Traditionally, we use the word “work” to describe what someone does for a living and how they earn money. Working in scripture seems to be more appropriately defined by a role we take on. Care taking and looking after a home and family is work. Bringing in an income is also work. Scripture tells us this in Proverbs 31, however a woman chooses to work, it is considered noble to do so.
So why is it often frowned upon when a woman earns more income than her husband? Why is it considered “not letting the man lead” when a woman has a career to support her family? Why does the world tell us a man has to be the one who works to provide financially?
I’ve chosen to dive deeper into this recently because I was both confused and hurt by a question asked of my husband and I:
“Don’t you want your husband to be the bread winner?”.
No. I do not.
I want my husband to be a leader for our family and provider. There are many ways he can do that. I want my husband to know and love Jesus and lead me closer to Him. I want my husband to provide love and protection, the way God commands him to. I want my husband to be a helper and be strong when I am not. I want my husband to use each and every unique gift God gave him as a man in the best ways for both of us.
“Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life.” 1 Peter 3:7.
I do not want my husband to feel the pressure to put income and work before our family. I do not want my husband ashamed of or embarrassed by his income. My husband loves his job and I am extremely proud of him for the career he has. God gave my husband specific talents that he gets to use daily and I couldn’t ask for more. It may not make us millionaires, but it gives us everything we want and need for our lives together.
I love my job as well. Every day I get to interact with people and see God doing incredible things. I travel the world and am also home more often than a regular 9-5. I enjoy what I do and I am blessed that I make more than enough doing it. That is not something my husband or I need to be ashamed of or embarrassed by.
So why is it so taboo for a woman to make more than a man in a marriage?
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”1 Corinthians 11:3.
Something gets lost in translation from where scripture tells us that a man should be the head of woman and the leader in his marriage. Many of us are mistaking exactly what leadership is. And what it is not.
So often, we equate leadership with income. We have been convinced that it is the man’s job to provide and work to do so. However, a leader isn’t defined by the job they have, but by the decisions they make and how those decisions effect those they lead. A man can provide for his family in so many more ways than simply making money.
My husband is the leader of our family. He leads by great example in the way he loves me, his wife. While we don’t have children yet, I am confident he will lead them well when the time comes, teaching them as they grow valuable lessons and loving them unconditionally. He makes decisions by first considering how they will effect me and our life together. My husband is also an incredible provider. He provides an income for our family, yes, but he also provides comfort for when I need it, protection, help around the house, caring for our dog when I’m away or tired from work, and most importantly, a love like Jesus for me, his wife.
Having a well paying job is valuable yes, but it certainly doesn’t make you a leader. And being a wife is one of our most important roles, but it doesn’t have to be our only role. Being a wife who works or makes a higher income than her husband does not make him less of a leader. In fact, scripture tells us that a wife of noble character works. And she works hard.
“She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Proverbs 31:15-18.
A wife of noble character might be seen as a care taker, mother, and home maker, working hard all day around the house. Or a wife of noble character can be seen in the fields, working away from the home to bring in food or money. Or both! “Her dealings are profitable”. A wife of noble character can be the bread winner. And there is nothing wrong with that.
“But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.” 1 Corinthians 11:11-12.
My husband and I have taken turns being the “bread winner”. That is what works for us. We go where God leads us and trust His plans for us, and with that comes constant changing of life seasons and allowing each other to hold the other up. In fact, there’s scripture about that too.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
Ladies, I know we expect a lot of our men. And the world expects even more from them. It’s never wrong to remind the world that it’s our choice to expect what God does of our husbands and nothing more or less. After all, it’s not our husbands job to conform to the world. And it’s not our job to either. It’s our job to live by God’s Word and allow that to guide our lives.
So for the working girl who’s husband is providing as a leader in many ways. I see you. I am you. I am proud of you and your husband for finding what works and being a team, made up of a chord of three strands, and holding each other up.
“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12.
You’re one part of a three part support system, leaning on both each other and God. He designed marriage that way for a reason. We were designed to be each of our husbands helper and if helping means going to work to provide income for our family, being “the bread winner” is a gift from God we need to embrace.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him”. Genesis 2:18.