Posted By Jennie Chancey on March 23, 2010
[Note: This article was voted a Reader Favorite on the “old” LAF, so we’ve moved it over to the new LAF! ~ Ed.]
A LAF reader shared a link to a story about Michelle Obama quitting her high-paying job to support her husband’s run for the presidency and to serve as stay-at-home First Lady. While we’re definitely not fans of the Obama administration and its liberal, socialist policies, this article shines the spotlight on something very important: the notion that a wife is invaluable to her husband’s success and that an intelligent, savvy helpmate really does play an irreplaceable role in the family. Here’s a sampling from the original piece:
It’s not what Germaine Greer and her ilk had in mind for this generation of highly educated, successful, independent women. But it’s a lifestyle choice at the heart of a new theory expounded in Megan Basham’s book, Beside Every Successful Man. The title is not just a trite twist on the familiar concept behind every successful man; it has much greater meaning than that. Basham argues that by using all your talents, skills, education and qualifications, you can make your husband’s career a stellar success, and your family life spectacularly happy. We’re talking an equal professional partnership, where the woman gets the best of both worlds — enjoying using her honed professional skills to enhance her husband’s career, but at the same time having the freedom and pleasure of spending more time with her children.
I realise Basham’s theory feels like taking a cheese grater to the most precious principles of feminism — independence, autonomy, equality, self-development, career. But let’s face it, whose life-work balance would you rather have: Michelle Obama, constantly extolling the joys of being in a strong partnership with a man doing something important, even as she enjoys her children; or Cherie Booth QC, the hard-done-by career woman famously complaining about the hardships of juggling family and career? Basham, an American author, dyed-in-the-wool feminist and successful career woman earning significantly more than her husband, explains it this way. ‘What my friends had in common is that they left school planning to spend most of their adult years working in their chosen fields, and expecting always to derive a lot of satisfaction from their careers.
‘Several years ago, I started to notice that among many of us, as other areas of our lives expanded, the enjoyment we derived from our jobs began to shrink. Work began to seem more like an intrusion on our real lives than a vital part of it.’ She and her successful career girlfriends wanted to spend more time enjoying being mothers and wives. But there was a financial imperative as they were all fully paid-up members of the two-income economy.
‘We realised we had to start looking at our dilemma from a new angle, and to start seeing our marriages as our own little business enterprises and our husbands as partners in that enterprise.’ As so often happens, Basham says a book changed her life — in her case, David McCullough’s biography of America’s second President, John Adams. ‘While everyone else was caught up by the relationship between Adams and Jefferson and Washington, I was fascinated by the relationship between Adams and his wife. He relied on her in almost every aspect of his work — and in the midst of the goal-setting and strategic planning they wrote each other intimate, teasing and tender love letters that revealed the sweet partnership they had in all things.’
This feminist author is experiencing an eye-opening revelation — but it’s one that most of us stay-at-home wives and mothers have known and lived for years. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times: a homemaker is not a drudge, a housekeeping automaton, a doll, or arm candy. A wife of vision understands that what she does impacts her family now and in the long term. None of the epiphany experienced by Basham comes as a surprise to women who embrace Proverbs 31 and live it to the fullest. A husband and wife dedicated to a single vision are far more effective and powerful than a divided household where each half pursues its own interests and goals. This is why a wife who submits to her husband’s vision and leadership is anything but a doormat–she is a powerhouse for serious, long-term success.
As wives, homemakers, and mothers, we get the most fulfilling, well-rounded “career” imaginable. We wear many hats, all of which have been laid out in Scripture for thousands of years. To us, they’re second-nature. So it’s a little amusing to see a “dyed-in-the-wool” feminist “discovering” truths that most of us have just practiced quietly for years–all while being ridiculed, put down, sneered at, or mocked as “baby machines,” mindless drones, slaves, and all manner of other ridiculous invectives.
All I have to say is, “Welcome to our world, Mrs. Basham.” Here at LAF, we’ve been proclaiming for years the beauties and benefits of supporting our husbands, educating the next generation, running hospitable households, caring for the needy, and, yes, even running successful home businesses that involve our children and allow us to use our God-given talents in an amazing variety of ways.
Abigail Adams has long been a model for homemakers. No matter how the feminists tried to twist her into a closet women’s libber, we knew the truth. We’ve read the letters she and her husband wrote each other. We’ve seen Abigail as a Proverbs 31 heroine for years. She understood that God created man to need woman–and for far more than simple physical companionship. We are truly the other half of the whole, and when both halves work together, the results are astounding. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says it best: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”
When women work for their own husbands and make their own families successful, they enjoy all the benefits and none of the heartaches of the nonsensical work-family “balance.” Being a part of a family is work. And it’s hard work. But it’s rewarding because it is done for and with our own kith and kin. We aren’t selling our labor to strangers or working thankless hours to please a man we don’t love. Choosing to make our husbands successful means we enjoy the rewards of work and family at the same time–no balancing act required other than the ordinary everyday decisions about priorities and goals that are a normal part of life.
The article continues:
Basham says this working partnership also means abandoning a few precious feminist precepts. ‘Some aspects of feminism encouraged women to treat their husbands as rivals and their homes as battlegrounds where couples questioned whether they were both doing the same proportion of the dishes and the earning. ‘So yes, it does mean biting the bullet and taking care of the household chores that stop him from earning. It doesn’t mean you have to do them yourself (by all means hire help), but your role is to free his time so he’s spending more time making money.’And while much of this argument may feel like an excuse for women to stay at home, she argues it is far from it. It extols and explains the fiscal and personal rewards to be gained if a woman should choose to give up her career and place her professional skills alongside those of her husband. It becomes like a two-man business, a partnership. He may get the public acknowledgement, but she gets the benefits of a significantly improved family income because he’s better at his job — plus, if she seeks it, the joy of spending more time at home being a wife and mother. In Basham’s conclusion, she returns to John Adams’s wife Abigail, whom she takes as her strongest role model.
‘Her strength, confidence, intelligence and eloquence were nearly as significant to her husband’s success as his own were. Adams so clearly valued his wife’s insight, and cherished her companionship, that there could be no question of her being anyone’s lackey.’ They eventually grew to become ‘almost one soul in two bodies’. [Emphasis mine.]
Finally! A feminist comes around to see that a marriage is a genuine partnership–a mingling of souls and not just a joining of bodies. The wife at home is a real, significant help to her husband. She can be CFO, COO, nutritionist, master chef, teacher, gardener, photographer, artist, musician–you name it. The scope is as wide and deep as the talents and abilities God has given her, because there is an outlet for every single skill she can put to use. And what can be better than working for a man who not only appreciates your work but can love you for it? It really is an incredible life, and we’re glad at least some feminists are finally seeing the light.
Her husband also , and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
~ Proverbs 31:28-31