Can a Wife Disobey Her Husband if He Asks Her to Get a Job?

Can a Wife Disobey Her Husband if He Asks Her to Get a Job?

Should wives disobey their husbands if their husbands ask them to leave their homes, their children in the care of others, and get a job? This is a difficult question to answer. I do believe this would be a sin on the husband’s part since he is the one called to be the provider unless he is unable to do so for some reason. Women are instructed to be keepers at home so they don’t blaspheme the Word of God so the Lord takes women being keepers at home very seriously.

Lady Lydia wrote a post about this a few years ago and doesn’t believe a wife must submit to her husband’s request to be a provider: “The scriptures do not give husbands authority to turn their wives into co-providers. When a man asks a woman to ‘help-out’ financially, there are a number of ways to do this without leaving her post at home and working elsewhere. These include preventing the income from going out as fast as it comes in by reducing expenses. Many women can stay home, but do not want to do without visits to the nail salon, hairdresser, restaurants, daily coffee’s at drive-ins, several vehicles,  extensive travel expenses, shopping at high-end clothing stores, and entertainment. These things can all be substituted in other ways that will not involve the wife going to work, which can perhaps be explained in a future post.”

There is nowhere in the Bible that instructs women to make money. Yes, the Proverbs 31 woman made a little bit of money but she was never told she had to do this; for she was known for “looking well to the ways of her household.” Any mother who is asked to leave her home and her children in the care of others will most likely not make that much money from the expenses it will take her to work, the work she won’t be doing in her home, the taxes taken out of her pay, the fewer meals from scratch she will be able to make, and a whole bunch of other ways that frugal wives can make ends meet by living simply and carefully within their husband’s income.

In my heart, I want to tell women that they don’t have to submit to their husband’s request to find a job but I’m just not sure this is the right thing to do since in 1 Peter 3:1-6 women who are married to men who are disobedient to the Word are told to live in subjection to their husbands without the Word and with a meek and quiet spirit. I know of women who didn’t go to church because their husbands didn’t want them to so the wives stayed home and ministered (served) their husbands instead. I know that some of these men have come to believe in Jesus Christ because of this.

Wives must remember that their husband’s eternal souls are the most important thing, yet I know that their children’s eternal souls are as well. A husband certainly couldn’t force his wife to go to work each day but I believe the best thing for a wife in this position to do would be to make her home such a sanctuary of peace and rest for her husband along with delicious homemade meals that if and when she must go to work, he will immediately notice the loss to his home life without her there full time. This is living in subjection to them and winning them without the word by her gentle and sweet behavior which seems more in line with God’s Word to me.

This is why the only times I encourage women to disobey their husband is if they ask them to do something evil, unlawful, or harmful. In all of the time I have been mentoring women, there’s only been one time that a woman asked me if she should obey her husband and I said, “NO!” Even then, I’m not sure I was right because what he asked didn’t fall into those three categories but I do know that some husbands ask (rarely demand) that their wives do something that falls into these categories.

I may be wrong and Lady Lydia may be right but each woman who is in this situation will have to prayerfully consider her actions and seek the Lord in prayer along with wisdom from older, godly women. Granted, Lady Lydia wrote a post on CAN a husband ask his wife to work and her answer was “NO.” She didn’t write about what to do IF a husband asks his wife to work (except for this line in her post, “Her response should be to fully carry out the duties of home keeping and to do it well, giving him a good example of a Christian woman’s duties to the home and family”) but women have come to me because their husbands do want them to work and asking what to do. We can’t control what husbands do nor control what they ask their wives to do. All we can do is encourage them to seek biblical counsel and do what the Lord would have them do in this case, not what they want to do.

 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

29 thoughts on “Can a Wife Disobey Her Husband if He Asks Her to Get a Job?

  1. I stay at home at the moment but I’m planning to find a small part time job once my child is in school (unless we will have another child).

    I notice that much of the advice about staying st home revolves around cutting luxuries such has the nail salon. It’s true for many people but not so for others.

    I don’t do any of those things, they are way too expensive.

    However there are also unavoidable expenses. Rent (or mortgage) are based on two incomes, making it difficult for those on one. There are tax allowances that we miss because only one of us work. Same with preschool subsidy.
    Then there is more: we have food intolerances in our family so it means that we can’t shop only based on price, but we need to carefully read labels and choose accordingly. Food intolerances aside, we are also mindful about what we eat (no junk food in our house, we read all the labels) and what personal care products we use, so again we can’t shop based on price only.

    There are medical costs not covered by insurance, because we choose to treat the root cause of our illnesses and not just the symptoms. This means a lot of out of pocket expenses on top of the compulsory health insurance premium.

    How can we blame women for wanting to work (I’m not talking about a career, but simply a part time job)? I have never experienced poverty but I think it’s difficult to constantly watch out for every cent you spend, especially if nothing in your upbringing has prepared you for this.

    1. Your situation is a lot like mine but I do not work outside the home. We try to do more wholistic medicine and buy organic. We also have food allergies in my home as well. The question about whether you should work if your husband asks, is one thing, but it is another when you write “how can we blame women for wanting to work?”. I don’t blame them, I understand but I must say that God does provide! I have noticed through the years when we really cut back and make radical changes for the sake of prioritizing our lives according to God’s plan, He really makes up the difference.

      You don’t have to worry about preschool expenses when you homeschool. The rent/mortgage becomes a lot more doable when you rent an apartment in a not so great part of town or a trailer. We’ve had to do this and for many it is just a season.

      What is not accounted for in figuring up how much you think working outside the home will help is God’s part. I cannot tell you all the ways God has provided since we took this step of faith! It truly is faith because if we look at it the way most of the word does, they would say, “why aren’t you making an income too?” But God has given my husband so many extra and unexpected opportunities to make money. We have even had unexpected and unasked for gifts of large sums of money. God really still does miracles today but we won’t benefit from them if we don’t live by faith.

      1. I don’t work at the moment. I did for a while before having my child.
        Well, I don’t live in the US, so my situation is different.
        Renting is expensive everywhere, we live in a relatively cheap city (the capital is mind blowing expensive) but it’s still expensive. Ironically a mortgage would be much cheaper but you need an indefinite work contract to get one.
        Homeschooling is technically legal, but there are some requirements which mean that we can’t do it. We don’t have family around and we don’t have many friends either, so my child needs preschool.
        My husband is not really a Christian and he has not received any Christian upbringing so it’s difficult to tell him to trust God.
        I simply believe that we should have a law about real estate: rents and mortgages should be calculated on one income only, so house prices will drop and benefit everyone because the economy is more healthy if people don’t spend a big chunk of their money on a single thing (like mortgage or health care ) but instead they increase consumption.

      2. I have heard this happening over and over again, M, in couple’s lives who stepped out in faith and obeyed what the Lord has asked them to do but few are willing to do this unless they can see it with their own mind. His ways are higher than our ways and we can trust Him!

    2. Mrs. G, I so feel for you because in many ways I’m in the same boat…

      I too never go to the nail salon (only had a manicure once in my life 🙂 and we try to live as healthy as we can as far as food, personal care products, etc. And yes, it all adds up and leaves you scratching your head. My husband also needs chiropractic care, and we have a whole troop of kids to feed. 🙂

      Anyway, I guess my point is, to not give up on trying to spend less, but to keep an eye out for what is stealing the cheque so to speak. For me, that’s been personal care, impulse buying, and gas. So now, I try (still working on this!) to only buy what’s on my shopping list when I go in to a store, and do shopping online to save gas (one shopping trip can cost me $10-15 on gas – lots of places will ship for cheaper than that). For personal care, I try to replace the good brands with a cheaper (but still healthy) alternative. So instead of buying a lotion bottle for $40 (seriously, it’s out there) I use cold-pressed olive oil or coconut oil. And instead of buying an expensive handsoap, I use a foaming soap bottle with diluted castile soap. Just those little things that add up. Not that I’m walking around with my calculator every day (that’s not my strength, and it would drive me crazy) but just trying to do HEALTHY as cheaply as possible. Then the budget can give a little bit when it comes to things that we have a harder time giving up, like a better brand of diapers for my babies (not doing cloth at the moment), a “real” shampoo, and a bit of makeup (no idea how to make that myself, not really into mining iron oxides). 🙂

      Anyway, I’m going on and on. I guess my point is, if it really came down to choosing between living a healthier lifestyle physically or living a healthier lifestyle spiritually (being home for my family), I’d have to choose the latter and trust God for the first.

      So hang in there, do your best and leave God with the rest. 🙂

      Blessings!

      1. I get what you mean. I can probably improve something but the big expenses will always be there, so penny pincing won’t make much difference (although it’s surely important). I stopped using the bus and I bike instead (in this country fuel is very expensive) and even many two income families can’t afford two cars (high taxes on cars and parking is expensive and difficult to find), but my bike needs repairs, my husband has no time to help and I need to go to the mechanic and it costs money. I shop in different places, to get food on special offer. I make some personal care products as well and I buy online to find better prices. I make my own soap.

        I only read books out of copyright, since even second hand books are expensive (plus there are no sex scenes) . I have used cloth diapers on my child. As a hobby, I sew so I can make things for the house and homemade presents (I’m unable to sew clothes) buying the materials as cheaply as possible.

        For me living a healthier lifestyle is important because I truly need my physical health to function and support my husband job (he has an autoimmune disease) and because I have fertility issues so I am basically doing it with the hope of getting a second child (we struggled for years to get our son). I believe that God won’t do what I can do myself, so I try to take responsibility. It’s not always easy.

    3. It’s tragic how culture seems to be going towards punishing one income families but this is when we must step out in faith and trust the Lord to be our provider as we live carefully within one income. Have you ever read Laine’s Letters, Mrs. G? They are very inspiring along with The Tightwad Gazette. Both women’s husbands didn’t make much money but had many children and were home full time!

      http://lorialexander.blogspot.com/2014/04/50-ways-we-paid-off-her-house-with-one.html

  2. My belief and understanding is that a wife should submit to her husband (or a daughter) to her father. The only exception being if she is being asked to commit a sin (for example to use contraception).

    Whilst it is a mans duty to provide and a woman’s to prioritise home and children I think it only becomes a sin for her to work outside the home if by doing so she will neglect her first responsibility.

    1. I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with you about the contraception thing. Whether or not it’s a sin is debatable, but that’s not my point. It is more that if we are expecting our husband’s to provide fully, and we are going to be at home with our children, if our husband knows in his heart that he simply CANNOT financially support any more children, or if he knows that his wife is stretched to the max with caring for so many children by herself, and he decides that the family has enough children and there are to be no more, I think it would be a sin to disobey his request to use contraception. Yes, children are a blessing, but to expect our man to work 90+ hours a week so we can disobey him and keep having babies, I don’t think that’s very Godly at all. I think we need to obey our husbands in the matter of contraception. Or at least accept his decision, once we’ve told him how we feel.

  3. Hi Lori, I can give you my story. Before my son was born, I had decided I needed to go back to work once he was born because I didn’t want all that financial responsibility to fall on my husband. Once our son was born however, it was a different story. I had decided to take off four months, and on the day before I was to return to work, my husband sat down with the bills (I always took care of the bills) and tried to figure out a way for me to stay home. We couldn’t make it work.

    So I went back to work and then decided what if I could at least find something part time. I did and that was better, well if it would have stayed part time it would have been better. Anyway, long story short I wound up working full time again. I knew in my heart I should be home, but my husband didn’t think we could make it. On my way to work, I would tell God to let me go home, but it didn’t happen.

    One morning, I was particularly upset and finally I just said “Ok God, if I can’t go home, please make me content with going to work” That night, I got home from work and my husband asked me if we could make it if I quit my job and kept some relative’s kids. That was many years ago and I have been home ever since.

    I will periodically do some part time work and maybe clean a house or two. Sometimes, I still wonder if we would be better off if I worked, but my husband told me about a conversation with a co-worker and he was complaining that his wife was always tired and didn’t cook ect… My husband told him you realize you are trading a good wife for her job right? That lets me know that I am where I am supposed to be. I love my job of being a housewife and I always want to make him proud he has allowed me to do this!

    1. What a blessing, HH! There’s nothing that can replace a wife and mother at home. It’s great that your husband was able to realize how important this was while your children were still young.

  4. I am my husbands help meet.

    When he asked for help after losing his job, I gladly obeyed. Of course I will help him. That’s what I was made to do! God will protect the home and children if you are obeying your husband. Very prayerfully I took a job and the Lord has blessed in many ways. 1 Peter is my go to book ❤️

  5. Since I was 5, my real dream was to be a wife and mom. You will smile at it, but I did have my imaginary family, a name for my husband and a name for my baby doll. During my nap, I would “breast feed” my doll 😁. It seems funny and almost crazy, but really, it was the only thing I wanted in life ! Being a wife and mom ! I had a baby brother, so every thing my mom was doing with my brother, I would do it myself with my doll. I played with my dolls until I was 12, when I figured that my school friends would laugh at me.

    After high school, my Dad wanted me to got a diploma, so I studied, became a nurse and found a nice job in Pediatrics !

    At 21, I married my wonderful husband, and at 22 I stopped to work and had my first baby boy 😁! So I had my dreamed life after all !

    But my husband was making less money than I did when I was working, so he wanted me to get back to work. I kindly explained to him that I didn’t want anybody else to raise our son and that it was my responsibility to be home with him.

    He didn’t know how it could be possible for us to live with his income, so with sadness and a weigh on my shoulders I did get back to work.

    Our son was almost 1 year old and a fine lady at church would would take care of him.

    When I was working, I felt sadness, knowing that my place wasn’t with those babies at the hospital, but with MY baby.

    When I was at home, I felt stressed, having to do the same housework than I was doing before, but with less time and more fatigue. I lost weigh. I was often crying and asking God to do something about that.

    One night, my husband was sleeping in our bed, and I was crying in the living room. My husband came and told me that it was enough, that wasn’t the life he wanted for us as a couple and as a family… He didn’t want me to be as stressed and sad that I was. He wanted our home to be peaceful.

    So I did quit my job, we did trust God with our one income, I did 20$ grocery each week, until the time God gave my husband another job with a bigger income, enough to live without so much financial difficulties.

    Was it difficult for me to do what my husband wanted me to do by going back to work ?
    Definitively yes !

    But I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of fighting my husband about that issue.

    Did God protect me during those times ? Yes!

    Did we learn big things during those difficulties ? Yes !

    Did I regret the fact that I listened my husband and got back to work ? No, I think that I did the right thing in our situation, knowing the circumstances we were in.

    So do I think that a wife can disobey her husband if he asks her to get a job ? I don’t think so, and don’t see anything in the Bible that approves that a wife could disobey her husband about getting a job, but I’m profoundly convicted that God’s will for a wife and mom is to be home with her children and that if the husband wants the opposite, God is the One able to change husband’s mind ! God is great and mighty and we can trust Him with our life ! 😁

    1. Thank you for sharing! What a beautiful testimony! I was exactly as you were and all I wanted was to be a wife and mother from the time I was little. I, too, believe you did the right thing by obeying your husband and thankfully, he became convicted about you coming home. A wife’s submission to her husband is the way she is called to win him, not by fighting what he asks her to do.

    2. Can I please ask how on earth you managed to survive on just $20 groceries every week? Was this a long time ago when groceries were really cheap? Did you have a huge vegetable garden or something you supplemented your food with? I just can’t get my head around that tiny amount for food. Where I live, we spend more than $20 just on bread and milk every week! (Family of 6 here, we go through a loaf of bread every day and a 3 litre bottle of milk every 2 days)
      I know there are people out there who can work absolute miracles with money so if you are one of those people, please share your tricks with me!

      1. Hi KAK !
        I understand your question, today I wonder how we did it !
        It was in 2000-2001, we did that for about 6 months. I didn’t have a garden and I wasn’t really prepared for that situation, but my husband and I had growing up in very poor families, so very tight budget wasn’t something new for us.
        I had a 30$ budget per week for the diapers and milk for my son, and 20$ per week for food for 2 adults and a one year old baby.
        I remember only buying cheap bread, cheap sliced cheese, spaghetti pastas and tomatoes, and oranges. That was all. Cheese sandwiches and tomato spaghetti was our menu. Oranges as snack and desert. That was all, it wasn’t very imaginative, but it was the cheapest I knew at the moment !
        We had something to eat, my husband never said anything about that, and when he got another job, he told me to eat double portions and chocolate to try to gain the weigh I had loss when I was working ! I was very thin at that time, and he wanted me to gain weigh before having another baby 😉!

  6. I agree with M. It most certainly is a step of faith. The Word tells us the just shall live by faith!🙂 I do not believe a Christian husband should ask this of his wife, when God has commanded her to be a keeper at home. We must obey God rather than man when it is in opposition to what God has already said. We ARE helpmeets to our husbands by working diligently at home to meet their needs. This is my understanding of this issue. I do not want to heap guilt on those who see this differently, however. Thanks for posting, Lori.

    1. No, a husband shouldn’t ask his wife to work but sadly, it’s becoming more and more common as the almighty dollar becomes more important than the welfare of their children. It does all come down to a lack of trust in most cases but wives are called to live in subjection to those husbands who are disobedient to the word in hopes that their husbands repent and begin to obey the Lord.

  7. Like you, I lean towards the wife being subject unto her husband in everything as the Bible says, unless it is harmful or unlawful. I believe God praising Sarah for her obedience is an example to us to reverence husbands even under hard circumstances that were not the best choices. This is a way God can actually use wives to change a husband- cheerful and prayerful submission.

  8. I work part-time, at my husband’s request, and we actually could not survive without my wages. We’re barely surviving as it is; we have no luxuries, only the very basics. We live in a small rural town where housing is more affordable than pretty much everywhere else in the country. We have cut back everything we possibly can, and still can’t make ends meet without my help.

    I am to be my husbands helpmeet – and this is the way he wants me to help him: by working, and helping him support our family financially. I see no sin at all in my obeying my husband and working part-time, and still taking care of our home and children.

    1. KAK
      For what it’s worth, I think you’re doing the right thing.
      I can’t think of one single verse in the Bible that prohibits women from going out and working to help support their family, so why should we call it a sin?
      God sees the heart. He knows why we’re doing what we’re doing. He knows if He needs to work on our trust and He’ll do so, in His timing. I started working an odd-hours job (up at 4 am) to help supplement the very low income we had and to help pay off our debts. I’m back home in time to get my kids up and send them off to school. Then I do some housework, rest a little and get on with my other duties.
      Being up before the world gets up doing a fairly mechanical job means I have nearly two hours of talking with God every morning. As I ride my bicycle around the neighborhood delivering newspapers, I tell God about my kids, my husband, my fears, etc… I’ve prayed for the people on the front page of the newspaper and I’ve prayed for people who have posted prayer requests on places where I read.
      Bottom line, I asked God to provide for our needs and He provided a job that I can do while my husband and children get their last couple of hours of sleep.

  9. This is a hard one, Lori, and I appreciate your humility in your willingness to admit a lack of absolute knowledge. I’m honestly not sure what I would do in that situation. I am absolutely 100% sure that it is wrong for a husband to demand that his wife work outside the home – but as to obeying, I’m just not sure yes or no.

    I did have a friend to whom this happened. Her husband decided to quit his job, change careers, and move his family across the country to go to school for his new career. To make this happen, he demanded that his wife stop homeschooling, put the children in public school, and get a job. She submitted graciously, despite being devastated, and thankfully the whole thing was short-lived (she is now back at home and homeschooling her children).

    Thanks for tackling this subject.

  10. Thank you for the post. I was a full time keeper of our home while my husband was still alive. When he passed away, I eventually had to work outside the home to support my son because we did not have sufficient passive income for me to stay at home.

    The insurance money was good for one year. We have savings, but we cannot use the principal; otherwise, our savings would be diminished. Our family, friends and church make just enough to support themselves and save a little for a rainy day, but none are rich to finance a widow for a long time. With God’s grace, we are thriving. Blessings!

  11. Lori, your humbleness and honesty in the difficulty of this situation really come through here. I’d say that at most, a wife whose husband demands she work could seek out creative ways to supplement income from home, and then work to save money by keeping a very tight budget, and then go to her husband and make a rational case that what she saves by producing a small income from home and not having to spend money for gas, daycare, a second car, meals out, etc., is more than worth it. I think this would be extra challenging for a woman with a larger income (doctor, lawyer, engineer) to make the same case, but even then, there are creative ways to work remotely, part time, do consulting, etc. I think you are right that cultivating the home as a sanctuary is key.

    Although I usually work from home, the past few weeks have been especially busy and our household has suffered (not cleaning kitchen/bathroom daily, not dusting, not tidying up, not making food from scratch). To try to make up for it, I woke up at 5 to clean the house. Unfortunately, all the noise woke up my husband. He saw that I was just trying to keep a clean home and I couldn’t when I had to go into the office so much. His immediate response was: “Maybe you need to scale back at work if they aren’t going to let you work from home as much. You being out of the house really changes things around here, doesn’t it?” This is a man who didn’t have firm convictions about me being a homemaker when we got married, but now that he knows the difference of me being in the home or out of it, it matters to him.

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