Is a newlywed working nights a bad idea?

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Is a newlywed working nights a bad idea?

Dec 02, 2013 |Scott Croft
Question

My fiancé and I are getting married next summer and are both students. When we get married, I will have just graduated and will be a registered nurse. He will be finishing up his last year of school and working part time.

A lot of new grads in this field find jobs easily but often have to work nights. My dilemma is that while I do need to find a job quickly, since we will need the income, I am hesitant to work nights as a newlywed. I know God is sovereign and He will provide for us and could have the perfect job waiting for me, but this is still something on our minds to consider, since we don't know what He has.

I would love to hear some feedback on the idea of working nights as a newlywed. Just to clarify, we're not talking about every night, but three nights a week. Obviously I don't prefer it, but is it something I should consider? Or should not working nights be a non-negotiable?

If it is OK for me to work nights, how can we still prioritize our marriage despite our conflicting schedules and busy life? And is it possible for me to still serve him as a homemaker and meet his needs when dinner time is when I'd be leaving for work? We truly want to start well and serve one another, so I would love some feedback on this.

Answer

Thanks for your thoughtful question. First of all, I praise God for the fact that you and your fiancé are making an effort to thoughtfully prepare for marriage and not just a wedding. Well done. There are several questions within your question, so let me try to offer some broad principles on each one.

As to your main question — can or should you consider working nights as a newlywed — yes, this is something you and your fiancé can consider. As your question implies, the conventional counsel given to newlyweds is that at least during the first year of marriage, you should (in an ideal world) spend a lot of quality time together, focus on your relationship, and work to establish habits both relationally and logistically that will stand you in good stead in the long term. In reality, those good and right goals never occur in an ideal world and have to be pursued under the duress of normal life circumstances. The question is, which circumstances involve "acceptable" duress and which involve too much compromise and stress on a new marriage. Obviously, I don't know your individual situation other than what you've written, and I would encourage you to seek counsel from older, married believers who know you well.

Generally though, it's not uncommon at all for someone in a new marriage to be in grad school or finishing an undergrad degree, with all the irregularity of schedule that entails. It's also very common for one or both people to be working jobs in the short term to make ends meet that are not what they ultimately hope to do long term — or like in your case, are just starting out and have to deal with harder schedules, etc. because they are at the bottom of the pecking order within their chosen field.

In terms of your specific circumstances, I would be more hesitant if it were every night instead of the three nights a week you described. You'll be a little out of kilter from the shift work, but you'll still have four relatively "normal" nights a week to establish some good routines and prioritize your relationship, depending on the particulars of your (soon to be) husband's schedule.

As to how you might prioritize your marriage in the midst of a difficult schedule, there's a lot both of you can do. Since it sounds like you will be the primary breadwinner for the first year, it might make sense for your husband to try and adjust his work schedule (if possible) in order to make time for the two of you. Also, don't be afraid to "schedule" quality times together (and yes, I do mean to include sex in that category of "quality times"). That may sound odd to newlywed ears, but I often see young couples who think good times together will always "just happen," or that in order to "count" as a good, romantic event or conversation the interaction has to just spontaneously crop up in the midst of life. That's usually a recipe for an absence of those quality times, if not as newlyweds then certainly as soon as careers and kids come along.

Your new marriage will also probably mean that your husband's last year of school will be a different experience socially and otherwise than it would be as a single guy. On the nights you're available, he will need to do his best to prioritize you and your marriage. That will mean exercising the self-discipline when you're not around to get studies and other commitments taken care of.

I love your desire to serve your husband as a homemaker, and I think you can still do that. As I wrote above, your three nights of work will present some challenges, but it still leaves you the majority of the week to establish the sorts of routines you're thinking of.

Also, keep in mind that many marriages go through acute periods when both marital roles are more flexible. The complementarian view of biblical marriage teaches that generally the husband should be the primary material provider for his wife and family (see Ephesians 5:28-29; 1 Timothy 5:8) and that the wife should prioritize the home (Proverbs 31; Titus 2). That should still be the goal long term, but while you are working the hours outside the home to bring in most of the family's income, your husband should show some understanding — and be helpful! — when it comes to your role inside the home. My wife worked to help put me through law school, and during that time I helped with cleaning, did laundry, and cooked (we both lost weight if memory serves).

Again, all these issues are things the two of you will need to communicate well about, preferably in conjunction with counsel received from older married couples at your church who know you well. I will pray for you to have wisdom as you pursue a marriage that glorifies God, and I wish you both much happiness.

Blessings,
SCOTT CROFT

Copyright 2013 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.

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