Sean and I got married pretty much right out of high school - I was 19, Sean was 18. Both of us come from families of divorce - his parents divorced when he was 2, my parents when I was 16 (although my parents are now reconciled and living together). I definitely came of age with the belief that a woman can do anything a man can do, and that marriage should be a relationship between two equal partners. Basically, I thought the main goal in life was to find happiness for yourself. Boy have my opinions changed!
Shortly after getting married, Sean was stationed in Fort Worth, Texas (he was in the Marine Corps), so our first experience of living together was thousands of miles away from our family and friends. I soon found out this was a blessing in disguise.
As a newly married, newly cohabitating couple, we of course had fights, and each one seemed like the worst fight we ever had, even if it was about something trivial. During that first year I called my mom SO much to vent about whatever fight Sean and I were in the middle of. She was always totally supportive of me, and she would get good and mad at Sean WITH me. I soon learned the problem with this. Because even after Sean and I had talked things out and made up, my mom would still be holding a grudge against him. It took me a few years before I realized that for the sake of my marriage, I had to stop venting to my parents. So now, whenever they ask about how things are going between Sean and I, I always say we're doing great. It's really hard to say that sometimes, when inside I'm REALLY angry and need to talk, but I've learned to keep my mouth shut!
Before we decided to have kids, Sean and I both worked. He was still the main breadwinner of the house, as he was in the military, while I was basically going from job to job, trying to find a good "fit." During this whole time, Sean did most of the cooking for us, and I did the cleaning (which really consisted of dishes, laundry, and cleaning the bathroom when it got to looking REALLY bad). I had always planned to be a stay-at-home-mom once we had kids, and Sean let me know that in exchange for that, he wanted me to start cooking for us. For some reason, I fought SO hard against that. I had it stuck in my mind that I shouldn't have to cook. Everything had been going just fine as it was - so why did it have to change just because I stayed at home? Wasn't taking care of a baby considered a MORE than full-time job? It was really a pride issue for me. And I'll tell you, I really fought the idea as long as I could, and Sean knew it was something I wasn't happy about.
Then I got pregnant, and I quit my job shortly before we moved back up to Washington. Sean and I decided I wouldn't work for the rest of my pregnancy, because let's face it - no one is going to hire a visibly pregnant woman. And in any case, it would have only been a few months of work, because I planned to quit as soon as the baby was born. And that's when Sean "put his foot down." If I was going to stay at home, I was going to cook our meals and make his lunches for him to take to work. ARGGGGGHHHH! So, I did it, but I had a BAD attitude about it. It took a really long time before I realized how God was at work in me during that time, destroying all that nasty PRIDE that I had in myself, teaching me to SUBMIT and OBEY.
When Christina was born, Sean and I went through a really rough patch. I don't think either of us realized just how hard being a parent is. On top of that, Christina had colic for the first 4-6 months of her life, so ALL of my time was spent taking care of her or sleeping. I'm sure you see how this can be really bad for a marriage. Sean was feeling neglected, so he turned to his computer games for distraction, and I was feeling exhausted and angry that Sean wasn't helping me out more!
Things definitely improved for us as Christina got older and a little more independent. Both of our parents helped out with babysitting so Sean and I could go out on date nights. And little by little, we connected with each other again.
But really, up until fairly recently, I always resented Sean a little bit for the freedom that he seemed to have. When he comes home from work, he can relax and watch TV or play on the computer, while I take care of Christina pretty much 24/7 (not to say that he never plays with her, but it's only when HE wants to). He has made it very clear to me that it is his job to go to work and support our family, and it is my job to take care of Christina and do all the cooking and cleaning. Again, I felt that ugly PRIDE flaring up again. Why should it be MY job to take care of Christina even after Sean got home from work? I had friends who would hand off their kid to their husband as soon as they walked in the door. These same friends would go to "moms night out" events while their husbands stayed at home with the kids. To this day I have never been to one of those events. And I thought it was just so UNFAIR.
But God has done a lot of work in me, and in my husband too. I did a lot of reading on the subject of submission (One good book is Me? Obey Him? by Elizabeth Rice Handford, and another is The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Larua Schlessinger.) I've come to see what a BLESSING (not an OBLIGATION) it is to take care of my family. And as I've submitted to my husbands wishes (for childcare, cooking and cleaning, and intimacy), I've seen his love for me grow and grow. He constantly tells me how good I am to him and how I make his life so much better. And, a few months ago, Sean agreed to watch Christina for a couple hours every Wednesday evening so I could go to a Bible study (Considering he's not a Christian himself, this was a HUGE blessing!).
Recently, I saw a clip from the Rachel Ray Show on a blog post that talks about women who are living the way I am. Stay-at-home-moms and wives who take pleasure in cooking and cleaning and keeping a home while their husbands go to work and support the household. Now, to be honest, it would be hard for me to say that I really "take pleasure" in cooking and cleaning! But at the same time, I wouldn't want my life to be any other way. I'm not speaking for ALL women, just for myself, when I say that I truly believe that "my place is in the home." I am SO looking forward to homeschooling Christina and seeing her grow and mature right before my eyes. And I am so greatful to be able to bless Sean by taking care of our home and allowing him the freedom to relax when he gets home from work. I never thought I would end up so "old-fashioned," but I love it!
P.S. Here's another great blog post about being a "retro wife": On One Income