I am a 24-year-old mother of two young children aged 3 and 1. I am a full-time stay-at-home mom, and I love being able to care for my children. My husband works for a large corporate firm and works a lot of hours, sometimes as many as 85 per week. I know that my place is in the home caring for our children, and that his primary responsibility is to provide for me and our children. When my husband is at home, he wants everything to be spotlessly clean, dinner ready and waiting, and he will not help with the care of the children or the house, even when asked nicely. I understand that he is tired, but is there a way to approach him and help him to understand that his responsibilities as father, husband, and head of our home do not end when he punches the time clock? Or, am I the one who is in the wrong by expecting him to help when he is at home?
A tired Mommy
Dear tired Mommy,
The family years when children are small are not always easy. There is often not time for either husband or wife to do all the things that they would like to do, and the pressures of work for the husband and maintaining the home for the wife can sometimes be severe. If your husband is working 85 hours per week, he is probably doing as much or more than some other men would who hold down two full-time jobs. In addition, his work is probably rather physical, so he must be rather tired when he comes home. On the other hand, caring for two children, ages one and three, is undoubtedly more than an 85-hour per week occupation, and it is also rather physical. You probably feel as tired as your husband does when he gets home.
When two people come together in a marriage relationship they bring with them pre-conceived notions of the roles of husband and wife. Because of their different backgrounds these pre-conceived notions are seldom the same, so some adjustments must be made. However, changing pre-conceived notions is not easy. The usual thing is that each party expects the other to do the changing. Therefore it takes some time before each of the parties in a marriage relationship see eye to eye on all matters–usually about a lifetime.
There are some principles that could be applied that would shorten the period and bring unexpected joy and happiness into the relationship. One of the principles of happiness, adopted, for instance, by covenant by those who are sealed together as husband and wife in the holy temples of the Mormon Church, is the law of sacrifice. If each partner in the marriage relationship were to sacrifice his or her own personal interest in favor of the interest of his or her companion, they would have the happiest of relationships. If our primary interest were to make our partner happy, then we would find fulfillment and joy in the object or our labors. When those things are done with no thought of recognition or reward, the object of our affection is blessed, built up, and made happy by our actions, and we are blessed, built up, and made happy by a loving Father in Heaven.
The ideal situation would be where both parties equally pursue the benefit of the other, but that equality comes only with time. Nevertheless, it is not part of the equation. If our acts of affection are done without thought of recognition or reward, there is no expectation. The deed is its own reward. Let me quote a few lines from “The Greatest Thing In The World,” a delightful treatise on 1 Cor. 13, by Henry Drummond, (1851- 1897) a Scottish clergyman and scientist. As Paul says that charity (love) suffereth long and is kind, Drummond has this to say about the kindness manifestation of love-
“Have you ever noticed how much of Christ’s life was spent in doing kind things–in merely doing kind things? Run over it with that in view, and you will find that He spent a great proportion of His time simply in making people happy, in doing good turns to people. There is only one thing greater than happiness in the world, and that is holiness; and it is not in our keeping; but what God has put in our power is the happiness of those about us, and that is largely secured by our being kind to them.
“‘The greatest thing,’ says someone, ‘a man can do for his Heavenly Father is to be kind to some of His other children.'”
To lose ourselves in the service of others, and especially in our own home, is to follow the example of the Master–a life so lived as to bring the highest fulfilment and the greatest happiness to any individual.