There is a demographic of women that are in a stage of their lives that society doesn't offer a clear answer as to what they should be doing. We are all pretty clear that single women must make a living, so they work. We know that when women have children, they have a good reason to stay home if they want, while having the option of the working/daycare scene. But what about the ladies that are married, but don't have children at home? What are they to do? You might think that a silly question, because, of course they should work, but I'd like to make the suggestion that perhaps this station of life, the in-between time, deserves more thought, rather than just assuming she will work full time.
I currently am an "in-betweener," not having children, yet attempting to care for my husband and home. I have worked full time outside of the home while in this situation, although I do not currently work at all, and I plan to work part time soon. When I meet people, the first question is often, "Where do you work?" That's a fine question, but it does point to the fact that our society is rather work-heavy, not family-heavy. To think that a woman wouldn't work, especially without children at home, almost seems lazy, and sometimes I feel embarrassed to admit I'm not working, and it's not just because I can't find a job. Sometimes I feel like people think I am just getting manicures and massages all day, watching soap operas and gossip talk shows. In truth, when I worked full time I was getting bad headaches from being overly busy. I never wanted to hang out with people and felt stressed constantly. I know I have lower energy than other women, but it really was taking a toll on me. I had felt like being single and trying to hold everything together was difficult, but when there was the added stress after marriage of meal planning, shopping for two, cooking (no, I didn't really cook as a single), yardwork, and basically assuming all household and appointment responsibilities for two people, I felt overwhelmed. My particular situation is one where my husband has many outside projects always going on, so it really was just me doing, what seemed like, everything else. (Not to complain, I just married an awesome handyman.) I know there are single moms that do these things everyday while holding down a full time job, and all I can say is "kudos", because I know it's tough.
Something also to consider is that women really just aren't as physically or emotionally hardy as men, as a general rule, so husbands may find it hard to relate when she's tuckered out from it all. My husband can push through and not sleep when I can't. He can make unending plans with people when I would've been passing out at their doorstep with a lasagna in hand from exhaustion. So, there's that, and, on a touchier subject, stress can also keep your lady from being able to get pregnant, if that's the stage of life you are at. For more on that, click here.
I point out these things just to give another perspective. Some in-betweeners have kids that are now teenagers or that have moved out. Some have never had kids at all and aren't going to. And some are like me, having just been married, but not quite to the kid-stage. I know that all in-betweeners don't feel the same way I do; many have oodles of energy and would hate to not do their job full time. But husbands, have compassion on your lady if she is bringing up hints of you letting her work less; respectfully, and prayerfully, consider it. It's hard to see outside of the "Why wouldn't we save money while we can?" mindset, but stop for a minute to think that life is not only about a cushy retirement and a house that is paid off quickly. It's about caring for this precious wife God has given you, and noticing when her responsibilities have become too great. God has given women the wonderful ability and responsibility to nurture and care for her household. Let her do it, however that plays out in your particular situation.