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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When the Wife is the Breadwinner -- A Look into the Role Reversal in Providing for the Family

I am a homebaker. I bake bread and cakes and all sorts of goodies. :)


My first attempt at making pan de sal
- a staple for Filipinos at breakfast :)
- 2013


  1. a person who earns money to support a family.

According to Wikipedia:

The breadwinner model is a paradigm of family, centered on a breadwinner -- "the member of a family who earns the money to support the others".[1] The breadwinner is usually a heterosexual male, as the model is based on patriarchal norms, with the male working outside the home to provide the family with income. The female usually stays at home and takes care of children and the elderly.

Why the word BREAD-WINNER? What is it with BREAD and WINNING?

According to a foodie blogger,,

The definition of the word itself is "a member of a family whose wages supply its livelihood," which has the tendency to refer to the male head of the household.
The first known use of this word was in 1771 or more commonly 1818 when it was used to refer to the "skill or art by which one makes a living." A compound word, the bread in "breadwinner" refers to the food that was a staple for many households throughout history and for the overall general referential term for food, and winner is what you all know it as.
The breadwinner was the person who was able to "win" the most "bread" for the family, most likely the one who had the highest paying job. It's a term that many still use today!

(Note: If it were here in the Philippines, a more apt term would be "RICEWINNER", because bread is not really a staple in our country, although we do love our pan de sal for breakfast or merienda (snack). But, to NOT have rice in our meals? That is unthinkable!)
Rice is always a staple in any Filipino party. :) - Feb 2014

The Biblical roles of the husband, based on some Bible verses are the following:

1. PROVIDER: "But if any man does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. " 1 Timothy 5:8
2. HEAD OF THE FAMILY: "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. " 1 Cor 11:3
3. PROTECTOR: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, " Ephesians 5:25
4. LOVER: "Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. " Col 3:19

Given what we know as the definition of "BREADWINNER" and what the husband's Biblical roles are in the family, how come more and more women are "winning the bread" nowadays?

Modernization, feminism and women empowerment are some of the reasons why wives are no longer confined to the home. None of those are exactly "evil" in and by themselves, but they have all contributed to the present reality of women as breadwinners.

I would like to point out some DECEPTIONS that women of today widely believe to be "true" with regards to "having a career" or "being the breadwinner" by citing some excerpts from Nancy Leigh De Moss' book, 'Lies Women Believe and The Truth That Sets Them Free.' I summarized it into TWO Big Deceptions:

DECEPTION Number One:  A family cannot survive on ONE income.

It is widely assumed today that a family simply cannot make it without two incomes.  It is true that one of the unfortunate by-products of the feminist revolution is that our economy has become dependent on two-income families.  However, that does not necessarily mean that families cannot survive on one income.
The truth is, God gave to man the primary responsibility to be the "breadwinner" for his wife and children. The Enemy has seen to it that it has become extremely difficult to function this way, but it is always possible to live according to the Truth if we want to.

No it's not easy; they don't have a lot of material things many people consider necessities today. Yes they make sacrifices -- in a sense; but the sacrifices pale beside what they are gaining in exchange. In virtually every case,

  • these families are content and have joy;
  • the have a better sense about values and the things that really matter than do many two-income families;
  • they have learned to pray and depend on God for everything from "daily bread" to college tuition;
  • the parents and children have close, loving relationships with each other;
  • they are actively involved in serving others in practical ways that many families don't have time (or energy) to do when both parents are working outside the home.

Now you tell me, who is really sacrificing?

In a fallen world, I realize there are some situations where the "ideal" may not be possible. However, realities such as the prevalence of divorce and single moms should not make us throw out the ideal. It should make us more conscious of the desirability of God's Way. We must resist caving in to the culture. After all, it is the culture of "working moms"  -- at least in part -- that has given rise to an increased divorce rate, more single moms, more affairs, more teen violence and more stressed-out, depressed, exhausted women.

Deception Number Two: When my husband is passive, I should take on the breadwinner role.

God created the man first and gave him the responsibility to lead and feed those under his care. The woman created from man was made to be a receiver, to respond to the initiative of the husband. Even the physiological differences between men and women express this fundamental difference.
Interviewing Nikki Valdez, a singer

But who is leading and feeding in this account? Not the man, but the woman. And who is responding? Not the woman, but the man. Something is wrong with this picture. And ever since, the same things has been wrong with the sons and daughters of the first couple. That role reversal became the pattern for the way fallen men and women relate to each other.
As was true with Adam and Eve in the Garden, our instinct is to blame the other party for this problem. As women, we are quick to fault men for being passive and to insist that if they were not so inactive --- if they would just do something --- we would not take matters into our own hands.
Over the years, women have insisted to me that their husbands' passivity has "forced" them to take over:

  • "My husband won't work. If I didn't go out and get a job, we would starve to death!"
  • "If I let my husband take the lead in financial matters, he would drive us to bankruptcy!"
I can't help but wonder to what extent we women have demotivated and emasculated the men around us by our quickness to take the reins rather than waiting on the Lord to move men to action. We can so easily strip men of the motivation to rise to the challenge and provide the necessary leadership.

At times, I have asked women who are frustrated by the inactivity of their husbands, "What would happen if you didn't jump in to handle the situation?" You think you have to go to work because he won't get a job? If he gets hungry, he will probably work! You feel you have to take charge of the finances because he is irresponsible with money? He may go bankrupt. But that may be exactly what it takes for God to get his attention and change his character. You must be willing to let him fail --- believing that ultimately, your security is not in your husband but in a sovereign God who is not going to fail you.
My former TV program with the government network - 2011

I "believed" the two deceptions above and took on the breadwinner role in our marriage sometime between 2009 to 2011. At first I "believed" that we could not survive on my husband's income alone. And then, when he resigned from his job due to stress, I "believed" that our family would not survive if I didn't take action.

All throughout those years, I felt miserable, "masculated" and unloved. I felt bitter and resentful, thinking that my husband had left me to fend for myself and our family. My husband on the other hand, felt depressed and redundant. So much so that he wanted to separate from me, or even, die! He felt that I was soooo unhappy but he was unable to save me from my misery. :(

Very pregnant with Isabelle
2 months old Isabelle Veronica
In my decision to submit fully to God and then to my husband Dong was also my decision to STOP working. That was the ONLY solution I could think of that would allow God to work through my husband. 

The more I earned, the more paralyzed my husband seemed to be in providing for our family. The more I went about my business, the more he seemed to be lost in his own life purpose. In trusting that God would provide for us through my husband, I did the most impractical thing a gainfully employed woman with four little ones could do -- I quit working! God had timed it to be when I was pregnant with our fourth and I wanted to rest also during the pregnancy and after childbirth. We still had some financial resources and our home bakeshop, and I trusted that if my decision to submit was really God's Will for me, He would provide for our family and His children won't go hungry.

At that time too, I have told myself that I would rather we starve than for me to continue being resentful and proud. I needed to do something drastic because I would rather have "lean months" with love and respect, than "rich months" full of bitterness and strife. In view of eternity, any inconvenience or sacrifice would be worth it, as long as I got my spirit right with God! I trusted that God would see us through. It was a crazy, some might even say STUPID idea (!) but I was convinced in my heart that God would not forsake us!!!

And He did not indeed! He provided generously and on the dot. God is really never too early, never too late, just right on time, all the time!:)
Reece helping me with the pandesal, while I looked on. :) - Jan 2014
You see, just around the time I submitted to God and to Dong, we were able to sell off our property that had been on the market for on-and-off, give-or-take seven years. Having received a windfall due to the sale, from a buyer out of nowhere (!), we were now "free" from financial constraints. I could now focus on my God-ordained role as helper to him and as nurturer to our children; and he could now fulfill his God-ordained role as head of the family and provider.  

GOD had provided!!!

My "crazy and stupid" idea turned out to be a true test of my faith in God. In believing that I would be led by God in following my imperfect husband's leadership, I also believed that God would provide for us through my passive husband's headship. No matter that between Dong and I, it is usually I, who has had more career opportunities in the past. It didn't make "worldly sense" to simply STOP. But it made perfect sense to me since I started my submission journey.

To re-quote De Moss : "You must be willing to let him fail --- believing that ultimately, your security is not in your husband, but in a sovereign God who is not going to fail you."    I was not only willing to let Dong fail, I was even willing to let our family experience 'hardship' while in transition! That was how much I believed in God's Sovereignty and His Great Design for Marriage!

I felt that if I STOPPED, God would work wonders in my husband and MOVE in his life. Something that for all my HUSTLE and BUSTLE in the past only led to his "PARALYSIS" and INACTION. The "Dominant Wife/Passive Husband Recipe for Disaster" in action. I believed that if I stopped working, Dong would step up the plate as the breadwinner once more, like in the early part of our marriage.

It was an extremely scary leap of faith but I did it! I jumped and God caught me (thankfully!) and kept me safe. :) Praise God!!!

* * *
Husband and Wife in a Bread-making seminar
In an ideal world, the man would always be the provider and the woman would always be the nurturer. The man is the one "tilling the soil" and the woman is the one "bearing the children". There would be instant RESPECT right there for the husband from his wife because the God-ordained roles are in place. RESPECT comes naturally in this setup.

However, in a fallen world where there is massive unemployment and imbalanced career opportunities, more often than not, it is now the women who are "winning" the "bread" for their families. In such a scenario, should wives still submit to their husbands, even when "RESPECT" no longer comes naturally, because of the reversal of roles?

According to April Cassidy, The Peaceful Wife, in her blog post, 'Reversing Economic Role Reversal':

I have corresponded with Laura Doyle “The Surrendered Wife” author and Nina Roesner “The Respect Dare” author – and both concur that when the wife is the only breadwinner it is very often a recipe for disrespect, depression and turmoil.  It IS possible for a wife in that position to give up control, allow her husband to lead and respect him as the God-given head of the home – but it is MUCH more difficult.
There is something about a husband being the provider – I think it is because he is to be a picture of Christ in the marriage, caring for and providing for the church.  

When the husband is the sole provider or main provider – that causes an “automatic” level of respect in the heart and mind of a wife.  But when the wife is the sole provider or main provider – that triggers an almost irresistible disrespect. 
It’s not just hard for a wife to respect her husband in that situation, it’s very difficult for a man not to work.  Most men find their identity in their work.  There are many studies about men who stay home as dads about incredibly higher levels of depression and even significantly more heart attacks at earlier ages.
So – what is a wife to do in this situation?  Sometimes she can’t “just quit” because he needs a job first before she could cut her hours or quit.
Let me say, I don’t believe it is a sin for a wife to be the sole breadwinner – and there are times it is unavoidable.  The sin comes in our attitudes.  That is where we will have to be vigilant.

The wife being the primary breadwinner of the household, already produces some sort of friction in the home; what more when the wife is the SOLE breadwinner? This kind of marriage setup makes it even harder to submit to a husband who is not "manly" enough to "fulfill his provider role", but it can be done, with a lot of effort, a lot of humility and a lot of prayers, BUT it won't be an easy ride, that's for sure. :( The wife though must still respect her husband even when he is not bringing home the bacon, but is possibly cooking it himself for when his wife gets home....

When they get "Oscar", they lose their husbands.

An aside: I wrote a blog post on "The Oscar Love Curse" months back. It has been recorded that when an actress brought home "Oscar", it almost always led to her divorce or separation a year or so after her win. It might not be about "providing" anymore but role reversals are more often than not, a great cause of  strain in any relationship -- rich or poor, famous or obscure. Something about going against how we were wired by our Creator produces unsatisfactory results. :(

If one is to really believe in the concept of Biblical submission, one also must believe that God will course His Material Blessings through the husband's leadership. Things must be done, to as much as humanly possible, not reverse the roles for it to not be an uphill battle which almost always leads to disrespect, but if for reasons like ---  a really, really, bad economy; disability; or any other grave reason --- that makes the husband unable to provide temporarily or even permanently, then one should make the most out of this "unnatural" setup for it to still glorify God. But, for as long as one can prevent the reversal of roles, one should strive to keep the God-ordained order in place. This is the ideal and the kind of orderly setup where respect comes naturally and easily. In all instances, humility of heart and mind is a must.
My husband has gotten back his breadwinner role when I
submitted to him.

Here are some Bible verses that keep our focus on God as the Great Provider, Who cannot be outdone in Generosity, even when the husband is NOT the primary or sole breadwinner, and when it is through the wife that the Lord is coursing through His Material Blessings:
Cinnamon rolls I  was about to bake :)

Romans 11:36

Contemporary English Version (CEV)
36 Everything comes from the Lord. All things were made because of him and will return to him. Praise the Lord forever! Amen.

James 1:17

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

17 Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same.

1 Corinthians 4:7

English Standard Version (ESV)

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Philippians 4:19

English Standard Version (ESV)

19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 10:3

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,

    but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

Matthew 6:25-34

English Standard Version (ESV)

Do Not Be Anxious
No anxiety Isabelle :)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:33

English Standard Version (ESV)
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

God is the Giver of ALL Gifts. From Him, all good things come. No matter to whom it is He courses His Blessings through (may be the husband or the wife or both), may nobody forget that all that we have and possess are just "lent" to us on "borrowed time." May we never boast of His Gifts, but with humble and contrite hearts, be grateful for them and be generous to others who might also be blessed by them; and in so doing, create room for the Lord to bless us even more -- Him Who could never be outdone in Generosity. Him Who is our GREAT Provider. 

In this season of my life, I direct my sight towards Christ and Him alone. In reading the Bible, my spiritual hunger has been appeased. In following Him and His Teachings, my spiritual dryness has been abated. Thanks be to God! :)

                                                      John 6:35

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."
Now, THIS is The Living BREAD that is a true WINNER! :)

May we all be richly blessed! :)

1 comment:

  1. Everything you've said is good and what can I say? I hear this type of thing from housewives all the time. But-and I am a christian-I firmly believe that a woman should work, married or not. I've been married 7 years with 3 children. I run my own very successful business which I've been doing since college. I mean, unless Jesus meant the Parable of Talents for men only, then I think God meant for us to use the gifts he gave us and he will ask us if we don't. Please DO NOT misunderstand me: this is not to say housewives don't use their gifts. Afterall, gifts can always be used to manage the home efficiently. But what if you've always been gifted with advocacy, with activism, with medicine and so on? Couldn't a lawyer help people fight for their rights? Couldn't a doctor help to heal people and give them their health? Does it mean that once you marry and have children, you cannot help society in these ways? Paul says we should be keepers at home but if God calls you to use your talents to help people and that involves working outside the home, who are you to obey? Paul or God? It has been my experience that the God who gave me these gifts, these gifts I use in helping and encouraging women has also given me the grace to manage my home effectively. And also, based on past experiences, I cannot see myself asking my husband for money or permission to use money ALL THE TIME! I am supposed to be his helpmeet in everything, so if I'm to be his helper all the time, it's only right that I contribute to the home's financial upkeep (Proverbs 31). In that same vein, as a servant leader, he helps me with housework when he can. This doesn't mean that I don't defer to him or ask for his guidance. It just means I am not at his mercy because most housewives I know are at the mercy of their husbands. If he decides not to provide, if he leaves you for another woman, if he decides to "discipline" you, you're stranded because you depend on him for money, whether or not you like the word "depend." Many of my fellow christian wives will say I shouldn't say these things but husbands are human beings too and all human beings are prone to making mistakes.
    I hope I'm making sense. I don't dislike anything you're saying, just respectfully disagreeing. I do think it's acceptable for a married Christian mother to work: not just acceptable but adviseable. Any christian woman who is true to herself and knows and understands her role can be a submissive breadwinner. You should simply say to your husband "Honey, I know I make more money but in my capacity as your wife and understanding my God-given role as the helpmeet and not the leader, I am trusting you to make the final decision concerning our finances." It might not be easy, but if she trusts God's grace, she will be able to abide. Just my opinion


Feel free to comment. I would love to discuss things with you. :)