When did marriage, motherhood and career become a recipe for an overburdened woman? When did we get here as a society and how do we fix it? Here are two powerful biblical principles that can help lessen the frustration you may be feeling, as an overburdened woman. BONUS: a fresh take on how to better partner with your spouse and get the help that you need!
The Overburdened Woman: Principle 1
The Role of the Wife
When God created woman, he did so because he recognized that Adam needed a partner in life. He saw that it was not good for man to be alone. This is the first principle to recognize – our men need us. They need our presence and they need our participation in life.
When we consider our partnership, I always think of the Proverbs 31 woman. I think this scripture should come with a disclaimer that this is not something that God said – it’s a king’s perception of a wife, based off of his mother’s teachings. However, I still place value on this text, as God felt it was valid enough for it to account for an entire chapter within the Bible. If you haven’t read the full text, do so here.
A wife is like an investment for her husband. Anything that comes to her, she is able to multiple. That’s part of the ‘womb-man’ that lead to the name woman. She has a womb. She is able to incubate and generate life.
This goes far beyond giving birth, which is a show stopping miracle in itself. This also includes things like finances, as we sell our products or services for income. Or, as we invest our money, time and effort, and yield returns that we can add back into our households. We also run our households, knowing what our family’s needs are and in what timeframe those are needed.
Women are smart, capable, well-rounded, detail oriented, strong, etc. This is what makes us the full-package deal that men need as a partner. However, we have to use these strengths with caution, as the culmination of them can quickly turn good intentions into an overburdened woman.
Becoming the Overburdened Woman
Here is where things get off track. While we’re busy supporting our husbands and working side by side with them, we’re also tending to our own careers, maintaining a household, raising children, and anything else that’s needed…because we are the “default”, where all miscellaneous tasks land. Meanwhile, our husbands maintain their traditional role as the “provider”, with little outside of that scope.
I’m not taking anything away from the work that men do. What I’m pointing out is that women have stepped into the space of providing, without shedding any previous duties. Women are “doing it all” with little to no help.
Realities of the Overburdened Woman
The proof is the fact that the majority of advertising has a focus on females. This is because marketers know that women are the ones who know the needs of and make the decisions for maintaining their households and families.
It started with fast food chains and microwave dinners for quick meals after a long work day, because it’s still usually up to the woman to figure out meals. Now, we have grocery picking and delivery, due to limited time from juggling duties, and there are endless housekeeping services, daycare, etc. to help keep our household and children maintained while we are away. Overburdened.
The proof is also in our social trends. We use any and all social media platforms available to seek out cleaning hacks, organizational tips, scheduling tools, etc. – anything that we think can help lessen the volume or weight of duties that we have each day. Besides trying to help ourselves out, we’re grateful for the reality posts on social media, where a woman bares all, telling of their stresses and sadness in trying to maintain composure under the weight of “doing it all”. It makes us feel like we’re not alone in this struggle. Overburdened.
The Need for Men to Help More
Even though the year is 2020, stat after stat shows that, even though women are working full-time outside of the home, they are still maintaining the majority of household and childcare duties.
This growing pile of responsibilities that women are taking on continues to drive wedges in their marriages. Women are stressed, angry and bitter. This results in tense marriages filled with resentment, fights and, sometimes, end in divorce. So, how does the bible address the overburdened woman?
The Overburdened Woman: Principle 2
This next biblical principle is in 1 Corinthians 13. Most people know this by the “love” scripture (love is patient, love is kind…), which is correct and used many times during weddings. However, what most people don’t do is start from the very beginning. That is where we find the answer to this struggle that most modern marriages are facing. Here is the first section of this chapter:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
The next section goes into the well-known scripture. You can read that here if you’d like.
The chapter, then, wraps up with this, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
So, what is the take away of this scripture?
Regardless of what great things we do, if we do not have love, then we still have and accomplish absolutely nothing.
As women, we run ourselves ragged trying to “do it all”. But if at the end of the day, we’re grouchy, stressed and have little to give back to our spouse and children, then is it really all worth it? This scripture tells us no. We can do it all and more, but if we don’t have love, we have nothing at all.
This is not saying that you don’t love your husband and children because your overburdened. Of course you love them. But are you acting in a loving way? That’s where the second part of this scripture ties in beautifully. According to the scripture, love is patience, kind, does not envy or boost, is not self-seeking, etc. When you’re tired, ragged, resentful, stressed and more…you can pretty much be certain you’re not acting in love.
Combining the Principles
When we partner these two principles together, here is what we have. We are to be partners to our husbands – refer to Proverbs 31 again. However, we are not to burden ourselves to the point that we have no love left to give after our “partner” duties end.
This is where overly packed schedules, unrealistic expectations and never-ending to do lists need to go. There is no room in the ministry of our marriage and in the raising of our children for an overburdened and stressed mother and wife.
A New Perspective
Instead, women need to start a new trend: love first, no matter what. No matter if the house gets cleaned or not, no matter if that means scaling back on extracurricular activities, no matter if that means downsizing lifestyle to reduce the stress to keep growing income, etc. Women are such a huge impact to their households – husbands, children, environment. With keeping love first, we enable growth and goodness in all areas. Without love, it doesn’t matter how strong we think we are, we are shorting everyone and everything around us.
BONUS: Partnering in a Different Way
In addition to changing our perspective on our work, we will have to partner with our men differently. While still helping them lead and support our families, we need to help them understand how they can help play a larger role in this new territory of dual incomes, while balancing household and family duties as well.
With over 50% of households being dual income, only starting in the 1970’s, there’s really only been around 5 decades of experience. This equates to only one to two generations of families working under these circumstances.
I bring this up, as women get extremely frustrated with their husband’s lack of participation in household and childcare duties. But the thing is, men do not have strong examples to go off of for this. They are doing what they know, which is mimicking the role that their father, and their father’s father played.
Meanwhile, women have been practicing home keeping and child rearing since the beginning of time – that’s why we’re better and more efficient at it! Have you ever hear, “just let me do it” or “you’re doing it all wrong”? That’s the decades of experience built into us as females versus the rookie male stepping into unfamiliar territory.
In order for women to unburden themselves, we will have to partner with our husbands and help them learn some of our duties. This will better allocate the workload between the two spouses. This process will require love and partnership.
When duties and roles are realigned and better shared, women will be able to unburden themselves and provide their families with the love that actually makes a difference.