Written By Michael Pearl at No Greater Joy
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Pearl,
First of all, praise God for Created to Be His Help Meet! A woman at my church recommended this book to me. I started reading it and it has changed my life and my marriage! I told a few other women about it and they are reading as well, and their marriages are much better. Thank You. Thank God.
Recently, I have gone back to work full-time and my husband is at home with the kids and homeschooling them. My question is how can I still be a help meet in this situation? My husband is having health issues and thought it best for us to switch. He loves to cook and has been cooking. What are your thoughts on this situation?
Michael Pearl Answers:
Dear Reader, understand that I use your question as a springboard to address this issue in a broader way. Some of the things I say may not fit your situation at all. I am not attributing attitudes or actions to either you or your husband. Use my comments to gather principles that might apply to your situation.
It is never ideal for the woman to be the breadwinner and the man to be the home-keeper for the simple reason that the role reversal (a role dictated by our created natures) places each in a position contrary to their nature. A single woman may fit into the workplace as well as a man. A single man with children may function as the housekeeper, cook, homeschool teacher, etc., and do a fair job of it—all consistent with human nature. But the marriage relationship is unique. The man by nature is the savior, provider, and protector who braves the cruel world and carries the responsibility to protect and nourish his wife and family. It is in a man’s genes to take the command-and-control position. To become a dependent rather than the provider wreaks havoc on a man’s self-esteem. In our modern world, the one whose name is on the paycheck is the head of all finances, the one to be thanked and appreciated. That person is the fountain of the family, possessing the right of veto over all spending, and controlling the direction of the family where it involves finances.
The one who comes home tired from a day’s work is entitled to the recliner until dinner is served. It is the one who says, “Why aren’t my socks in the drawer?” and “This house is a mess; what have you been doing all day?” The breadwinner decides what kind of bread to eat and whether or not spending is foolish or necessary.
A bread-winning woman is not vulnerable and finds it difficult to come home and be a submissive, servant wife. To be forced to do so breeds resentment and a feeling of being used. I need not go on; you know these things and more to be true to nature and experience.
But sometimes life throws unnatural curves and turns our world upside-down. We have to make do like a one-legged man. We get around and get along in the best way we can. When a man is disabled and cannot enter the labor force, the wife may be thrown into an unnatural role of breadwinner. Sometimes the children are forced to work to provide for the family. It is not natural but it is necessary. A dependent man will have to accept a different worldview and a different role. He will have to accept not being fulfilled in the normal manner. And the bread-winning wife will need to learn humility and to try to maintain a feminine demeanor at home, giving deference to the man, allowing him to be a handicapped king in his limited domain. The dependent man will also need to learn humility and to accept his dependency with thanksgiving and grace. Like any unnatural handicap, it will not be easy, but it is entirely manageable, and each can find fulfilment in their role reversals.
However, when a couple reverses roles because the wife is able to make more money, or when the man is lazy and incompetent, or when she just likes to work and he just likes to hang out at home, you can be certain that neither is going to find fulfilment in their relationship, and their marriage is likely to end in the woman divorcing the man.
When both the man and woman are reconciled to the reality that the man is handicapped out of the work force through no choice of his own, and not having to do with incompetence, it takes the edge off of blame and the discomfort of role reversal; but when they both know it is a choice, expect the man to shrink in his self-respect and the woman to grow masculine in her demeanor—leaving the marriage to suffer.
God said to Adam, not Eve, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Genesis 3:19).
Paul declared, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4–5).
When Husbands and Wives Roles are Reversed