THE WIFE'S HOME BUSINESS
From Volume 1 Issue 2 of Unless the Lord ... Magazine
10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. 14 She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. 15 She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. 18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. 26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 29 "Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all." Prov 31:10-29 (NAS)
The excellent wife of Proverbs 31 not only takes care of the home, but also contributes to the family's income through a home business, the making and selling of linen garments and belts. The picture of the excellent wife is one of a very hard working woman, who puts her husband and family first. It is not the idealized picture of the Victorian woman who is waited on by others and occupies herself merely with teas and social activities. This woman is never idle but works hard and makes herself strong so that she is more productive and able to do more herself. Indeed she is remarkable for her ability to take such good care of her household, to minister to the poor, and to also make items for sale to others. Truly this is probably beyond what most women could do, particularly while they have young children!
But some wives at points in their lives are able and desirous of contributing to the family income with a home business - a business that allows her to work for herself or her husband (not another man or other authority outside the home), while staying at home with the children and keeping her primary focus on the care of home and family. This is fine and good as long as priorities are kept straight and other problems don’t creep in.
If the wife has or is contemplating a home business, there are certain cautions good to keep in mind. There are plenty of examples around where things have gotten out of balance and damage has been done to families. Husbands and wives, be on your guard! If the home business is starting to create marriage or child rearing problems, take action promptly to correct your course or close down the home business! You would be better off struggling financially due to the loss of its income than to allow real damage to your marriage and children.
There are reasons both good and bad for the wife having a home business. Therefore it is good to examine your motives and why you want a home business. Some possible motivations include:
1. Discontent with the husbands' wages, feeling that he is not providing adequately for the family (not working hard enough or trying hard enough to find a better job, etc.).
2. To help reach an important financial goal, perhaps paying off a debt or buying a car or home.
3. To pay for extras that the husband's income may not easily provide for (music lessons, vacations, etc.)
4. To develop a home business to the point that her husband could quit his job and come home to run it without significant loss of income to the family.
5. To simply contribute some extra income by using her spare time and talents.
Beware of motivations rooted in discontent or dissatisfaction with your husband. These are not pleasing to the Lord and can yield bitter fruit in the end. Beware of motivations tied to increasing your independence from your husband or creating your own "career". Any business enterprise undertaken by a wife should be fully under her husband's authority. Though the wife may be operating all aspects of the business, it should still operate under the husband's authority and for the good of the family. There should be
pre-agreement as to the business' goals and how the income will be used.
What is the problem? Isn't it a good thing for the family that the wife's business is so successful? Well this situation creates certain temptations for both the husband and the wife. They may handle these temptations well or poorly, if poorly, the result may be disaster for the family.
1. The husband may feel inadequate. The husband knows he is responsible for supporting his family but now feels that his wife is more capable of doing this than he. He feels inadequate and not needed. Much of his self worth was tied up in his role of supporting his wife and children. He may feel the children no longer respect him or feel they need him. Super wife and mother can do everything! This can lead to depression, bitterness, poor self image, and resentment towards his wife. The husband may also feel improperly dependent on his wife. And he may feel jealousy and the need to compete with her, yet feeling he really cannot compete - he is losing!
2. The husband may be demotivated to work. If the family can live on the wife's income, then why keep knocking himself out and keep putting up with all the frustrations of the workplace? Why not retire early and enjoy life? He may succumb to laziness, irresponsibility and self-centeredness. But even while enjoying his new liberty, he may feel resentment at being displaced and a bit ashamed of his living off of her work.
The husband may retreat from his role in the family. The husband may so identify his role with that of bread-winner that he is tempted to retreat from all of his roles once he feels replaced in this one. He may adopt the role of homemaker to allow his wife more time to work. He may even yield all his authority as head of the household to his wife.
The change to being a major, if not the primary, financial support for the family also brings temptations to the wife.
1. To regard children & home responsibilities as less important & increasingly neglect them. When the wife's work is providing a major part of the family income, it is tempting for the wife to see this work as her most important contribution. The business / job makes her feel more important than she does when she is caring for and teaching her children. She is tempted to spend more time in the business and less with home and childraising responsibilities. She now perhaps has the money to hire others to teach and raise the children and handle the housecleaning, laundry, cooking and all other home care duties. [This is not to say you should never hire others to assist with some of these.]
2. To take charge of more things in the marriage and home. Now that the wife is making significant money, she is tempted to feel she should have more authority in the marriage. She especially may think that the decision on how to spend her income should be hers alone. She may come to expect more respect, appreciation, and deference from her husband (who himself is starting to become jealous and bitter). She may view herself as an equal partner who must agree to every decision, or even as the senior partner now!
3. To feel much more independent of her husband. The wife may be tempted to feel she needs her husband much less now. And if he is falling victim to the temptation of becoming lazy and self-centered, she may begin to think, "Who needs him anyway?" When conflict or other marital problems arise, she is much more ready to consider leaving him. She may come to relish the feeling of independence to do what she likes!
4. Temptations from business related travel and relationships. When the wife's business requires her to travel away from home and husband, she is exposed to added temptations. These temptations are not much different than men encounter in business travel. But now the wife may also be developing business friendships with other men, away from the company of her husband. When coupled with other problems at home, perhaps stemming from the wife's newly successful business, temptations to infidelity for both husband and wife are increased by these business relationships and travel.
When both husband and wife are working together in a business as a team and each playing roles in line with their proper roles within a family, then most of these potential problems are avoided. However, beware trying to recast the wife's business into a true family business. You are liable to just fool yourself, calling it one thing while it truly functions as another.
Consider: What are the respective roles and contributions? If the wife is in the role of helper and assistant to her husband - then roles will not become reversed and all is well. But if the business is really the wife's brain child and it is her talents that are really primary and key to the success of the business, then whose business is it, really? You both still face most of the temptations stated earlier. Simply naming the husband the president and calling it a family business, does not truly make it so! Whatever the husband's title and supposed decision making role, if he sees that he is easily replaceable while his wife is not, then he may still feel that he is working for her, not vice versa.
Picture a husband and wife team, he with a decently paying, but perhaps dead end job, she staying at home and caring for 4-6 children. Then one day she has an idea for turning a talent of hers into a successful business! She begins the business by first using her spare time and then by sacrificing sleep. Then over the next few years the business prospers wonderously! The wife becomes widely recognized for her remarkable talent and becomes a little bit of a celebrity. She needs help to keep the business growing and it is doing so well that her husband gladly quits his frustrating job to come home and help. Over the next few years the business continues to grow as also does the widespread admiration for the wife’s abilities. But her husband feels increasingly unimportant, he is an unknown who seems to make little real contribution to the business. As his wife needs to travel more now, he is left at home to take care of the kids and more and more of the household responsibilities fall to him. He begins to get depressed, jealous and even bitter at his wife's success and celebrity. Perhaps he takes to drinking and his bitterness comes out in angry outbursts directed towards both wife and children. Perhaps even physical abuse results! What is likely to happen with this family? Perhaps a separation and divorce because of the physical abuse. Or perhaps the wife meets another man during her travels who seems more gentle and appreciative of her talents. How tempting to trade in the old husband for a new one!
Wives, before you start a home business determine that God, your husband, and your children will always come first. Don't compromise in this area! Decide up front how much time you can afford to invest and how far you are willing to take the business. Don't expand the business beyond these limits without careful consideration and prayer and the agreement of your husband. Be wary of expanding the business to a point where your husband might feel threatened in his role as provider.
If trying to start a new family business, the wife should not take the lead. Wives, be patient and wait for your husband to take leadership and the primary responsibility. You play the role of his helpmate, working under his leadership!
Wives, trust God to provide for your financial needs through your husband. Learn contentment - don't take matters into your own hands! Your marriage and family is far more important than either your money or your financial “security”!