Dear Justyna writes (in part):
I was and I still am stay at home mom. But — I always wonder – how people deal with fear – what if something happens to my husband – our only bread winner? I don’t have qualifications to go right back to work and support myself and my kids.
All the best, Justyna
I get a bunch of mail with this main theme: What if something happens?
Very often, it’s the husband who has trouble with the burden of being the one income-earner — it feels too risky.
Of course, this fear, beaten into us as society pushes for women to work outside the home, begs the question of what if something happens to both of you, and perhaps that highlights the indispensable role of trust and the need to accept uncertainty, since we really don’t know what the future holds.
We should also think about how even more precarious things would be at home if our lifestyle was based on two incomes, plus all the outside help needed to sustain two working parents, and one parent dies. Living simply does help when disaster strikes.
Nevertheless, as the old joke goes, “Swim, Johnny, swim!”* — That is, in addition to reminding you to trust and accept uncertainty, I am also going to fix this worry. It’s simple.
We live in a modern age where thankfully, you can buy life insurance, the purpose of which is to alleviate this fear as far as possible. God put us in a certain time, in a certain place. In the past, some people did suffer financial doom when the income-earner died or was incapacitated. Communities worked to help — the Chief’s great-great-(great?) grandfather was the forerunner to today’s Knights of Columbus insurance provision, implementing a fund to help widows bury their husbands. Such were the works of mercy at the time (and still are very necessary).
Your husband needs life insurance. Dave Ramsey recommends seven to ten times the amount of his income. Often, his work covers this need. If not, get it on your own. Make room in your budget for this item.
I find it interesting, as I read that second link, that when actually imagining what a full-time worker would do to manage a home with children in it without his wife, financial planners get serious about the difficulty and stress he would face. This shows you just how vital being the manager of the home really is. It’s actually impossible to put a dollar value on it, yet when we try, we find out that it would be high.
The enterprise of making a family takes a lot of skill and time! Because we women by nature tend to do our work without boasting and beating our chests, we end up accepting the man’s view that what men do is worth more and that what we do is worthless and can be done by anyone.
It all depends on your viewpoint. When we speak in terms of the woman contributing, we think income. But as this discussion of life insurance shows, as soon as we think about the cost of not having the wife there, running things, saving money, and providing breathing room (one analyst in that discussion talks about the husband having time to be with his kids after his wife dies, versus having to use his free time to figure out food, clothing, cleaning, sick care, and so on) — suddenly we see the value of this manager.
I go into this hidden but actually indispensable role in this other Ask Auntie Leila post. Perhaps you are convinced, but still worried. Thus I recommend: Get life insurance!
*Have you heard that joke? The little boy’s rowboat is sinking out on the lake. His mother, standing on the shore, wrings her hands and calls out, “Pray, Johnny, pray!”
His Dad, also on the shore, also worried, shouts, “Swim, Johnny, swim!”