Our small apartment is my domestic monastery. I may not have a bell or children calling me on to the next activity, but what I do have is a rhythm to my day. Within this routine, I have discovered that I really value being a stay-at-home wife. I find a lot of peace in being able to take care of our home, away from the concerns of business or upward mobility. It wasn’t always this way, though…
Striving for Approval
I had come to believe what the world says – I should have a job and be a contributing member of society. It felt as if my worth depended on that vital question, “What do you do for a living?” I didn’t think saying “stay-at-home wife” would be a good enough answer, so I spent months trying to find something that would make me feel like I was doing my part.
I tried starting an Etsy shop making cards and signs. As I pushed to promote my products, I realized that self-promotion felt unnatural. I felt like I was constantly trying to be someone I wasn’t. I may be creative and enjoy crafting, but promoting left me feeling more and more anxious. How should I sell it? Do I have to tell people about it? One day I realized that running a business just isn’t for me.
I kept looking for jobs, scrolling through page after page. Every time I looked I felt frustrated and discontent. Why can’t I find something? What should I even be looking for? Would I be healthy enough to work? I felt helpless as my doctor prescribed more and more supplements and as medical bill after medical bill arrived. I was being tormented by the thought that I was sucking up the money that could be paying for more “important things” in my mind. If you want to know more about my health challenges, check out my post On Suffering.
Dreams on Hold
William and I hoped that I could be a stay-at-home mom one day, but we had to put that dream on hold with my health being what it was. Somehow, staying at home seemed more justifiable in my mind if I had children. So not only was my health costing us financially, but it was also stalling our dream to start a family. This left me feeling quite defeated. I felt like my body had betrayed me and my deepest desires.
As William and I were discussing our plans for the future, he had the idea that I could learn to code. I was surprised! “Me? Learn to code? Like you?” He offered to help in the evenings when I needed, and I found a program to work through. We thought that in a year I might have a skill that could make some decent money. This lifted my spirits immensely. I could already envision myself busily typing away in my cubicle, surrounded by co-workers.
As I started learning more and more, I realized that I enjoyed computer programming. At the same time, I also realized that staying at home was more fulfilling than I ever expected it to be. I liked being able to keep up on chores and making homemade meals. Staying at home meant I had more time to read books and learn new things in general. I realized that part of the reason I wanted a job was to be around more people, but being at home didn’t stop me from seeing other people. It just meant that I had to put more effort into seeing friends or getting out of our apartment.
Trusting in God’s Will
Ultimately, I trusted that if God was calling me to be a stay-at-home wife then He would provide for our needs. I trusted William to be able to provide for us financially. I also began to really appreciate what we do have. Our car may not be the best looking but it gets us where we need to go and is usually reliable. Our apartment may be small, but that means I can actually keep it clean even on my bad days. I realized that if I went back to work I’d probably want nicer clothes, more gadgets, and a big house. By being at home I can just appreciate what we already have, and I’m content.
God gently worked on my heart to let go of the expectations I had placed on myself. While confronting my expectations, I also learned to let go of all the other voices saying, “You should use your college education,” or, “Why not work and save up before you have kids?” I realized there may not be any promotions in my future, but I’m 100% okay with that.
The day I realized that I desired to stay at home, I asked William,
“Is it really okay for me to just stay at home and that’s it?”
He responded, “Of course it is.”
I persisted, “Really, it’s okay I don’t go back to work?”
He said, “You’re the most important person to me. I want what’s best for you, and I want you to be happy.”
I knew deep down the importance of being a stay-at-home wife, but I could never articulate it as well as C.S Lewis did in his correspondence (from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III):
But [a housewife’s work] is surely, in reality, the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr Johnson said, ‘To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour’. (1st to be happy, to prepare for being happy in our own real Home hereafter: 2nd in the meantime, to be happy in our houses). We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist.”
Now I’m not striving anymore because I know I’m in the right place. I know that this is a decision that benefits both me and William. I don’t feel guilty anymore about the extra money I could be bringing in, or the people I could be helping through a job. Instead, I’ve found my place, hidden from most of the world. I find myself thriving in the embrace of our small apartment. I’m able to work on this blog, study, and care for my husband. I don’t get caught up in worries about what I should be doing because I have the peace of knowing where God is calling me.
I live my day to day life more like a contemplative. My life is less hectic. I’m reminded that work is good for the soul and not just for making money. I can focus more closely on my marriage vocation, cultivating my interior life and giving God glory through the small tasks of my day. I’m even at peace with God’s timing for having children now. Creating a peaceful retreat at home with loving care holds great value. Although not every wife has the option to make this choice, or would necessarily choose this path, I feel blessed to be a stay-at-home-wife. Ultimately the vocation is still the same – to love.
14 comments on “Why I’m a Stay-At-Home Wife”
Thank you for sharing your story. There is much strength in finding identity outside of what our culture defines as relevant and important. Blessings to you.
So True! Thanks for reading.
Bethany, thank you so much for sharing your story! I love your insight and I’m happy that you are now able to see that you are still able to fulfill your vocation in your present setting. Although I think your Etsy idea was awesome, I completely understand that it’s a rough go!
Have a great day, sister!
This was so beautifully written! Thank you for putting into words what, I’m sure, so many women can relate to (myself included). Sometimes I fear that I am wasting my talents by not being a part of the workforce but your blog has inspired me to look at all of the good that I am doing day to day and be grateful that I have the freedom to do so. Thank you!
Thank you for your kind words and glad this could speak to where you are in life too.
Have you ever read “A Mother’s Rule of Life” by Holly Pierlot? I know you aren’t a mother, but the book is about bringing order to your home and peace to your soul. You began the blog with, “Our small apartment is my domestic monastery.” That is what the book is about, creating a structure within the home to order your life. She keeps her priorities straight by keeping in mind the five P’s: Prayer, Person, Partner, Provider. If you would like to borrow it, just let me know.
Thank you for letting me borrow this book! I’m halfway through reading it and it’s definitely giving me lots of ideas.
Bethany, I just had a chance to sit down and read “Why I am a stay-at-home wife”. Wow what a beautifully written blog! I am so happy you are able to stay at home, & that you have discovered so much about yourself. You have realized what’s most important for you, your health, and William. I am also happy you are following your heart and God, I can’t wait to see what comes next! All my love to you and William, Mom
Thanks Mom! I can’t wait to see what comes next too.
Thank you for reflecting my thoughts and feelings so perfectly! I’ve been on a search for like minded individuals, as my husband and I would really love for me to come home from working. It’s been difficult to maintain morale, as we have some debt to pay off before I can come home. We are also childless. I was temporarily a housewife before my current job, and I too felt the pangs of insufficiency – however illogical they may have been. Even now, as we prepare for my return home, I feel like I should have definite plans and side “gigs” ironed out so that my choice is validated. I’m daily trying to make progress in the realization that I am “enough” simply as I am, and not based anything else. I pray that your New Year is going well, and thanks again for the encouraging words!
I took a break from blogging, but finding your comment upon returning makes me so glad that you could relate to what I wrote. I hope that God blesses you and where he is calling you right now!
Thank you for your response – and welcome back 🙂 It’s strange going back and reading my comment from January! Soon after that I did find peace in our plan and who I was as a person/how our life was coming together. Then in March, after 8 years of not preventing, I wound up pregnant (our first). Totally unexpected…and now I have several new ways in which to feel insufficient (ironically speaking). I’ll be coming home before the all the debt is paid and my trust in God will have to grow in new ways and in new areas. I didn’t say this before, but my husband also keeps suggesting I learn to code. We’ll see! Prayers that you are finding yourself in good health and in great peace.
Congratulations! That is incredible you are expecting your first, God is so good! I actually just had my son Thomas two months ago, so I will be sharing about that more now and I’d love to hear more about how the pregnancy and things are going for you. I wholeheartedly agree that new ways to feel insufficient pop-up especially with being a mom, but I think there is a peace still that this is where I’m called to be.
Thanks for sharing! I like the quote you shared from C.S. Lewis. It is a great perspective to see our world from!