Financial & Household Management
An area of marriage which results in many conflicts and problems is concerning managing one’s household and family, and one’s finances. Unfortunately many young girls are not taught the value of money or how to spend. They grow up thinking that it is normal to shop all the time, buy new things, have a blackberry and an ipad, have whatever nosh they feel like buying. Of course not all girls grow up like that….it depends on the family’s financial situation. But there are plenty that feel shopping is a must, buying new clothing constantly is a must, having the latest fashion is necessary, owning 20 pairs of shoes is the norm etc. etc. And there is a lot of pressure from peers and from society to constantly shop and buy.
The problem is that when this girl gets married, she brings to her marriage this desire to shop and buy. But her husband may be in kollel or just out of yeshivah and he does not yet have a well paying job and he cannot afford to have his wife shop and buy all the time. So he tries to limit his wife’s spending.
A good eyshit chayil will of course respect her husband and spend carefully….but many women may feel resentful, stifled, unhappy. This can cause shalom bayit problems.
Many girls grow up hearing how important it is for their husbands to sit and learn in kollel….but when it comes to the practicality of that life style, sometimes they are not as happy with it. The reason is that priorities are wrong.
It is very important for girls to be taught what are priorities. If nobody teaches a young girl how to shop, how to look for bargains, how and where to spend she cannot be blamed for failing to understand that.
We have to train our children, to show them how to calculate what is a good buy, what is value for the money, and what is luxury rather than necessity.
A girl must have some nice clothing, a nice sheitel and she must feel dignified and attractive (in a modest way) but she does not have to feel it is necessary to pressure her husband into constantly buying things such as more and more expensive jewelry, a fancier sheitel (unless it is not too expensive), etc. etc. A husband should buy gifts for his wife according to his means at the time. But couples have to learn how to spend and how to save. Preserving and saving money is an art. In today’s society it is a necessity.
People have to realize what is important and necessary and what is not necessary.
Children also have to be taught that they don’t have to demand buying everything. They don’t have to have all the toys and latest gadgets their friends may have. They don’t have to pressure parents into buying everything they want. In fact, raising one’s children not to be spoiled is very important!
A woman must realize how to be a good wife and to support and help her husband rather than putting pressure on him to provide what he is unable to. Many men wish to provide more but they simply do not have the means. A wife must be a source of emunah and faith, a source of encouragement to her husband, but not a source of annoyance or complaining or asking for unnecessary things. Many girls do not understand their husbands or the feeling of pressure their husbands may be under. They constantly nag and complain and make the situation worse.
Every couple must learn to live within their means: to understand that it is not important to push to go on a vacation if one cannot afford it nor to buy whatever a person wants. A man should not feel pressured to provide what he is unable to at the time (as long as the basic necessities are being met) and a woman should not compare herself to others or feel she needs to demand what is beyond their means. It is so important to train ourselves to do with little and to manage with what we can afford. Then a person is content, there is shalom bayit and one can manage with life: with raising a family and living a Torah lifestyle. It is about priorities. And this is something that should be taught to girls before marriage. Many boys are afraid to get married with all the extreme expenses of life. And many girls do not know better and think their husbands will provide them with all sorts of luxuries and a lifestyle they dream of. That is not always reality of life. One needs to learn to live under many circumstances of life and to be happy like that. Nowadays people see on Instagram, facebook and social media all the fun other couples have and they yearn for the same. But we need to learn not to compare our lives to others. We need to appreciate what we have and to be happy with our spouse and children and to not to feel happiness depends on a trip somewhere or buying more clothing or having a fancier life style.
It is obviously good for every girl to learn how to save money wherever possible. IF you live in a place where you pay for water, then you have to learn to conserve water. Don’t run the water constantly or on high pressure when washing dishes. Don’t waste the water when showering. Use water as necessary but in a manner that is not wasteful.
If electricity is expensive, learn to conserve it: don’t leave lights on all over the house for no reason. Learn how to think about what you are doing and save money in every way possible.
In 1970 a dollar used to buy a lot more. Now because of inflation and the situation in today’s society, a dollar buys much less, less than half. That is what was predicted before the arrival of Moshiach that everything becomes expensive. That is why it is so crucial to teach our children how to spend money and save money.
If a girl knows how to sew, this is very useful. In fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe was very much in favor of girls learning to sew and cook as this always comes in handy. Someone who can sew can repair clothing, can sew clothing, can sew curtains, can do many things that save money.
Someone who learns how to cook knows how to create delicious healthy meals but without spending too much if the money is simply not there.
For example, I know someone who was newly married, started a chabad house, and she used to put out lots of chicken for her guests on Friday night. The problem was that the chicken was expensive, she had a difficult time importing it, and her guests were often goyim who did not appreciate kosher chicken. It was a huge waste. So with time she learned to make meals using a little chicken mixed with lots of vegetables and rice and she did not have to waste money. That was called being creative and not being wasteful.
A woman has to learn to be very well organized. One has to constantly keep a list of foods and items that are running low for the next shopping spree. One has to make shopping lists to be sure nothing is forgotten. It is even a good idea to make menus for one or two weeks at a time so one has a plan of what to cook each day and does not waste time figuring out meals each morning or evening.
One has to learn to juggle one’s time: if you were up late at night with the baby, take a little nap wherever possible during the day so you have energy to cook supper and handle the kids with more simcha. It will do a lot of good for your husband too who will come home to a content and rested wife rather than an exhausted “kvetch”.
Of course a husband who sees his wife exhausted should do his utmost, where time permits, to help his wife with the children and with her household chores, particularly the time consuming or more difficult duties such as shopping. When my kids were small and I was busy and tired, my husband used to do the major shopping for me, the heavy jobs such as mopping and taking out garbage, and I basically handled the cooking and baking and keeping the house clean.
And get the kids to help out as well. Train children from an early age to cook, clean and do everything in the house. That way you do a favor to your daughters to teach them when they are young how to manage a household. Same with the boys who learn what it means to help out with clearing the table, taking out the garbage etc.
A woman should be organized in all important duties (ie. For Pesach, start early! And remember, clean to remove chametz. You don’t have to clean your house from top to bottom. Do what you have energy for. But clean for Pesach, not for spring cleaning unless you have extra time and energy. )
Being a successful housekeeper really equals being a successful organizer and being efficient.
But in order to be efficient, one needs energy. If one is over tired, did not sleep well for a few nights in a row, did not eat enough, then it will be difficult to be efficient.
Many girls grow up, marry, and find themselves overwhelmed with housework and kids and even with working out of the home. So what happens? Many look for heterim to prevent having more kids for a while. Because they don’t know how to manage, how to organize their lives, or how to take care of themselves properly. If a girl is taught before marriage about nutrition, about organizing her home, about saving money, about how to be a good wife and mother, then she can manage well and she would not feel the need to prevent having more children. Every child is a huge blessing and brings success and happiness to the home. Unless there is a real medical problem, there is no reason to prevent having children....the problem is that priorities are mixed up, and organization skills are not taught.
And if a woman cannot work outside the home because she is busy with babies, she should not work. Yes, sometimes it is hard to make ends meet, but usually things can be worked out. A husband has to understand his wife’s limitations and not demand something she cannot do. A man has to see his wife’s energy level and ability and Hashem will give the bracha for parnassa, even if the wife does not work. Or many women find things to do from the house to earn extra money. There are ways to work things out. The main thing is to have faith and to fulfill Hashem's will and to put one's children and family as a priority.
Remember, a woman must do her duties with simcha, with happiness. . In order to create a good , cheerful and proper atmosphere at home, a woman must take care of herself, take good care of her husband and children, and must be able to manage her household. Of course if a couple can afford some help, it is also important to get sometimes cleaning help so the woman does not become over exhausted trying to juggle all her responsibilities.
It is important to also feed one’s husband adequately. If a man is starving, or comes home to a supper that is not ready and he has to wait an hour or two before he can eat, that would create a lot of shalom bayit problems. So have food ready on time! This is an important tip for a successful marriage.
Again, in order to do that it requires ORGANIZATION. It requires planning ahead, organizing one's shopping lists, menus and other duties so everything is taken care of in an efficient, timely manner.
Running an organized home is not always easy, especially with little children, but it is important because everyone will benefit. And it is especially important to organize one's meals so everyone has adequate nutrition and can function to their maximum potential. This includes little children.
The job of the wife, the akeret habayit, the mainstay of the home, is extremely important. The wife makes the atmosphere at home. The wife makes sure food is prepared on time and everyone eats properly. the wife makes sure things are clean and orderly. the wife makes sure the children are taken care of and do their school work and the wife makes sure the husband is taken care of, she has time for him as well and the household functions smoothly. Home management should be taught in schools because it is very much the basis of a happy marriage and happy children.