Lazy Husbands, Hungry Kids, and Hopeful Wives

Lazy Husbands, Hungry Kids, and Hopeful Wives

Written By Michael Pearl

Dear Pearls,

Is it normal for wives of Visionary men to face homelessness? My husband has not worked at all for 2 years. Our car died and there is no money to fix it. Our savings are almost gone. We are very behind on our rent, and my husband has made it clear that he does not want me trying to get any kind of government assistance. Nor does he want me asking him any more work-related questions of any kind. He wants to work from home and will not consider doing any kind of other work to make ends meet. I am really trying to keep my mouth shut but am struggling as of late. We will be facing eviction soon. My parents live very close by and are aware that my husband is either sleeping or on the computer. My mom doesn’t say anything but often offers us food, which is well-received. I make a small amount of money working from home, but it is not enough to keep us afloat.

Should I just quietly allow this to happen to us? I wouldn’t worry about it so much if our children were not so young. They are 4, 2, and 1. My husband is not a Christian, but I love him and think he is a good man, but he is making me crazy! If you have any advice on what I can do, please let me know.

Dear Sister,

Your problem is part of a growing epidemic that can’t be blamed on the economy. God tells us in I Timothy 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

In Micah 4:4, God reminds us, “But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree…”

Clearly God meant for every man to work and provide for his household. So you and God are agreed, but that doesn’t mean your husband is going to jump up and get a job just because you tell him what God has said. So, what is a wife supposed to do? Basically nothing—nothing in word and nothing in deed. Just stay cheerful and loving. Your situation is better than most, for you have parents who, while not pushy, are willing to help. First, thank God for that wonderful mercy.

The Apostle Paul dealt with this issue in the early church. He reminded the Thessalonica church, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10–12). It is certainly not your responsibility to keep him from eating, but neither is it your duty to bail him out of his laziness. Tell your mom how much you appreciate her generous offerings of food, but ask her to give foods that only the little ones will eat. Make the food plain and basic. Slip over once a day with the children but without your husband and eat heartily. When there is no money available, allow your own kitchen cabinets to become bare.

The best thing a woman can do is allow the situation to come to a head as quickly as possible. Don’t be an enabler by seeking further income. As long as he can keep the family together in any dwelling and provide food, continue to cheerfully follow his lead.

But what if a worst case scenario develops and you are evicted and find yourself homeless with no place to go but the streets or a homeless shelter? That puts your children in danger.

There is an example in Scripture that is often overlooked. In 1 Samuel 25 we read of a woman named Abigail who was married to a man who offended David by refusing to feed his hungry men. When Abigail heard what her husband had done, she knew their lives were in danger. So, without her husband’s knowledge, she directed the servants to prepare food for the 600 men and hastily deliver it. David received the food and readily acknowledged that she had saved him from shedding blood. When Abigail’s husband suddenly died of divine/natural causes, David took her to be his wife.

If your husband’s actions put your children in real danger—not just discomfort or inconvenience—you should protect the children by respectfully disobeying your husband. To broaden the subject for our readers, the same would be true if a drunken husband commanded a wife and children to ride in the car while he drove. Respectfully disobey. Likewise, if a husband commands a wife to leave her children in the care of questionable babysitters, follow your maternal instincts.

If your present circumstances deteriorate to the point of homelessness, I suggest that you quietly arrange ahead of time for your parents to invite you and the children, but not your husband, to come and live with them. Let him live in a homeless shelter until he can provide a home for you and the girls. If he insists that you live with him on the streets, tell him your children come first and you will take them to your parents, dreaming of the day when he has a place for the family to be united. Perhaps you could have your parents invite him for dinner and a conjugal visit once a week but not to stay the night. Sometimes a man needs to lose his comfort zone (computer and TV) to appreciate his responsibility to maintain that zone. Most women make the mistake of jumping in and providing, and then they become bitter toward their lazy husbands.

I know I am going to get a lot of flak for this. If you have a better answer, I would like to hear it. We will publish worthy answers that vary from my own. I am glad God made me a husband and not a wife. Every woman deserves to be loved and cherished, and every child deserves to be protected and nurtured. Some husbands deserve to be whipped, but that, dear lady, is God’s job, not yours.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
1 Timothy 5:8

14 thoughts on “Lazy Husbands, Hungry Kids, and Hopeful Wives

  1. Beautifully written. I am blessed with a Godly husband but do know others are not. I will purpose to be praying for the lovely Sister who wrote the question in. My prayer is that the scales will fall from her husbands’ eyes and that he will see the damage his choices are doing to their family. Praising the Lord that her parents are willing to help out. Great advice about letting the cupboards get empty, too…take some of the comfort away and hopefully her husband will wake up…

  2. Oh, my goodness, this is SO TRUE. Every word of it.

    I am married to a man with similar tendencies, and when I see other women out there saying, “How can I make some money because my husband won’t provide for us?”, I want to scream, “NO!” Don’t do it! It is enabling a husband’s vice. If you make provision to enable your husband’s laziness, then he will NEVER GROW UP and start providing like a man. It is only when a wife permits circumstances to deteriorate however badly they need to, WITHOUT STEPPING IN TO HELP, that a man will be blasted with the consequences of his sin and laziness and will start to grow up. Don’t enable sin, ladies. It’s like bailing a criminal out of jail, only to see him continue in his downward lifestyle. I have seen this so many times in my marriage. However bad it is, it only gets worse when you enable it.

    Thank you for posting this, Lori!!

  3. My younger sister is in a similar situation now and I’m so worried for her and her son. They are behind on the rent and he lost his job again she doesn’t know what will happen but she’s hopeful that they will work it out. We’ve offered a place for her and the baby but she’s not willing to leave her husband for any amount of time and my husband refuses to allow another man in our home who he feels can’t be trusted to do the right things. (This will be the second time that they have been evicted without a place to live). The only thing I can do is hope and pray.

  4. I comment as a man. Where are the other men in this family’s life? Why I’d the man not being chastised, corrected, and mentored the proper way? Is he hard hearted and not willing to be corrected? If this was one of my sons or son-in-laws, I would be bringing him into a heart to heart discussion reminding him of his duties as a man and as a husband. If there is no father or f-I-l in his life near enough then the men of the church need to step up.

    In the churches I have gone to we have helped out families in an emergency but if help is continued to be needed then the husband/father needed to step up and do something to take on the major responsibility V or there would be no continued help. If this meant that the man had to take a job sweeping the floor at the local store then so be it. He needs to learn how to show up daily at a job and work diligently for a full 8 hours per day. Once he learns that work ethic then he could work on other aspects.

    This was an issue with an uncle of mine. He had all of the pie in the sky dreams that never came to fruition. It all came to a head and my grandfather stepped in to recuse his daughter (my aunt) and cousins from the street and starvation similar to what Mr. Pearl describes as an ultimate solution. The uncle never corrected his ways and is suffering the consequences with bad health and struggling in his older years. Yes the family helps him now because he is in a condition where he cannot help himself.

  5. This is so well written, thoughtful and Biblically supported. I am blessed with a husband who has a solid work ethic and when he lost his job, he immediately sought out another job even though it was not in his field and paid less money. Eventually things worked out in his career, but I am very, very sympathetic to those wives who have not been so fortunate. I pray for the writer of the letter and also for the ladies on this comment thread who are struggling with this in their marriages. God is faithful and his Word will not come back void. Thank you for posting on this important topic, Lori.

  6. The devil’s goal is to separate what God has joined together, and to join together what God has kept separated (Mk 10:5).

    Wives are to submit to their husbands (Eph 5:22). And to submit with joy (2 Cor 9:7)! Viewing one’s ‘other half’ as ‘the problem’ is not of the Lord (Mat 7:5). Hold accountable every thought (2 Cor 10:5)!

    The exceptions are obvious and have been pointed out by others. If adultery, true threat of physical harm, true emotional sabotage etc. Do not ignore these realities, but do not let a false song hold sway over one’s heart either. Make provisions to be apart for a time if needed (1 Cor 7:11).

    Woe to the modern God-fearing woman! Her friends are not having children (violating Gen 1:28). She watches them climb the career ladder (violating Tit 2:5). She must surely be tempted to live in accordance with the world, undermining her husband’s authority- and provisional limitations- to chase her own concerns (Phil 2:21).

    Double-down in seeking God, pray earnestly (Jer 29:13). Support your husband, he needs it (Gen 2:18). There is opportunity to live by example, your family as witnesses to a God-fearing woman, and a strengthened family as a result (Ecc 4:12).

  7. My spouse claims mental illness is why he cannot work–and since we got married he has been diagnosed Bipolar and is on medication. Yet his claims of being unable to work are untrue. He has done many jobs throughout his lifetime, formed a successful company prior to meeting me, and since his diagnosis, he has continued to be able to do skilled labor as well as use his computer programming skills to help my family. I know that mental illness is a huge barrier to successful employment, and I might be more understanding if I were not aware of his capabilities post-diagnosis. He continued to help out friends and family with labor and computer problems when asked–he just refused to seek employment listing a host of reasons–he was “too tired, the hours would not work, etc.”.

    He recently revealed to me that unless he “values” the job he is unwilling to perform it–he does not feel a moral or spiritual obligation to work and help support me or his child. He told me he will either be self-employed or will work for a friend–a custom-tailored job to suit his needs. As the mother of a young child, I worked in order to provide for our needs. In retrospect, I should not have supported us and I know that now. I finally put my foot down because he refused to work (I begged him to get any kind of work, even part-time, with no restriction on the job), and he moved out. It took so much prayer and faith on my part to demand that he work in order for us to live together. I had never been so scared in my life. I am now living with my parents, who generously allowed my son and I to come back and live at home, and I work full time to support my child and contribute to household expenses. We are still married but he moved out of state and is now living off of a friend of his. I suspect when that generosity ends he will move back in with his mother. He recently asked his mother to cash out part of her retirement to help him out financially. After listening to my pleas she thankfully did not.

    I expect to file for divorce due to his abandonment of me. I am scared to death that I might actually have to pay alimony to him, but staying married to him opens me up for financial harm since he does not believe in paying bills and has accrued various debt over the years. In addition to working full time night shift and going back to school to better my working conditions and work hours, I am also repaying a loan that I had to take out due to various debts he accrued from not working. I would give anything for a Biblical spouse–it is heartbreaking to raise a child who will one day ask why I am no longer with his father. I am fearful I will live the rest of my life alone. I am an attractive, sexual woman who desires to be wanted by a Christian man, and yet I am scared I will never experience this.

    1. Hang in there, Lisa. Do what your Faith tells you is right. If unsure, talk to your priest or pastor.
      Go step by step, do nothing in haste.
      Go to your Church and join in the fellowship in all the ways that you can.
      Don’t fear the future. God will provide.

  8. I normally agree with your articles but I must disagree with this. The context of 1 Tim. is qualification of widows indeed, which is provision in spiritual things, not the material. I don’t believe Abigail disobeyed her husband; she simply acted on authority she already had, so I don’t see anything disobedient or defiant in her conduct. If anything, it was to help her household.

    No man or woman deserves anything except what God says man deserves, Rom. 6:23. Christians should expect hardship in the flesh and suffer, but to be happy and remember what Jesus went through and use His example as a pattern for their behavior. By the spouse departing the house with the children, she violates God’s law for marriage (Matt: 19:3-8; 1 Cor. 7:10-11) and becomes a covenant breaker (Rom. 1:31). The solution is for the woman to remain married regardless of the unfortunate situation she may be in. By voluntarily suffering hardship, she becomes an example for others to emulate (1 Pet. 3:13-14).

  9. One thing I notice about the post and comments is that there is little to no “helpmeet” aspect to the partnership. I see a lot of “don’t enable” “hard love” “he should do better”, but has anyone thought of asking the “lazy husband” how to help them be successful. Telling someone to “get a job” or “provide for his family” is HELPING them be successful. It’s demanding they be successful, by your definitions and under penalty of losing you if he isn’t.
    Going out and “prividing for your kids” isn’t necessarily helping him be successful either. It could be just showing him how successful YOU can be……….and he better take notice and do the same……or risk losing you.
    Successs to him may look different that what you see as success. Help him with his vision of success. Be his helper. Not his enabler, not his competition.

    1. I think that she should support him and help him to be successful. I would think she would want to, and probably does! The problem however is that you can’t live off of visions that don’t accomplish food on the table. God commands man to work and provide for his own. If he’s not able to do this in the way he’d like to, he is obligated to do it another way. It is a need, and a command from God. Not really any room for discussion from what I see.

  10. Tell him to throw together some work clothes and canned goods, and drive to Midland, TX. Anyone with a pulse can get a job here right now. (They won’t be fun, and may make only 60K, but there are plenty of entry-level positions going begging right now.)

  11. I am struggling in a situation like this right now. My husband was the primary breadwinner but I always have worked as well. He quit his job without notice months ago and I have had to work up to 12+hours a day 7 days a week to try to keep everything paid (mortgage, utilities, student loan debts, car payments, his union dues so we can keep insurance, food, children’s tuition and costs, etc.) He is very lazy playing video games and sleeping all day. I cannot properly mother my children because I have to work (thankfully I work from home) and every part of my role in the household is suffering due to this. I do see that I am enabling him but I don’t think I can meet his irresponsibility by being irresponsible and neglecting our financial obligations. I feel so much bitterness in my heart and I hate feeling this way.

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