Practical Skills to Know Before Marriage

Practical Skills to Know Before Marriage

Our culture doesn’t prepare young women for marriage. The churches and the schools don’t. Most mothers aren’t preparing their daughters for marriage and neither are the older women in the churches, so most women go into marriage knowing little about being a wife, mother, and running a home.

I asked the women in the chat room what practical skills they wish they knew before marriage and this is how they answered.

They wish they had learned how to cook healthy meals for their families and knew how to bake. Many wished they were taught how to maintain a cleaning schedule and knew how to organize their homes more efficiently. Some would have loved to know how to sew, can, knit, knew about herbs and natural healing, and gardening. Others wish they had learned how to budget and shop frugally. One wish she knew administrative skills. Others would have loved to know how to stay calm and not be led by their emotions. Most wish they had been taught how to be a submissive wife from the beginning.

Debi Pearl made a list in her recent magazine of things young women should know before marriage. “Mamas have to know a LOT about vaccinations, drugs, chemicals, homebirths, banking and financing, homeschooling, …” Young women should also be wise and not go into marriage with debt so they can be the ones home full time with their children if and when the Lord blesses them with children.

We are to train our children in the way they should go so that when they grow up, they will not depart from it. Mothers, raise your daughters with all of the knowledge they will need to be a wife, mother, and manager of a home. You are doing your daughters a huge favor by doing so. One mother I know trained her daughter to be neat and tidy with her room. That daughter grew up to be neat and tidy in her own home. Anything you train your daughters to do while they are young, you are doing them a huge favor since it will come more naturally for them when they are grown. Also, teach them the joy of being a wife and mother by being joyful yourself. Let the joy of Jesus shine forth from you to your children!

Here is how one woman in the chat room responded to my question.

“My Mom did an excellent job in training us girls how to be homemakers. All four of us girls were making our own dresses before 12 years old. We were taught to garden, how to can (preserve) food from the gardens, how to makes, jams, jellies, bake bread, cook, clean and laundry. The summer I was 14, my Mom was unexpectedly hospitalized for two weeks. I took over on my own, cooking for my Dad, GrandPap, and older brother, also cleaning, laundry, garden and canning on my own. My brother picked the apples from the tree using a ladder for me.

“After Mom was home awhile, she mentioned what a shame the apples had to go to waste. I said, ‘Mom, I canned them! Forty some quarts of applesauce! Plus I baked some apple pies, and several for the freezer!’ Her big smile and ‘Good job, Rachel,’ made it so worthwhile! I continued taking care of the housekeeping, cooking, and the garden, as Mom did very little for six to eight weeks. Our Dad made sure us girls could do basic car maintenance and tire changing before we were allowed to get our drivers license. I had very wise parents.”

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

33 thoughts on “Practical Skills to Know Before Marriage

  1. I must admit that I was self taught in most areas of homemaking. My mom always kept our home clean and tidy while we were in school ; I guess more was caught than taught since I love having a clean tidy home as well. I had a strong desire to learn food preservation, gardening, cooking and baking healthful food, and sewing & crochet. In all of these areas, the Lord provided older women along the way that gave me some advice and tips. I just needed to be humble enough to ask for help and not be afraid of making mistakes during the process. And, since I homeschooled my children, we all learned a lot of things together. It seems like a vast majority of knowledge today can be acquired on the internet. In many instances, I have appreciated this. However, it is sadly replacing the older women from passing down their knowledge to younger women in a one on one type of relational setting. Thanks for posting so faithfully, Lori, I greatly appreciate your blog.

  2. This post is right on time for me; I almost emailed you a week ago to ask for an example of your cleaning schedule. My mom worked and sadly I was never taught these things. I strive to keep a tidy home and am in the process of trying to become more minimalist and de clutter things we are not using. We just seem to have way too much stuff for our small house- especially clothing and toys. I would also love to learn basic sewing skills. I regret that I was not taught these things in my childhood! Thank you for always sharing wisdom and encouragement that we desperately need to hear!

  3. Yes to much of this post, I wish I had been taught. But at the top of my list, is I wish I was taught to open up God’s Word and study it, whether as a family or an individual. Growing up, I think my parents left much of that to the church to do for me. Although they are strong in faith and that had a huge influence on me growing up, I didn’t really crack open my bible to study on my own until I was well into my 20s. I was amazed at all that was in there that was never discussed in church or Sunday school! I wondered what else I was missing, and so began to read more and more, which really shaped my faith and trust in God. Starting earlier perhaps could have helped me through certain mental and emotional developments that I went through as a preteen into early adulthood. I think learning how to turn to His Word on a regular basis is a great (and yes, practical!) skill to have in learning how to be a future good wife, mother, homemaker, or anything! I try to sit down with my children every day and read one chapter directly from the gospel, and another chapter later from the children’s bible regarding old or new testament stories, as they are still rather young. I want to instill in them the habit of reading God’s word and prayer every day, and the knowledge that even though one day I may not be around, God always is, and His Word is always available to them!

  4. My mother ran a clean home, and we children learned how to do housecleaning chores well.

    But we didn’t learn how to run things ourselves. My mom has at least a touch of ADD and would never make a schedule for anything. She’s very hard-working and conscientious, so spontaneity works for her personally. But we never felt ownership of “jurisdictions”, so we never spotted a mess and cleaned it up spontaneously, or learned how to mentally prepare and plan for cleaning. It was always just our mom interrupting us in the middle of whatever we were doing and telling us to go clean a particular thing when she felt the urge. We resented this and avoided her; and she resented not getting the help she wanted from us or our father.

    Happily, this was only a small part of our overall positive relationship, but it left me with some negative associations around housekeeping.

    As a wife, I started for the first time to take ownership of those responsibilities as my own, and found I really enjoyed taking care of my own house! Yet I also realized I didn’t have the spontaneous discipline to always be noticing and working that my mother did. I needed some time management help.

    The books I found most helpful were:

    Managers of Their Homes, by Steven and Teri Maxwell, as a method of organizing one’s day that I find legible and follow loosely;

    How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind, by Dana K. White, which is an excellent remedial lifeline for those of us who are not naturally tidy and who need help understanding, for example, why it’s worth it to do the dishes every day and how to motivate yourself to do them; and

    Home Management by Kim Brenneman, which has a little of both at an advanced level that I find inspiring.

    I’m proud to say that after seven years of marriage and one child so far, I’ve made steady progress with baby steps the whole way even as my responsibilities have increased. I’m still less organized than the average person, but I’d be far worse off if I hadn’t kept learning and improving. And the best part is it’s still fun!

    My mother has taught me many good things over my life, but I hope that one of the new things I can teach my children is how to find enjoyment in keeping a home.

  5. I am the “little sister,” so my older sister was really my mother’s #1 helper. As such, I never got as much hands-on training in cooking. It has been an obstacle to overcome. I need to be sure every daughter I may have is prepared.

  6. December is such a busy month! I did not have a chance to send an email, but I did really intend to. Any insight on how to maintain a proper home would be greatly appreciated!

  7. Add me to the list of daughters with working mothers. My mom learned how to do everything from my grandma and I was taught very little. Most of what I know was self taught. My mom had so much going on that she was lost half the time. Papers from schools went missing, I missed field trips, etc. Our house was complete chaos. I hated it.

    Teaching a daughter how to cook, sew, etc. before marriage is such an incredible gift. Rich or poor, they are skills that will make life so much easier.

  8. Such an encouraging post, Lori!

    We are so blessed to live in a time where many practical skills can be taught using instructional YouTube videos which include most, if not all, of the skills that were mentioned.

    I’ve not seen the importance in sewing when I’ve been told that by the time fabric and patterns are purchased, it’s not much of a savings. However, I could see the ability to save significantly in household textiles-curtains, upholstery, and slipcovers, especially with good quality, second hand furniture or simply stretching the use of a purchased item. We stretched our living room furniture with slipcovers (purchased) to over 20 years after a professional upholstery cleaner told me he got it as clean as he could get it, lol!

    Crocheting and knitting seem to be more for enthusiasts, as again, we’re blessed with the ability to purchase quality items at a reasonable cost. Projects make wonderful gifts, though-I’ve always appreciated the craftsmanship when blessed to be the recipient.

    I wouldn’t discourage these skills while instructing my daughters, but focus on the priorities of cooking (menu prep., couponing/circular savings, shopping, meal prep., cleanup), cleaning,
    laundry, home organization, budgeting/thrifting, then on to gardening/preserving and research into natural living. Completing tasks (with varying levels of success and consistency) and learning new homemaking skills, including the most important-prayer and Bible study, keep me busy and never bored as a SAHM!

    Any homemaking ideas would be greatly appreciated, Lori. Whenever I watch one of your videos, it’s obvious that you work hard to provide a lovely home for you and Ken. Thanks for a great discussion.

  9. I would add, sometimes women complain about having messy husbands. If you train your son to be neat and tidy and to clean up small personal messes quickly and include him in the list of house chores, then he will grow up to be neat, tidy, and able to help his wife if she is ever infirm or perhaps has just given birth etc.

    You cannot change the man you married, and if you married a messy man, you can always influence the next generation (that is what is so special about mothers!).

  10. Where would be a good place to start if you wasn’t taught a lot of things as a housewife and mom and you are in mid 40’s with 5 kids ages 20 mo. to 16? Maybe having some skills but not like you should?

  11. To women AND men. Young men need to know how to cook for themselves while they don’t have anyone else doing it. Too many single young men are given the free pass to not learn how to cook simple meals for themselves and eat very unhealthily while single and away from home. Eating out at restaurants is expensive and unhealthy.

  12. Good point. Knowing how to cook isn’t a skill for only women. All adults should know how to cook. My husband is a great cook and our daughter is really getting into cooking. We spend lots of Sunday afternoons preparing meals we freeze to eat at a later date or my husband takes to work. We really bond as a family when we cook together.

  13. Check out your local extension office for homemaking and gardening assistance. You can attend classes in canning, Serve-Safe, sewing, and gardening, weaving, budgeting, and nutrition. It’s a great resource for bartering skill sets as well.
    I would also add that young men and women need to know how to balance a checkbook, how to recognize a scam investment, and where the health, disability and life insurance policies are, and how they work. (Or, at least know they need to work toward getting these things.) So they know the starting point of what to do in the event of the incapacitation or death of a spouse. Also, everyone, especially parents, should know CPR.

  14. I am not religious in the slightest and am also a working mother of 2.

    I was taught all these things both by my own mother, and then they were built upon/ reinforced in school. Home economics taught cookery, budgeting, scheduling and needlecraft (dressmaking, embroidery, tapestry, darning). I made all my own maternity clothes and always repair over buying new- I have just taken down my son’s uniform trousers as he has had a growth spurt, and my daughter likes to help me make clothes for her dolls!

    These tasks aren’t solely the domain of stay at home mums, and they are far from “dead”

  15. I would say menu planning (shopping to cooking) and dressmaking are the two skills I wish I have taken more time to learn before marriage.

  16. For the same basic practical reasons every man needs to know how to buy groceries to make himself a sandwich, do laundry, and sew on a button, every woman needs to know how to jump-start a car, change a tire, and handle a firearm.

    Just keepin’ it real here.

  17. I was raised by my dad because my mother left me and my 4 siblings as teens. I am 36 years old and have been with my husband for 17 1/2 years now (married 9 years). As I mature, I am learning/ have been learning how to be a good wife/mother through research ( blogs, podcasts, etc.). I would like to have been taught how to be joyfully submissive and how to properly handle emotions.

  18. I’ve read so many homemaking books over the years and the one I found the most helpful is-

    It has practical tips for moms (and homeschool moms), great info on how children learn, and how to do a great job being a mother and homemaker. I first heard about this book in the comment section of Lori’s blog a few years ago, and would highly recommend it. Wonderful encouragement to be a godly homemaker!

  19. That’s great! My husband knows his way around a kitchen, too. He worked on the grill at a local restaurant through college. I’m a recipe follower, but he intuitively knows what to put together to create delicious dishes and I’ve enjoyed Mother’s Day meals for years. It’s been fun watching my children cook like he does-the results are creative and tasty meals! 🙂

  20. You took the words right off of my fingertips.

    The fact is, most men nowadays master food preparation at a very early age. LONG gone (as in “for at least the last two generations”) are the days when cooking and kitchen were considered solely a woman’s domain. Even by the time Second Wave Feminism rolled around, men in general had already long figured out that they would starve to death if the relied on a “liberated” woman to cook for them. In fact, given “modern” women’s general aversion to and disdain for the kitchen, many of us men would really prefer that they stayed out of it. And of course many men today were latchkey kids raised either by single/divorced or working mothers who could not or would not cook, so necessity forced them to learn to shift for themselves.

    While other household tasks traditionally considered “women’s work” may not have been embraced by men with the same level of enthusiasm or honed to the same level of perfection as cooking, most men (single or married) are at least competent in them out of sheer necessity. Very few are foolish and naive enough to expect that any given woman today has either the interest in or ability to perform such chores – even for herself, let alone any man.

  21. This is fantastic and I think it’s by far the most important thing we can pass to our children! Our family recently started doing morning and evening “family worship“ with our 3 young children (6, 3, 18 months)! This happens when we gather during breakfast and dinner time. First we read Scripture from their children’s Bible and it has a question to go along with it. Then we all pray starting with the youngest. Our 18 month old just folds his hands and says Amen. We end with praise and singing. One song the kiddos choose and then we finish up with the Doxology and a Hallelujah. My husband leads this time in the evening and I lead in the mornings when he is at work. He leaves the home before 4am. This morning and evening routine of family worship has greatly blessed and bonded our family.

  22. my mom was a good housekeeper, she could also cook, sew, etc. but she did not want to teach us. she wanted us to always look pretty and spent much money doing so. she wanted us to have jobs and not marry till later in life. I went into marriage with very little knowledge, but between my sweet husband and the internet, I have learned how to be a good homemaker/mom/wife. mom was angry when sis and I married young. she was able to sabotage my sisters marriage and cause a divorce. I distanced to protect my marriage/kids. now sis is alone, and mentally worn out due to trying to live mom’s feminist dream life. so very sad. keep on teaching, Lori.

  23. As usual, your advice is practical and true. I agree with a poster above who wrote that she would appreciate advice on being joyfully submissive. I’ve come along way in being a more soft-spoken and reverent wife, but I always want to improve in this area. My husband works so hard and is so dear that he deserves a less critical wife! Thanks for the encouragement and happy new year.

  24. I think you should start building housekeeping skills by deciding what would be most useful to your husband. How can you be a better helpmeet to him? Would having his laundry done make getting ready for work easier? Would coming home to a clean and tidy house relieve his stress? Would a hot dinner ready to go on the table when he comes in the door make him feel loved? Start by finding which housekeeping skill would bless him most and work on that. Every husband is different, focus your attention on serving him and what would please him and make his life easier. Housekeeping isn’t hard but it does take diligence and practice. You can do this!

  25. This is a wonderful idea. I had not thought of it that way. And of course I struggle with my relationship with my husband and it is my fault. I know that. This would be great to show him love and reverence. Thank you so much for sharing this. I needed it!!! And I am not diligent nor practice things as I should. I have failed miserably. But only I can change that uh? I need to also be a better example to my children and helping them in skills to prepare them. Thanks again for the encouragement!!

  26. I would be more interested in seeing articles on this page that actually detail some of the practical skills of homemaking. Since not all women learn them at home, it might be nice to include recipes, general car maintenance, house maintenance, DIY projects, etc. I think that would help to empower women on this page to take more responsibility around the home and truly help their husbands. Maybe something weekly?

  27. I have all of my favorite recipes on my old blog “Always Learning.” I don’t do general car maintenance. I’m not into DIY projects but there are many other blogs and videos of women who are. Clean Mama on Instagram is a great one to follow in keeping one’s house clean and organized.

  28. Hi

    Young women and men alike need to learn survival skills and home skills, neither one are being taught these days. my mom stayed home, but we were so poor we ate a lot of gross hot dogs and mac and cheese. Im slowly learning the crockpot i got for Christmas. my husband no longer lets me do all the outside yard work i did before having the baby. my body does hurt a lot less.

    my husband actually encouraged me to take online classes to go with my previous degree so I can work from home to supplement his income. he said its such a waste to waste a smart brain, we have to charge too much food and utility to credit cards with just his income it is very sad the prices.

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