Husbands: A Tip that Could Save Your Marriage

Erik Raymond —  January 9, 2013

With a title like this there is little room for dilly-dallying along the way to the answer. So without much introduction, here is the tip that could save your marriage: Get a part-time job.

There. That’s it. Husbands, if you want to save or strengthen your marriage, get a part-time job.

I should say right off the bat that I am not talking about a literal job that will pull you away from the home for more hours. Instead I’m arguing for the husband to approach his time at home with his family with the same thoughtful intentionality and engagement that he would if he were to go to work.

Far too many marriages are suffering because the husband comes home mentally, physically and emotionally zapped from his work day. He has done well as the provider for the home and now he is going to come home and collapse into a lazy-boy (aptly named) or in front of a computer or some other process of decompression and relaxation from a tough day at work. This type of thing may be ok occasionally but if practiced regularly it will lead to major problems.

Years ago after starting a new job I came home mentally and emotionally drained several days in a row. Laying on the floor “resting” became my default posture. One day my wife walked over and said, “Hey, we don’t want your left-overs. Don’t give everyone else your best only to serve us left-overs.”

This hit me like a ton of bricks. My wife and family were grateful that I was providing, but they were not content with a mere provider. They wanted a dad and a husband. In other words, there is more to the job of being a husband than just making money. He needs to be thoughtfully, intentionally, and continually engaged in the home.

This is why the illustration of having a second job in the evenings works so well. As husbands we must come home with at least, if not more engagement than we would have at work. Husbands come home to lovingly lead their families. They need to be serving their wives by listening, learning, nourishing, and shepherding them. We can’t do that when we are “recovering” from work or checking out for some much needed “me” time. The job description for a husband entails thoughtful intentionality. We have got to be in the game and doing our job.

It would not be a stretch to say that over 90% of the marital counseling I have done as a pastor involves the husband sleeping at his post in one way or another. He hangs his hat on being the provider while neglecting his role as shepherd-leader of the home. Fixing this will not solve everything but it will drastically improve a lot of things.

So husbands, let me challenge you to come home from work like you are going to work at a job you love in a place you love. Come alongside your wife to talk, listen, and learn her. Play with the kids. Do some chores. Make some jokes. Read the Bible. Pray together. Play a game. Make some dessert. Fix something that broke. Flirt with your wife. Sit and talk. Whatever you do, do it heartily and intentionally like a guy who is there, engaged with his family not escaping from his family.

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond

43 responses to Husbands: A Tip that Could Save Your Marriage

  1. Thanks for sharing this with us! You’re so right! Thank God for his grace!

    • wow some real emasculating advice. where should he get the energy??cocaine???

    • heres what we can do..we can start a church collect money, have our bills paid by parishioners,and give out advice to topics we have no clue about!All while working part time.

  2. Guilty as charged. I’m thankful for a patient wife. I’ll be working on this starting now. Thanks.

  3. What if the husband is coming home genuinely burned out and exhausted by his work day?

    Our work lives seem to be the great untouched area of our lives, especially untouched by the Christian faith. I don’t think the Church in the West has any concept of what our work lives are doing to us, and the Church certainly has no answers for this—at least none that are being offered.

    Fact is, in more and more household, it is BOTH the husband and wife who are coming home exhausted. Commutes are longer, employers are asking for longer hours and demanding workers do the jobs of two or even three workers, and people are just frazzled. Yet quitting such demanding jobs for something less demanding is not an option in a down economy where one false career move can put a worker in a permanent downward spiral.

    I don’t think that “career” pastors who have not been out there in the corporate world understand this well, as the solutions they provide are often out of touch with reality.

    What is the solution? I genuinely don’t know. But leaders in the Western Church need to be talking about this actively because no part of the typical person’s life consumes more of his/her time than his/her job. And the Church is doing a terrible job of its own addressing that issue.

    • Thanks for this DLE. I agree completely. When is the church going to engage in the conversation of whether the “American Dream” we are all chasing is even Biblical? I don’t know either what to do about it, but this commuter lifestyle we are stuck in (except the career pastors usually) is killing us!

      • The idea of whether the American Dream is biblical has been addressed by many pastors today. Two books that immediately come to mind are “Radical” by David Platt and “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper. Perhaps, if we have a job that drains us to the point we are no longer able to engage and lead the family God has blessed us with, we need to find another job even if it means we have to adjust our lifestyle. Jesus is infinitely more valuable and worthy than the American Dream. “For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” – Jesus

        • Chris, “Change your job” is hardly good general advice in a poor economy. Platt and Piper both have great books, but they don’t address the nitty gritty practical issues that face men in the secular workplace.

          Timothy’s suggestion of Tim Keller’s book “Every Good Endeavor” is perhaps better, but I haven’t read it yet. I like Keller and this may be a great book. Oddly, Comment Magazine’s plug reads that the book draws “on decades of study and ministry”. If Keller is drawing on his study and ministry for the book, I don’t think Keller can speak from experience. The closest the description of the book says is that Keller has counseled people in their work experiences.

          So how do we reach Christian men who are practiced in compartmentalizing their lives and wouldn’t pick up a book or even know to ask the question? Instead of holding up a paradigm for men to follow on their own, we need a Body of Christ paradigm that promotes long-term one-on-one discipleship so that godly men who are engaged in the secular workplace can teach other men in the secular workplace how to be godly. But that probably doesn’t occur to most pastors.

          • In fact, Keller did just that in his own church with the Center for Faith and Work, which connects individuals in various fields of “secular” work (in the very secular New York City, nonetheless) for the purpose of mutual encouragement and growth. If you didn’t check the homepage when you followed the link http://www.faithandwork.org/ is their main page. He also brought along the director of that Center, Katherine Alsdorf, who was recruited from secular work, to co-author the book and to pen a chapter at the end of the book giving greater applicability to the ideas he put forth in the book.

          • Jim,
            I agree with you whole heartedly. My husband found himself in the same place as many men today. Working to provide for their families and being too exhausted to give anymore at home. He attends a Mens’ prayer group at church every Monday night. This is where, as they say, “iron sharpens iron”. Men who pray together, asking the Lord for guidance and direction in their everyday lives. My husband has shared with me that going to this prayer meeting helps him to get his mind off his concerns and pray for other men who are hurting or seeking something more for their families. I will tell you that my husband is a better man for it. You may have to be the man that starts a prayer group at your church or in your neighborhood. As for reading books, there is only one book that you need to read and that’s the Bible. If you are in the Charlotte, NC area or ever visit, Join these Men of Iron at Calvary Chapel Huntersville, 12340 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road, Huntersville, NC 28078. http://www.calvaryhuntersville.org.

    • Have you read, “Every Good Endeavor” by Timothy Keller? Have you looked into their ministry on relating Christ’s Kingdom with our jobs?

      Check it out: http://timothykeller.com/books/every_good_endeavor/
      http://www.faithandwork.org/resources

      I do agree that there are a lot of naive statements made, but that doesn’t mean that it ought not be worked through. I do appreciate Chris’ statement. The American Dream is not ultimate. Glorifying and enjoying God is. We’ve also been given many responsibilities. But, if job eclipses our responsibility of making disciples (especially the ones in our homes), we’re failing.

    • Forgive me, DLE, but I think a little historical perspective is due here. Do you honestly believe that we work harder, or have more demands on our life than other men in the past? If anything, the opposite is true – prosperity has brought unprecedented leisure time, even within a commuter culture. And, as Erik alludes to, it’s a leisure-focused attitude that’s more at the root of the problem; i.e., we go to work, we come home to rest. Throughout most of civilization, for most people, there has been very little distinction between work and the rest of life. Take a look at the excellent wife of Proverbs 31 and tell me she had less demands than what is required in a 40-hour work week.

      Bible teaching churches in the West, or anywhere else, are in fact offering solutions: the Word of God! I know that it’s natural for all of us to frame things within the perspective of our own times and culture, but I think we’d all be well served to consider how well we really have it and how little justification we have to blame the demands of work and such. I mean, most people throughout history needed to work exhausting hours just to survive, and never achieved a level of health and comfort enjoyed by people today who have never worked a day in their lives!

      I think you should also consider that many “career pastors” work more hours than most of the people whom they shepherd. And, in fact, more than a few have burned themselves out, and/or find themselves with little time for family life.

      It seems to me that Erik’s words have a lot of merit. Sure, we might be exhausted, but that’s his point. When we’re exhausted at work, if we are committed, we press on and do what is required. The same must be true at home.

    • DLE, with respect, I doubt that most “corporate” employees have ANY idea of the enormous mental, emotional, and spiritual demands that are a regular and unremitting part of being a “career pastor.” Chances are they are just as exhausted, if not more so, than you are.

      • Thank you so much for this comment. I almost choked when I read the comment on “career pastors” not being in touch with the real corporate world. My husband is a pastor. He regularly works 80 hours between study and prayer, counseling, teaching, visiting, helping families in emergencies, plowing the church parking lot, helping someone move a piano…… Well, you get the picture. I regularly hear comments about how lucky I am that my husband works “right next door.” I wish the average lay person could switch places with him for one day. That would clear things up really fast….

        • Exactly! People have no idea how tough it is to be a Pastor. My husband has worked 80 hour work weeks and it burned out our whole household. I’m glad for Mikes response.

    • I ask these questions. I’m self employed and have been telling my wife “things will get better” for about 6 years now.

      I will say that I think the amount of time we put in on a consistent basis might have something to do with what kind of lifestyle we try to sustain. Is it worth it?

      I don’t think we’ll ever look back and thank God for all the material blessing we have and have sustained at the cost of time with our wives and kids.

    • Brother,a million thank you’s for your response,you are totally right,my body is devastated from work on a daily basis,overtime is mandatory,and we are still poor,and there absolutely nothing I can do about it,God is Sovereign,He has given us this trial,He is good always and one day this will all make sense for His glory.

    • As one who is both in the corporate world (lawyer) and is a a bi-vocational minister, I say in complete love, that you have subscribed to the unfortunate stereotype that career pastors don’t actually understand the whole concept of working hard – wrong. Go give your pastor a pat on the back. He has to put up with garbage like this which actually demonstrates that you don’t understand what he goes through.

      And quite frankly, it is completely possible to downsize to a smaller career. To argue this on the basis of our “poor” economy is quite a slap in the face to the billions of hard workers in the past and today outside of our economies. Our “poor” economy is still the best in the history of the world.

      In love,

      John

    • I wholeheartedly agree! And I wholeheartedly disagree!!! This is a two-way topic these days. The article most definitely applies to the man, in respects to being the biblical head of the household. But the working & coming home exhausted and how the other spouse is treated applies to both the husband AND wife. And I have to agree that this “do-more” resolution is not always helpful. Seems that this would only apply in situations if the hubby or wife comes home and does nothing consistently. Now having said that, it doesn’t take much to show your spouse a little attention or affection. A hug and a kiss when you get home takes less than 20 seconds – more or less. And listening to the answer to a simple question of ‘how was your day?” doesn’t take much effort at all and maybe 15-20 minutes. So there is a happy medium. And while the article makes it sound like its alot to add to an already exhaustive day, ALL of these extras do NOT have to be done on a daily basis either (except perhaps paying a little more attention to your spouse with a hug & kiss). If you add one thing into a day, I think that would be seen by your spouse as a positive change!

    • Robert Sterling January 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      You do have a point. Before I comment I have to say that the article was very well written, I wish I read it 28 yrs. ago too late now.
      Anyways, you do have a point. When both spouses work it is very hard. The only solution that I can come up with, is to together, make time (periods) for children-kids and just as important make time at least 2x per month for spouses time. We Have to watch that we don’t stop “Dating.” Make time to fuel the connection that we had when we — noticed, flirted and made the connection & a desire to commit to a lifelong relationship. Sooner than you realize, kids grow up and if we don’t do this right guys, spouses will leave with the children. She/He is the One, lets keep and let them know that they are still. Till death (or Rapture).

  4. I do my part-time work during the day at what would be considered my full-time job. My real full-time job is my family. But it’s more than a full-time job. I can lose my job and have to look for another. I can start a business of my own, sell it, and do something else. My family is different. I must be more committed to them than any paying job I can take.

    But there is often something that most pastors miss. Men gain a sense of self-worth from their work. If they don’t achieve the same level of self-worth at home or church, they will be less involved. Men must learn in the course of their Christian discipleship that even if they don’t feel valuable (or valued) at home or church, God intends them to work toward being valuable there whether anyone else recognizes it or not. It’s what we signed up for when we said “I do” to our wives or submitted ourselves to Christ, whether we knew it at the time or not. And the value isn’t really what comes from other people, but in that we have made Christ valuable in everything we do. Real men gain worth from glorifying God, not from being important to people because of their life’s work. That said, God designed men to be motivated by their achievements and any who would seek to guide a man must understand that encouragement to do the right thing must be accompanied with some respect for having done it.

  5. I found the subtle rise in blood pressuer as I read a couple of comments excepting “career pastors” from the same problems facing folks in other career paths. Echoing a comment by Mike re: “career pastors” – if I remember my statistics correctly, pastors rank in stress levels up with surgeons and most other high stress vocations. Burnout for pastors (worth their salt) is epidemic. Studying, preaching, praying for the flock, counseling, discipling, encouraging, overseeing, conflict resolution, hospital visitation, troubleshooting, planning, conference speaking, continuing education, being a visionary and a host of other things in the job description of the so called “career pastor” are no mean tasks. Then he comes home and has to pastor his family with same due diligence or he is disqualified from the ministry. While we are all trying to figure out how to better serve in our homes after we come home from work, let’s not forget to pray for our pastors! And please, don’t segregate them out of the working world as though they float around all day on some cushy cloud known as a “career pastor.”

  6. I just submitted my application with my wife from work by email. Hopefully there are openings! :(

  7. This is a very convicting, yet encouraging write-up. By God’s grace we can be as intentional in the shepherding and serving of our wives, as Christ is with His Bride!

  8. I live in this modern world, with our modern need to commute, and the pressures of a modern workplace. But I don’t see that as a legitimate reason to give less at home than at work. The fact of the matter is that Christ called us to die to ourselves. When? Sometimes? Only if we have enough energy or little enough stress? I don’t buy it. Dying to myself is a pretty all-encompassing thing, and I find myself wanting to opt out of it when I’ve had a long day at work. It’s only through the power of his Spirit that I’m able to serve my family – but I’m able because he’s good like that. It’s only when I start blaming societal pressures for my sinful reticence to follow Jesus that I’m not able to serve my family.

  9. Lots of good discussion here which illustrates the variety of personalities and needs abundant in our homes. The principle point of the article is: As a husband and father, the best work I ever do needs to be evidenced in my home by more than just a paycheck. I hope to make an exceptional difference in the lives of people on my paying job, but the place where I will have the most lasting and valuable impact is in my home.

    Here is one practical habit to develop. It is not easy to shift between the “man at work” to the “man at home” attitudes. Husbands and wives, allow each other a 30 minute breathing time before launching into the expected family life mode. Some can make a shift during commute time, but for others the commute may add tension to an already high-output day. My in-laws discovered this after years of snippy irksome first conversations that would happen as soon as they walked in the door. I witnessed their love and affection growing after they made this simple adjustment which particularly allowed my father-in-law to shift from his role as a high level department manager to his role as husband and father.

    And if you can stand one more illustration, when driving a standard shift car, speed-shifting can be fun, even exhilarating, but can also cause a lot of damage to your transmission. The purpose of the clutch is to allow for a smooth transition between gears. Give each other a chance to change gears from work to home. Just remember, especially husbands, that once you’ve shifted gears, you still have to re-engage the clutch and move forward. Idling the night away is a waste of gas!

  10. I read this and realized I needed to tell my hubs what a great husband and dad he is because he already does this. Props to him and all you men who have stepped up to lead your families despite the difficulties and lies in our culture. May God continue to bless the church with more men of strength and vision. Thanks.

  11. I agree with much of what you said in your above post. Although, we can become so accustomed to looking forward to finishing our shift after a long hard day at work and having the mentality that home is where we go to get away from work and tune out from everything… the truth is the relationship at home with your wife and children are what’s most important. The quality time you choose to spend with them.

    The memories that you build as a family. The examples you set for your kids as a father. And, the moments you create and initiate with your wife. Are far more important in my eyes.

    Yeah it can be challenging at times, but that’s what having a family and running a household is all about – commitment.

  12. “My wife and family were grateful that I was providing, but they were not content with a mere provider. They wanted a dad and a husband. In other words, there is more to the job of being a husband than just making money. He needs to be thoughtfully, intentionally, and continually engaged in the home.”

    Your wife is selfish and unreasonable, unless: A. She is truly and honestly willing to live on less, (and I say sincerely, good for her if she is) or B. She is holding down at least a part time job herself.

    We live in a generation where far to much is made of men being “continually engaged in the home” and too little is made of the responsibility to make sure the house is there so the family can have a home in the first place . I imagine that is because we have so long enjoyed a prosperous culture where few have truly experienced want that we take necessities for granted. Yes I certainly agree a husband and father has a role beyond provider, though I’m not sure I see it in quite the same way as our contemporary culture tends to. Heather doesn’t need two mommies, even if one is a daddy.

    By all means, give yourself a break and take the part time job. If your wife is good with it that’s a win/win. If she complains about the shortfall in income, what the neighbors have that she doesn’t, if she decides the kids are suffering for lack of what she considers essentials, then I guess it was a failed experiment. Just remind her of an old saying that involves cake and limited choices.

    • John M., if you are viewing marriage as an “experiment” (you referred to a type of marriage as a “failed experiment” in your comment), then you are very sadly mistaken on what the basic concept of marriage is all about. Its a commitment, not an (temporary) experiment . Its a choice, not an (test) experiment. Its a decision, not an (what if) experiment. In fact, the concept of marriage is the exact opposite of an experiment. Yours is the most typical secular view of marriage – let’s live together first and give this whole marriage thing a try – that causes marriages to fail, and fail so easily.

      • You’re way off Christy. The experiment would be a literal part time job outside the home, so he can make all the other things his wife wants him to be/do a full time job, if she places so much emphasis on those things. The description I read was “mentally and emotionally drained ” – making a living for the family, I take it. Of course many husbands have back-breaking, and sometimes dangerous, jobs that wear them down physically, never mind mentally and emotionally. A part time job would leave him with plenty of energy for whatever it is she wants, but maybe not so much money to pay the bills. Trade offs. Try it and see how you like it.

  13. Excellent, fantastic, amazing & all those other words of highest praise! This is a huge problem that I see in our church and community – and it applies to the women as well. Yes, jobs are important but once we choose a mate and have a family, we now have a second job and I believe that it is more important than the first. Thank you for calling fathers and husbands to a higher standard.

    • I agree with Tiffany. Spending an hour or two a day with your family does not make for a happy home. I just had this discussion with my husband regarding me working full time. I am willing to live on less and not put my children in daycare, work an odd shift for this short time while they are young rather than only see them for a couple of hours in the evening and on weekends. I feel that is a commitment I made to my children when I decided to have them. That being said, my husband also works in ministry and comes home exhausted from working long hours 7 days a week and I do feel that we get the leftovers at this point in time. As it is still new to all of us, I pray that the Lord puts upon his heart that while ministering and doing God’s work with others is important, your family should not fall apart in the process.

  14. I think most the problem we can recover if we follow the bible properly. Church can take a great role to solve this problem.

  15. Since I read it earlier this month, this blogpost has been on my mind a fair bit. I often read the marriage / husbanding posts seeing as I want to honour God, and I want to love my wife sacrificially and lead my family lovingly. I find there is immense value in a lot that I read – and I am aware that this post too, originates from an author who wants us men to “be more Christ-like” in our roles.

    However, when I read this I felt burdened (negatively – not rebuked or challenged or encouraged positively). I wonder whether we are starting to make so much of this husband/father trend in Christian writing, that we are making it Law. So you are not a proper husband/father if you do X, or don’t do Y. The problem is that X and Y are become more and more prescriptive, detailed, and often situation/culture specific.

    What I am trying to say in my ramble is that we need to be wary of writing a rule-book. Men’s situations globally are different, and sacrificial loving may often times be working long hours for a period of time. That is for each couple to sort out, with the aid of Scripture, the church, and God’s loving guidance.

    I hope this makes sense – and value any thoughts.

    • Mundy,
      I agree with what you’re saying here. My father owns his own business and when I was younger he often worked 80 hours a week. However, I do not remember having an absentee father because the time he was with me was always quality. He helped at home as much as he could, but sometimes he was just too tired and if he needed to lay on the couch and watch TV, well, I joined him! Yes, he could’ve taken an easier job but now his company is providing employment for 48 people in a low income area with very little economic opportunity. And while money certainly isn’t everything, I’m not sure I agree with the ‘barely scrape bye so we can have more time together’ mentality as the best way to live for every family. There are many, many jobs that are extremely vital and important in our society, but they are demanding and require lots of hours away from home. Doctors come to mind, and apparently from reading other comments, pastors too. And these jobs are stressful. Those who do them need time to rest and unwind.

      The heart is what matters to God and he understands all the unique situations that each family faces even if the Christian community likes to paint everything with a broad stroke. I always smile when I hear the ‘CEO trying to get ahead’ sermon illustration as an example of worldly ambition because that was my father, but his heart was to use his business for the glory of God.

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