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Q & A

I Feel Like My Husband's Maid

Q. My husband and I have a huge inequality when it comes to our leisure time. He works full-time away from home; I work part-time from our home and handle virtually all the housework and childcare except for car maintenance and outdoor Saturday chores. I have to get up earlier than he to get him and the kids ready for the day. He has time to play with our kids. In the evenings when he's settled down to watch TV, I'm still paying the bills or folding laundry. He takes his leisure when he wants or needs it, but I don't have that luxury. Is this a wife's role, and I should just stop complaining about it? It's hard not to be resentful.

A. Yours is not an uncommon problem. Most contemporary couples need to evaluate (or reevaluate) their housekeeping standards and tasks and the division of labor.

During all this time that your resentment has been growing, have you approached your husband, calmly, to talk with him about it? A good conversation and reconsideration of the housework involved may be eye-opening to your husband. In other words, it may be that you see things that need to be done more than he sees them, and that as he becomes aware of both the extent of the work to be handled and your feelings of hardship, he'll be willing to pitch in. Just having this conversation and working out a fair division of labor can help the two of you develop a better sense of teamwork or partnership, and you'll find your marital satisfaction growing again as you watch him take on more of the household tasks. Remind him that his help will allow you to share your leisure time more effectively as well.

Your reevaluation of the household and childcare work to be handled could lead to some adjustments on your part as well. Maybe you'll be able to relax some areas of your housekeeping standards as you realize they're not high priorities to your husband. Or maybe together you'll find some space in the schedule for some down time for you.

Work on this together. It's more productive than stewing in your resentments, alone.

Q. He'll Leave If I Become a Better Christian

My husband and I married young (we are both still in our twenties). We've been through a lot together but lately we've drifted apart. When I was a teenager, I became a Christian, but I haven't been living for God for a long time. Right now, part of me wants to go ahead and make the first step back toward life with God, but I'm positive that it will alienate my husband even further. He might even leave. What's your advice?

A. Your question has a cut-and-dried answer. It's not as if you were weighing your relationship with one human person against another. This time you're weighing you're relationship with a person against your relationship with God—and there's no question that your relationship with God is ultimately the most important.

But don't be convinced that your husband will reject you if you choose to live wholeheartedly for God. You will have the Holy Spirit to give you insights and help you live out your faith in a way that won't necessarily alienate your husband. In fact, the apostle Paul talks about how a husband may even be won over to faith by the gentle and chaste behavior of a believing wife (1 Peter 3:1-6).

Obviously, there may be some lifestyle issues that will have to change because you've given your life to God—and that could bring up points of conflict with your husband. Be courageous and stick by your convictions, but be sure to carry on your new life in Christ as gently and lovingly as possible.

The changes in you can lead to positive changes in your relationship. It may surprise you both that your husband finds you, as a Christian, to be a better, more loving and supportive wife than you are right now.

Q. My Wife Doesn't Love Me

My wife and I have been married eight years. About a year ago, things got pretty cool between us. I thought it was just a dry spell. Last week she took our six-year-old daughter and went to her mother's. We hadn't even argued. She's very calm. She says she just doesn't love me anymore. I am stunned. I had no idea we were anywhere near the brink of divorce, but that's what she says she wants. I want her and our daughter home, with me. What can I do?

A.What seems sudden to you may be the result of a long list of past grievances between you that were never worked out. Your wife may feel that she has already tried in the past to get your attention to focus on these problems or hurts and that now she's given up. Well, she's got your attention now.

No doubt it is frightening that she seems so calm, so emotionally detached. Considering that she's had lots of time to think over the divorce option and stew over these past grievances, it may be that she's determined to go ahead and start a new life without you. But it's also possible that this initial separation holds a window of opportunity in which you can prove to her that she really has got your attention now.

You might begin by writing her a long love letter. Express your emotions, your feelings of sadness and loss and longing for her. Plead for an opportunity to work through these problems with her to start again.

Then, during this time of separation, be prepared to submit to marriage counseling with an attitude of humility and repentance for the hurts of the past. Be ready to work through the problems one by one. Work with the counselor toward a goal of starting again to rebuild a courtship and relationship and work toward reconciliation.

Meanwhile, keep praying that God will soften her heart toward you and that God will soften your heart to prepare you to deal with the problems that led to this point.

Jay Kesler is chancellor of Taylor University. He was formerly a pastor and also served as president of Youth for Christ and of Taylor University. He and his wife, Janie, live in Upland, Indiana.

We are not able to respond personally to readers' letters. But if you have a marriage question you'd like us to address in this column, send your question to:
Marriage Partnership
465 Gundersen Drive
Carol Stream, Illinois 60188

Or e-mail your questions to: mp@marriagepartnership.com

How Is Your Heart at Home?

Every couple creates a unique home, and we'd love to hear about yours.

How you have shaped your living space into a special place for just the two of you? Think about how you and your spouse choose and arrange items, decorate, or design areas for particular purposes. How do these elements assist you in living more fully and consistently as a Christian couple? And as you think about your inviting abode, which aspects touch your heart—and others'—the most?

We'll pay $50 for each usable story. Send your story, along with your name, address, daytime phone number and a nonreturnable snapshot of your home to:
Heart at Home
Marriage Partnership
465 Gundersen Drive
Carol Stream, IL 60188

e-mail: mp@marriagepartnership.com

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Chores; Faith; Love; Marriage
Today's Christian Woman, Fall, 2000
Posted September 30, 2008

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