At 21, I knew nothing about life-long commitment. I thought nothing about what we needed to do to have a marriage that supported me staying at home with the kids.
When Todd and I got married, I thought marriage would come naturally. That we would just figure it out as we went along. We were smart, capable, semi-adults. Surely it was not that difficult to be a married couple! After we finished our pre-marital counseling through the church, we thought our marriage work was done. We had been forced to talk about the issues we would face and then left all of that new knowledge at the church, which we never attended again.
We thought we knew better than any advice we could find in a book. Especially if that book was the Bible. I hadn’t ever opened one with the intention of reading or learning anything. We looked to ourselves, our parents, and our friends to figure out how to be married. We made uneducated decisions and hoped things would work out. We tested out the limits of our trust and respect for each other.
We inevitably made lots of mistakes in our young lives together. We did things without consulting each other, spent money we didn’t have, and both thought we were the better partner (and fought about what the other was doing wrong). We each wanted things our own way. God was not at the center of our marriage.
Sixteen years and many mistakes later, with my Bible in hand, I am still figuring out what it takes to be married. Sometimes together with Todd, sometimes alone- slowly but surely. We certainly don’t have all of the answers, but we have learned a lot about the big things you have to do to keep your marriage strong and how to have that marriage include a mom who stays home with the kids.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7
It sounds cliché, but the foundation of a good marriage is trust. Trust in your self, trust in your spouse, trust in God. (More on this in our next post!)
Trust is essential in every area of your marriage. In the marriage where there is a SAHM, trust about finances is huge deal. As a non-earner, you may not feel entitled to spend money. As the earner, he may not feel like your priorities are as important as his when it comes to how to spend the money. Believe me, we have been all over the spectrum when it comes to trust and finances. Here are a couple of things we have learned:
- You have to share all of your accounts, debts, and assets. There can’t be any hidden funds anywhere. There are no my bills and your bills. They are our bills. There can’t be any assets that aren’t shared by both partners. Division in your finances leads to division in other areas of your marriage.
- Be honest about your values about money and your spending. Admit your mistakes, don’t lie or hide bad decisions (anyone else ever hide a shopping bag in their trunk?), and don’t judge your husband harshly when he does the same.
- Just because you as the SAHM aren’t the one bringing home a paycheck doesn’t mean you don’t have an equal say in how your money is used. Be on the same team and don’t let each other make unilateral decisions- especially about a big purchase. Usually one spouse is better at paying the bills or investing. Maybe this is you- but for us it is Todd. He is always considerate of what I need and never complains about “sharing” our money because we trust each other to be good stewards of his earnings and we make decisions together.
..each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-23
It’s easy to say that respect is essential to marriage. It is harder to put it in action. As the SAHM and caretaker of the house and the kids (to a greater extent), it is very easy for me to get caught up in looking for everything that Todd is doing wrong. He left a dirty dish downstairs, he doesn’t help with the laundry, he comes home and just relaxes instead of helping with the kids. He is in my territory and not doing what I want.
A wonderful thing about marriage is that you each have a totally unique role that complements the other. While our marriage is based on traditional husband and wife values, we respect the authority that each of us has in their role. We are not in competition with each other! It is destructive to start arguing about who does more and who is better at something and keep score of when the other has not done their share. There will be no winner of this argument! You are each contributing in different, equally important ways to your family.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
It is easy to say that you forgive your husband for doing something wrong. Many times I have said “I forgive you,” but the next time the same subject comes up, I bring up his mistakes. And the longer we are married, the more things there are to bring up! But this is not truly forgiveness. You are going to make mistakes. Be willing to forgive each other completely and let it go. You will be a happier wife because of it and your marriage will be stronger.