Online Book Club: Who Wears the Pants and Who Irons Them?

“Trying to blend two personalities in a marriage is hard enough, but when you both work – and especially when the wife earns more than her husband – you’ve got a potential disaster on your hands.”

In Work, Love, Pray, Diane Paddison hits the nail on the head.  Dual career families are complex, and when the rubber hits the road, dividing up household responsibilities can be tricky – especially when both spouses work outside the home.  Should the wife take full responsibility for household duties, just because “she’s a woman?”  Is her husband less suited to contribute inside the home, even if she earns more than he does?  Is a “woman’s work” primarily inside the home?

You can probably guess where I come out on these issues!  As a wife, working mom and lawyer, I rely heavily on my husband to “hold down the fort” when I’m running to court or hopping on an airplane.  No, it’s not easy, and Diane fully recognizes the complexity of modern working families – a dynamic inadequately addressed in many Christian communities.

Rather than starting a debate or getting defensive, Diane steps back and takes a reality check.  The fact of the matter is that women are working outside the home in growing numbers, and most college educated men (some 71% – as compared to 37% in 1970) are married to college educated women.  We are living and working in a different world than our mothers and grandmothers.  Which means we have some issues to tackle:

Work, Love, Pray doesn’t present easy answers to these questions.  More importantly, it starts a dialogue.  A dialogue that doesn’t draw lines in the sand or throw stones.  A dialogue that gives practical examples and insight.  A dialogue that encourages us play to our strengths and approach marriage as a team – with joint stewardship as the goal, not gender stereotypes.

How do you serve your spouse while dividing up household responsibilities?  Should gender play any role?  Whether you’re married or single, how can the Christian community can better address modern families?