This post is not going to be a deep spiritual exegesis on preparing to be the Proverbs 31 woman. God already wrote that and put it in the Bible for us to memorize and meditate on.
I just want to give you a snap shot of my 22nd century, practical, mundane picture of what it looks like to be a wife and mother at home. The nitty gritty of wifedom is not glamorous – it’s messy, sweaty, and exhausting! But it’s also joyful, hilarious, and precious.
As I reflect back on the 8 years of marriage God has give me, I think of a couple key things I could have worked harder on as a single woman that would make life now much easier, joyful and fruitful. Here are 5 practical things you can work on from my daily life. Watch out, it may not be what you are expecting!
1. Humbly take orders. How do you respond when someone in authority tells you to do something you don’t want do or think is a horrible idea? Do you grin and bear it, complaining on the inside (having an internal monologue about how this is wrong, ridiculous and will turn out very bad)-often my response or graciously follow directions with contentment and dignity, trusting God’s control over the situation and surrendering the outcome to Him?
2. Conflict management. Do you know how to communicate well with others and people of differing personalities? This means being able to listen and understand as well as convey your own thoughts, preferences, feelings in an appropriate, timely, godly way. Under submission, this is the second most important skill that makes you a capable and successful wife. Differences will always come up; the challenge is skillfully handling the issues without being driven by emotions: hurt, anger, jealousy, fear, etc. People tend to either clam up, sweep over the issue, or blow up. Do you have the character and skills to be focused on others when you’ve been wronged, hurt, or offended? When you have transgressed another, can you respond humbly and graciously instead of being devastated or excessively anxious (my personal struggle)?
3. Graciousness with the idiosyncrasies of others. This means deferring to someone else’s preference. Another example is learning to accept differences and faithfully, lovingly serve another in mundane tasks like washing another’s dishes or putting their shoes away for them continually without complaining. No matter who you marry, there are going to be rubs…somewhere. Every marriage has them. The question is: how will you handle it? Be prepared those little “buggers” may be permanent. He may never remember to put_____ in ____ for the rest of his life. Can you graciously do it for him everyday for the rest of your life without getting bitter? Humility remembers I may have just as many and probably more “buggers” about me that he graciously ignores.
4. Know how to cook. This is probably one of the biggest challenges new wives face: having to put three meals on the table every single day – for the rest of her life! The average wife spends 22 hours of her week on food preparation and cooking. It’s easy to cook a meal for a friend once a week, but invite that friend over every night for a week and see how it goes. As a single woman, I completely underestimated how much of a role cooking played as a wife. Preparing food is one of the biggest blessings you give to your family. You are being used by God to sustain life in a real practical way – everyday. Making a delicious meal brings the family together and is a big part of what makes home special. The more recipes you are familiar with as a single, the easier this role will be when on the other side of “I do” – trust me on this!! I wish I had spent a lot more time in the kitchen.
5. Know how to clean-quickly and efficiently. With three young kids at home, I spend 75% of my day cooking, feeding, cleaning, de-cluttering, and laundering. Quite frankly, I don’t get to cleaning the house (dusting, wiping down bathrooms, etc.) as much as I should. I can’t remember the last time I dusted. Cleaning at this point is tidying up. Four people at home all day makes quite a mess, so picking up after each activity is part of the rhythm of the day. For those of you who hardly sweep the kitchen, beware, after toddler meals you will be cleaning the floor 3 times a day. Before kids it would take me about 15 to 20 minutes to clean a bathroom. Today I can speed clean it in 5-7 minutes, maybe 30 seconds if I have people driving to my house.
As a newly married women, these are probably be the first bumps you will encounter. Usually, most women continue to work those first several years of matrimony before having kids. That means working, coming home, putting dinner on the table, and managing the cleaning and laundry for two. Dating doesn’t usually involve much of the latter; it’s usually in the context of meals or coffee out, recreational time, not within the context of the everyday tasks of life. These points may sound mundane, but the pitter patter of little feet, the squeals of excitement for a favorite meal, (or a Popsicle) and the sound of “You’re the best Mom in the whole world, I just know it!” is simply divine.
Katie at Feed My Love writes about “Managing the Mundane” at home.