“I DIDN’T want my wife to work,” a husband admitted. “But when ‘ends aren’t meeting,’ you have to compromise. So she started working, and that’s made things a little easier.”
It is a family decision as to why the wife should work or not. The following tips can guide you to make a firm decision.
REASONS WHETHER MY WIFE SHOULD WORK OR NOT?
1. Count the cost : Throughout the world couples are saying that it is difficult to live on one income. In Australia, France, and Sweden the cost of food and housing virtually doubled between 1975 and 1982. In the United States the cost of feeding a family of four rose from about $67 a week in 1975 to over $100 in 1983! The cost of owning and operating an automobile in African countries has tripled.
On and on the dreary statistics go till date. And when salaries do not keep up with inflation (as is often the case), couples may feel that they have but one alternative: Have the wife get a job.
For one thing, women are generally paid much less than men are. True, some struggling couples welcome whatever the wife can earn.
So subtract from a woman’s wage income taxes, child-care costs, food-budget increases (two-income couples rarely have time to bargain-shop and often eat either restaurant or convenience foods), transportation, clothing, and miscellaneous expenses—and there often isn’t that much left from the wife’s salary.
Families are finding out that a wife’s salary also costs in other ways. And some wonder if it is worth it.
In the United States, the average woman earns 59 percent of the average man’s salary. In Japan, women make up 34 percent of the work force, yet a woman earns roughly 50 percent of what a man earns.
While many a wife can juggle a job and home duties, her doing so nevertheless “entails trade-offs and costs.” .
2. Cooking at home: Many women frankly find great satisfaction in providing their families a clean home and tasty meals. And rightly so, for the holy book commends the “capable wife” who is diligently “watching over the goings-on of her household.”
As one woman said, ‘When I make something that is nice for supper or take some extra time to do something for my family, and my 15-year-old says, “Mom, you really outdid yourself,” that is so much better, that is worth so much more, than a raise from any job or any profession that anybody could give me. That feeling is terrific.’ So both wife and family may feel a sense of loss if she has to go to work.
3. Marital dues: Marital strain might be another work expense. Wives often resent having to bear an unfair share of the housework. Husbands may likewise resent being asked to help. Some even complain, as did one husband: “I feel left out a lot of the time. She comes home tired and upset. She’s always busy with the children. We don’t share enough together. I appreciate that she had to do what she’s doing, but that doesn’t make me feel any happier about it.” Work fatigue can even hinder a couple’s enjoyment of marital intimacies.
4. Caring for the children: Not all working couples, though, have a grandmother or a friend who can care for their children. Adequate day-care services are often hard to find—and costly. Newsweek magazine therefore reported “an explosion in the number of children who spend at least part of every weekday without any adult supervision.”
No wonder, then, that in a recent survey of over 200,000 Americans (57 percent of whom were dual-income families), 69 percent felt that a wife’s working had “a detrimental effect on family” life.
5. Needs Versus Wants
Of course, a wife’s working doesn’t always have dire consequences. Many couples do admirably in caring for their jobs, home, and children. Still, a couple may be uneasy about the wife’s working, feeling it is causing problems for the family. If such is the case, please COUNT THE COST!
In short, this means taking a hard look at one’s financial situation and then weighing the pros and cons of the wife’s working. Does it really take two incomes to cover the basic needs—modest housing, nutritious food, adequate clothing, and so forth? Or does a second income simply allow more wants—frills such as lavish housing, restaurant meals, entertainment, or stylish clothing?
Many couples simply do not know the difference between needs and wants.
Working for elusive wants is therefore like walking a treadmill. Wise King Solomon said: “I have noticed something else in life that is useless. Here is a man who lives alone. He has no son, no brother, yet he is always working, never satisfied with the wealth he has. For whom is he working so hard and denying himself any pleasure? This is useless, too—and a miserable way to live.” How much income, then, should a family strive to earn? The advice is, “be content with what you have- sustenance and covering.”
“Sustenance and covering” means neither all the latest conveniences nor abject poverty. So we need not conclude that the man who can afford a nice home or television is necessarily a rank materialist. A problem does arise, though, when couples strive to own such things at the expense of marital satisfaction, their spirituality, or the spirituality of their children. When extra cash is this costly, a couple should start to ask themselves if it is really worth it.
6. Part-time Work: Of course, not all wives can just up and quit their jobs. And some even say they’d feel bored or “unfulfilled” if they had to be home all day. Said one working wife: “I need more in my life than making beds and cooking.”
Such ones, therefore, might consider part-time work. It has been observed that part-time work not only provides extra income but also “enables women to arrange their various responsibilities more easily . . . with less time pressure and tension in the process and advantages for taking care of children. Some imaginative women are even starting successful business enterprises that allow them to earn money at home.
Make the Best of Your Situation!
Each family, though, must decide what will work best for it.
Today’s economic realities may leave many couples little choice but to have two incomes. Yet the challenges working couples face are not at all insurmountable. Consider the advantages and disadvantages.