With my recent homesteading
obsession research, I was comparing words that I had heard (and used) all of my life but couldn’t remember reading their (proper) definitions in the dictionary. You see, I was on the hunt for the “perfect” name for our future family farm. I found myself on a rabbit trail following words like farm, homestead, farmstead, housewife, and so on.
And it got me thinking. I use both the words housewife and homemaker to describe myself and think of them differently. I wasn’t sure if I was using them how they were originally intended to be used, so I studied further.
First, let’s look at what I mean by the words housewife and homemaker.
To me, housewife equals a married woman who stays home rather than work outside of the home (whether she works from home is addressed later). Her first job/work IS to manage her household. In addition to being a devoted wife who strives to be a godly wife, she seeks to be a wise steward over her household. This may look different in every marriage. Housewifery is a duty.
I think of a homemaker as someone who desires to make her house a home for her family, whether she works outside of the home or not. She feels it is her responsibility to create a warm & secure atmosphere for her husband and children. She wants to keep it clean, of course… but more importantly, she wants to keep it comfortable and welcoming. Homemaking is a calling.
I feel strongly about both roles. To be honest, I am probably better at being a housewife than being a homemaker. I am fiercely devoted to my husband (and children), but not as gentle and warm as I’d like to be (as I should be!).
I can manage our finances, supplement our income, write up budgets, source the cheapest healthy foods, stick to a routine, give & enforce chores and so on. I can even organize and purge our home frequently (and enjoy doing it), but, I struggle to keep our home homey, relaxed, and peaceful.
My mom was so wonderful at being a homemaker. She definitely made our house a home that was filled with love, laughter, and living! I know I am probably overly critical of myself, but I constantly feel like I am falling short of the expectations I made for myself.
I want my kids to have (and feel) what I did. What I still do, when I remember my childhood. Our home was the most comforting, comfortable, and secure place of my childhood. I can only hope that my children will grow up and remember our home as a warm, comfortable, and safe haven (please, Lord, let is be so). Like I said, perhaps I am overthinking it since I feel the weight of the responsibility on my shoulders.
Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. I wanted to share the definitions of the words housewife and homemaker.
HOUSEWIFE, noun hous’wife. The mistress of a family.
1. A female economist; a good manager.
2. One skilled in female business.
(alternately, Dictionary.com has this to say about the word housewife: “
I thought this gave further understanding of her role: HOUSEWIFERY, noun hous’wifery. The business of the mistress of a family; female business in the economy of a family; female management of domestic concerns.
Interestingly, the word homemaker is not in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. But, I found it on Dictionary.com.
So, they are defined as essentially the same thing, but in modern times, the word housewife has somehow become offensive and so they replaced it with the word homemaker and made it gender-neutral.
I still feel that a homemaker (aka maker of the home), can be defined as someone who literally makes the house a home. Regardless, I consider either term an honor, privilege, responsibility, role, and occupation that I entered into the day I said my marriage vows.
What does the Bible say about a housewife or homemaker?
I believe the description of the “Proverbs 31 Woman” encompasses both a housewife and a homemaker. The duties & expectations of the housewife and the calling & qualities of the homemaker.
In the future, I plan to share more of my study of Chapter 31 of Proverbs as it pertains to both the housewife and homemaker. I have been amazed at the change that has taken place within my own heart as I’ve sought to learn more about this woman of virtue!
Every woman can (and should) strive to be a devoted and godly housewife and homemaker. This does not take an extra smart or especially talented woman, just one who desires to be the woman God wants her to be and does her best with what she’s been given.
Alternately, a smart & talented woman is not above the position of housewife and homemaker. Every adult woman who is married is capable of these attributes. The Bible says to ask for wisdom and it will be given, so I believe that every woman will grow into the wise housewife and discerning homemaker God desires of her.
It is often a painful (and slow) growing process, as I can testify to, but so worth it. I’m on a life-long journey as a wife, mother, woman, and child of God. I am being refined in the fire, molded by God’s hand. Sharing my thoughts “out loud” through my writing is my way of thinking through and absorbing what I learn. Please share your thoughts on the matter with me!