitter and resentful about serving. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m hoping that Gloria Freeman’s Glimpses of Grace - a book about the gospel and homemaking (it looks really good, not at all twee or predictable) - will help me here. Or Tim Keller’s King’s Cross or any other book on the cross would do. Or just some time spent in God’s word, reading over Psalm 103 or a gospel or a letter and meditating on God’s character and all he’s done. (Another good reason for asking for a day off to rest and refocus.)
Anyhow, here are some specific ideas, depending on what the issue is:
- communicate what you’re feeling with your husband, and see if he has some perspective and what he offers. You might be pleasantly surprised. (I say "if" because it can’t be assumed, and sometimes we need to accept our husbands the way they are, forbear, forgive, and remember to be thankful for all God has given us in them. But the conversations need to happen first, and regularly if possible, so that resentment doesn’t build up.)
- ask for help in specific ways, and accept help when it is offered. You probably know by now the things your husband is more keen to help out with, or more capable of doing; perhaps you could hand over some of these things, at least temporarily.
- lower your standards. Are there things you are doing because you think they need to be done rather than because God demands them of you? You might need to sit more lightly to them (e.g. I’d love to still be learning Bible verses with my kids, but the demands of life have meant that we only did that for a year - of course, we keep teaching them the Bible, just differently).
- take a morning or weekend off to recuperate and reflect and re-energise. Do it soon! Take a regular day off during the week. Talk and pray with godly friends in a similar situation
- as you suggest, read some good books: God’s word, something on your role, something on self-care, something on God’s grace
- pray about what you’re feeling. I should have put that first! ;)
Please keep adding your ideas to the comments. Just click here. Thanks to those who've already responded!