by Richard L. Burguet •
How are we to think of ourselves as men, as husbands and fathers, when economics require many wives to be family breadwinners and dads to stay at home?
If you are old enough to remember the 90s, when labels defining how the family functioned economically became popular, then the following terms are not new. In the age of “political correctness,” families were labeled as: DINKs (dual income, no kids); OINKs (one income, no kids); HENRYs (high earners, not rich yet); SITCOMs (single income, two children, oppressive mortgage); and DAMSLs (divorced, attempting to maintain standard of living).
How should we think of ourselves as men in these days, especially when we may not be the primary income earner and our wives carry the weight of earning more? The days of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo are long gone. Ralph and Alice Kramden of “The Honeymooners” are not the role models of our day. “The Dick Van Dyke Show” portrayal of Rob and Laura Petrie, where the husband goes to work while mom stays at home with the child, is not today’s norm.
We men have traditionally derived our sense of significance from our work and our ability to produce income to provide for our families. Perhaps with this change in the way the family functions we can learn a few important lessons. One is our significance is not found in dollars and things. It can be humbling for the “male ego” to earn less. I recall being newly married, being in graduate school full time, working part time, and expecting our first child. My wife was earning far more at her full-time job than I did. We both agreed this was not going to be the pattern forever in our marriage, but it was a temporary means to an end. When a man and a woman are married, and one works outside the home and is the chief income producer, the other has to support the family and home. That means if you are not the breadwinner, you can’t just be a couch potato. There needs to be mutual effort. Personally, when we were in that season of life, I asked myself, “Does how I spend my day glorify God and honor my wife?” If I could honestly answer that question positively, then I was doing the right thing.
When I read the creation account in the book of Genesis, I see God created Adam and Eve to have dominion over all creation. They were created to tend the Garden of Eden. Even after the fall into sin, they tended the ground outside of the garden. Part of what changed was their location and work became toil. Their toil would now grow weeds and fruit. The ground was cursed, and it would be sweaty work and hard to produce fruit. As I read Genesis 3:1-24 I saw no indication one was appointed to “family matters” and another to “income production.” Eve was created to be Adam’s helper. They were to work side by side. I know Adam was to be the leader of the family, but Adam’s gardening prowess is not what made him the leader. I don’t believe the amount of income I might produce actually makes me the leader of my home.
To state simply, the most important thing you can be is not being the breadwinner. It is more important we men are the kind of “fierce gentlemen” who lead our wives and children in seeking the glory of God, whatever our role may be. Breadwinner, stay at home dad, DAMSL, SITCOM, DINK, OINK, or even HENRY — what does it really matter?
I know I am not an OINK, a DINK, or any of those other labels. I think I would like to be called a MG2AT. I realize it is hard to say, but it means “Man Glorifying God All the Time.”
Published in Lake Healthy Living – June 2014