Domestic Wisdom for Young Wives

Effectively running a home is a challenge which each husband and wife needs to be attentive to. While some people have the luxury of domestic helpers and while modern equipment has brought wonderful assistance in the home, there is still a need to be attentive to the effective administration of domestic processes.

Thank God for Mum

Many young wives have the advantage of assistance from their mothers, who have trained them well, or who may assist them in the home, to ensure they stay on top of the domestic challenges.

At the same time it seems that the phenomenon of the working wife and mother has undermined the training and thus the confidence of each new generation of young brides.

While I am a man (a ‘bloke’ in Aussie parlance) I have observed at least a few things that might be helpful. I have also found that husbands have a key role to play and so I am writing as a husband. I probably should also write an article specifically for the husbands.

Observing Susan

My own young bride, Susan, was incredibly well prepared for domestic challenges by her mother. Susan’s mum is an amazing and capable woman who excels in all she does. Susan is just like her mum. The skill sets needed for cooking, making clothes, processing domestic tasks, self-motivation and high levels of productivity were well developed in my beautiful bride. So I confidently abandoned all the domestic management to my wife.

The Abandoned Wife

You will note my choice of the term ‘abandoned’ in the previous sentence. I had no interest in domestic wisdom and management and saw all of that as the woman’s territory. I was delighted with Susan’s consciousness of the needs and processes and readily threw all of that responsibility onto her.

That was, however, an act of abandonment. I was being irresponsible and indulging my desire to be mothered by my wife. I speak of this tendency in males as ‘abdication’. Husbands are the guide and security for their wife and should take an active interest in her domestic management.

Sadly many young wives have no real support from their husband and also have little preparation from their home of origin. They are truly abandoned from all quarters.

Susan’s Need

I have already extolled the wonderful virtues of my darling bride, whom I married 35 years ago. My friends were envious of her cooking and her girlfriends were impressed by her amazing ability to make lovely garments for herself and the children.

Early in our married life, however, I found that Susan had a need. She was not naturally wise in terms of setting a domestic pattern for our new home.

Susan became frustrated by not achieving what she wanted to achieve in a given time period. She also became exhausted and burdened at certain points during the week.

At first I assumed there was something temporarily getting in the way and I was keen to leave the problem with her. Remember that I was a committed abdicator and thought nothing of abandoning all domestic management to my wife.

I finally realised there was a problem that I needed to look into. Susan was distressed and I wanted her to be happy. So I investigated the situation.

It turned out that Susan was compressing several of the larger weekly chores into just one day. She wanted to get washing, shopping and ironing dispensed with in one huge effort. But that effort was overpowering her, draining her physically and emotionally and leaving her feeling as if she had somehow failed me as her husband.

Husband to the Rescue

When I discovered what the problem was I came to Susan’s aid. I suggested that she spread the most difficult jobs evenly across the week, so she could have a rest day between each of the more demanding days. That way she would be less likely to become overly stressed, either physically or emotionally.

Susan was delighted with my suggestion and appreciated my care and concern. She rearranged her domestic expectations, spread the jobs out to the most suitable days and settled into an effective routine that became the basis for the rest of her life.

The American Doctor

While in the USA on one occasion I heard from a doctor’s wife who praised the assistance she received from her husband.

She was very keen to bless her husband, but she also had many other hopes and expectations for her days. She became overburdened at times and felt distressed when the things that were important to her husband ended up being the things which she did not get done in time.

Her husband lovingly suggested that she present him with a list of those things she was keen to achieve over the coming weeks. He would review her list and put a mark next to those things which were most important to him. This way he was able to give her clear guidance as to which tasks were most appropriate for her to persist with.

The wife was not stopped from doing anything on her list. The point was not to frustrate the wife’s hopes and ambitions. The aim was to empower her to please her husband and to be sure that she had met his expectations and fitted in with his priorities.

The wife would regularly present her husband with an updated list of her planned activities and he would routinely give her his guidance. She testified to the wonderful release she received from that process, being given the guidance that she otherwise lacked.

Your Domestic World

In different cultures there are different processes, expectations and arrangements. Your personal domestic needs may be completely different to anything I would think of. Whatever your situation I recommend that couples make it a joint exercise to determine the appropriate wisdom for the domestic needs of the home.

This will mean that husbands must not abandon their wife but be willing to become actively engaged in working through the process. It will also require the wife to submit her domestic concepts and ambitions to the scrutiny of her husband.

When it is all said and done the home belongs to both the wife and husband. It needs to work for them both. Husbands must provide the guidance and care which the wife needs, so the wife can make her contribution with wisdom and optimal effectiveness.

Un-Charming Prince

What does a woman do when she wakes up one day and realises her Prince Charming is a dope? Or maybe he is irresponsible, opinionated, ineffective, vain, shallow, insecure, unreliable or otherwise less than charming. What does a wife do when she discovers that her hero is, in reality, an Un-Charming Prince?

I have seen at times the look of exasperation in the eyes of a young bride. I have heard the sighs of resignation. I have heard the sharp words or the hurt rebukes of a wife feeling sadly done-by as her husband heads off on some irresponsible or self-indulgent endeavour. My own sweet Susan expressed those very things herself, as she confronted my irresponsibility and general failure to be what she had hoped.

The process I am describing is, in fact, to be expected in every marriage. We all see in our beloved a range of things which are born of hope more than reality. We impose upon them our own biased view of who they are. We even overlook the evidence of their shortcomings. We may think that those things are just incidental glitches in an otherwise idyllic person. Or we may think that once we are married those negative qualities will smooth away. “She only needs someone to love her”, or, “Once I get him away from his friends he’ll be a much better person”, are the types of thoughts that can beguile us about our future spouse.

The initial phase of marriage is oft referred to as the ‘Honeymoon Phase’, where everything is seen with rose-coloured glasses. The ‘In-Love Phase’ is full of hopeful expectation. The ‘Honeymoon Phase’ is sweetened by new levels of relationship and intimacy. But eventually both the In-Love experience and the intoxication of the new intimacy must yield to the growing body of evidence. The weaknesses of the spouse continue to show up and the accumulating evidence becomes increasingly compelling. The small annoyances begin to loom as proof of deeper problems.

Just as the husband often proves to be an Un-Charming Prince, the wife equally proves to be other than her husband once hoped. As and when this happens, don’t be alarmed. This is an important step toward maturity and toward the deepening of your marriage and your joy. I don’t say that to be condescending, but I speak from sound personal experience. So in a few days I’ll share some of my own journey with you, in order for you to see that the ugly realisation of an Un-Charming Prince or a tainted Cinderella is a step toward greater blessing. Keep an eye out for further posts referring to the Un-Charming Prince – that will point you to my further discussions on this important issue.

This post is part of a series on the Un-Charming Prince: