I honestly didn’t plan to post again until after the wedding but Jon and I had a long conversation last night. It spanned a few topics but ended in a discussion that spawned self examination and this post.
I have this belief that if I’m not contributing to our household finances, then I’m an extra expense. It’s partially because I’m accustomed to being the sole responsible adult. And it’s partially because I brought a significant amount of debt into this relationship and I’m not comfortable shouldering Jon with payments he didn’t help incur. But in our discussions last night I realized that even when those are paid off, I would still be uncomfortable staying home full time. I LOVE my days at home right now but the idea of doing it full time, specifically spending money that I didn’t help earn, well…it makes my skin crawl. The idea of being a stay at home wife makes me feel like a burden, not a partner. I can’t fathom buying stuff for on his dime. That new shampoo I want to try but that is more expensive, lipstick, a new tablecloth? All non-essentials that don’t benefit the family and the idea of spending his hard earned money on them makes my throat close up.
My mother was a stay at home mother/wife even after we were all in school. I have great admiration for SAHMs. I am awe of full time home-makers and think they are great blessings to their families no matter what the age of their kids. Jon has told me numerous times that he would be more than happy to have me home fulltime – if that’s what I wanted. He’s encouraged me to find a job that fulfills me no matter what the pay. He’s told me over and over that he wants me to be happy, wants to take care of me, considers it a privilege. So why can’t I even consider the idea? What would make my situation different from the SAHMs I admire? Why would I consider myself a burden when Jon has reassured me I’d be anything but that?
I finally figured it out this morning while I was thinking about submission. (Stay with me here. This rabbit trail makes sense later. I think). Surprisingly (VERY surprisingly actually) I don’t have a problem with Jon being “head of the household”. Jon deserves a lot of credit for the fact that my hackles aren’t raised by the idea. He makes it easy because he approaches our life as a team event, sees me as a partner. My father and mother had/have the same relationship. I always recognized the fact that my father was the ultimate authority. If there was ever an impasse in decision making, his word was final but more often than not we heard “Go ask your mother”. I knew they discussed everything. I think women usually hear the word “submissive” and translate that to “quietly bow to his every whim” or “pushover”. But my parents were a great example of how a biblical marriage should work. Between that and Jon’s attitude, even I can swallow the role of a biblically submissive wife. He knows I won’t sit quietly if I disagree with something (or, um, anytime really) and I know he’ll seriously listen to my opinions and ideas. So I’m okay with following my parents’ relationship example – except for letting Jon support me financially. I never doubted Dad would take care of us. He had to, he was our father. (Yes I KNOW how flawed that is but as a kid I didn’t know any different). I never wondered if Mother or we were a burden. Dad brought home the check, Mom ran the house. That’s just the way things worked. I never doubted he loved Mother unconditionally. He HAD to love us. We were his kids. And so he had to love Mom because she was the mother of his kids. Again – child logic – but I think that’s the basis of my financial burden hang up. Somehow, somewhere it’s ingrained in me that Dad loved/loves and supported/supports my mother unconditionally at least in part because they chose to start a family together. Jon and I chose to bring our family together and we will share a lot of parenting moments. But it’s different. We will never share a lot of the key experiences I see as binding many other parents together.
So ALL of that to say – I really think that I don’t feel like I don’t deserve his financial support because we didn’t start our married life together and I’m not the mother of his children – somehow that makes me unworthy. Perhaps that’s a bit anticlimactic after two pages worth of babbling but there it is.