In our study of the book of Ruth we’ve seen that choices matter. Naomi, obediently went with her husband Elimelech to the country of Moab to escape the harsh conditions of famine in Bethlehem.
It’s not clear whether she discussed the decision with her husband, but once her husband died she was faced with a decision of her own. Should she stay in Moab with her two sons or return to Bethlehem. Now without a husband, it would be hard to return even if the famine ended. It probably wasn’t easy to stay in Moab either, but they at least probably had a home, and the boys were building relationships. Once Mahlon married Ruth and Killion married Orpa, the choice for Naomi to stay was made easier.
Why the two sons chose to get married to Moabite women rather than encourage their mother to return with them to Bethlehem is not clear. Their inheritance, though at the time probably not worth much, was evidently not that important to them. Maybe they thought they would get established in their marriages and then return, but they waited too long. Maybe they thought it would be easier for their wives to have children in Moab where they would have a supportive community.
It’s not clear from the information in the book of Ruth, but they waited too long. It says both of them died, leaving all three women in the family widowed.
Was their father’s example to take a more convenient alternative than endure the challenges of famine and flee to Moab a part of what made it easier for them? Only God knows. But it’s clear, choices matter.