…what should I do?
Recently, a long-time friend asked me this question. Her husbandâ€™s hours at work changed and he was home less. With some of his free time, he had chosen to play softball for the summer instead of spend this time with her and her family. It hurt.
Because of long hours at work, extra-curricular commitments and even military duty, this scenario is one that many of us wives face.â€¨â€¨Wanting our husbands home to spend time with us and our family is an admirable goal. The problem is when we elevate this request to the level of a demand and it becomes an idol of our hearts.
In response to loneliness and feelings of abandonment, itâ€™s frightfully easy to withhold love, make ultimatums, spitefully fill up our free time (instead of spending it with our husbands when heâ€™s available at the same time), run our husbands down overtly or by subtle jabs, or to complain about their employer.
As Christians wives, we sometimes even go the â€œextra mileâ€ in the wrong direction to be critical of how his job related or free time choices are sinful because, after all, heâ€™s not leading the family like he should be. However, our anger does not achieve the righteousness of God ( James 1:20 ).â€¨
Ladies, I write these examples of a complaining, critical wife so well because I have done them all. And, I have had to seek forgiveness for all of them, too.
Many of you know that my husband travels frequently â€“ sometimes for weeks at a time. Many of you also know that I have small children at home â€“ so it would seem that I have a â€œrightâ€ to complain or behave this way. Not so.
Does this mean that we canâ€™t talk to our husbands about our concerns? No! But it can be done after prayer, after a heart check, respectfully, and with the willingness to accept that changing our husbandâ€™s heart is not up to us. We can say, â€œI am thankful for your job, but I miss you. Will you consider a job or a schedule change that would enable us to spend more together as a family?â€ He may not be able or might not want to change his job. Or, he might consider what you have said and pursue something that allows him more time at home. Either way, though, petitioning your husband, or anyone for that matter, from a calm, respectful and kind way will always win more respect than a words spoken in a tearful fury.
In the aforementioned situation, my friend asked about counseling â€” as in, she wanted her husband to go with her to a counselor over this. While counseling can be a good thing, please remember that the goal of counseling is not to force a person to do something we want them to do â€“ to manipulate or overpower them with the help or blessing of a counselor. If you are considering a counselor, please choose a Christian one who will help you both keep your hearts humble as you work out your marital struggles, and who will always turn to the Bible for wisdom.
What I have learned from the experience of being without my husband is that I love my husband and that Iâ€™m thankful that he provides for his family. I am thankful for the job that God has provided to meet the financial needs we have. This is not to say that it is not difficult, and it certainly is not to say that I will never fail again. â€¨â€¨
As a Christian wife, here are some things that you can do:
â€¨â€¨Pray pray pray over the situation. Fervently ask the Lord for wisdom and to guard your heart against bitterness. Pray for your husband and ask the Lord to bless him. No one knows your husband like you do, making you the best person to pray for him! The purpose of prayer isnâ€™t to manipulate God into what you want Him to do, but rather to humbly make your requests known and to seek His divine comfort and wisdom. When your husband is home, help him stay spiritually connected to your family by looking for opportunities to gently ask your husband pray with you and with your family. â€¨â€¨”The kids have missed you and pray for you each night before they go to bed. It would be a treat for them if you could pray with them at bedtime tonight, and to let them know you were praying for them while you were away!”
Compliment your husband often, being thankful and thanking him for the time you do have together. What do the Proverbs say about a contentious wife? Fill your conversations with grace. Breathe grace, sister. Visualize the words “love, grace, thankfulness” when you speak to your husband. “Thank you for providing for our family.” “Thanks for the flowers you sent me while you were on the road!” “I appreciate that you took time to call me today, even though we couldn’t be together in person!” Sometimes it’s tough to do this if you are hurting deeply. These compliments will flow more quickly and genuinely, when you fill yourself with the Word. The mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart. (Luke 6:45)
Find little ways to shower him with your love. Place notes in his lunch, emails, taping a note to the steering wheel of his car, meet him for lunch (go to him!) and get dolled up for him, go to his softball games and cheer for him! Last year, we bought pompoms at the dollar store and me and all five little kiddies went to my husbandâ€™s soccer games last season! I was thankful that it was motivating him to be more fit!â€¨â€¨
Ask your husband if there is anything you can do to be a helper to him. A helpmeet is one of our roles as wives. Showing your willingness to do this (really, this is a way to submit to your husband) will show him that itâ€™s not just about you.â€¨â€¨
Let Christ be your comfort. I once had an especially difficult day and was missing my husband badly. My sister, whose husband was stationed in Iraq for a year, happened to call to check on me and the kids late that night. Frustrated, I insensitively asked her, â€œHow are you so calm when your husband could get SHOT at any moment? What if he NEVER comes home?!â€ Very lovingly with all the strength she could muster, she said â€œOur husbands are a gift to us. God is all we need. Husbands are just the little bit of extra love that God gives us. Itâ€™s like God is a big feast, where you could be so full if you wanted to beâ€¦ and husbands are like the special dessert.â€ Yeah, that made me cry. Her tender words made me realize I was relying on my husband to be the â€œfeastâ€ and for God to be the little something extra â€“ the dessert. My portions were off, so to speak.
â€¨â€¨Plan a date-night on your master calendar â€“ so that itâ€™s on his calendar and yours. Tom and I use Google calendar for this. Do not sit around and bitterly wait for him to make the first move. Be considerate of what he would like to do on a date. Going antique shopping and having a quaint dinner is not cool with my husband. Going to a steakhouse and maybe to a kitchen store are my husbandâ€™s favorite activities. Plan it all down to the babysitter and the perfume you’ll wear… and then relax. Keep your expectations low, especially if your husband is jet-lagged. Laugh together. Hold hands. Kiss. Enjoy each other’s company while you’re in each other’s company. Smush your faces together and take a picture with your camera phone. Savor the moment.
Broaden your perspective. Please consider the ladies whose husbands are soldiers in a war zone â€“ they are just thankful their husbands are alive! Respectfully, there are women who rarely see their husbands or who would give anything to just sleep next to their husbands! Reach out to them. Even if it not on the same scale, you still have a taste for what it feels like to miss your husband. Turn these sad feelings around into something positive. Focus your energy on helping these women, being it by watching their children so they can get pampered at the salon for a day or helping them tackle a project at their house that needs the extra hands of a grown-up. My husband goes to Japan often â€“ I was once without him for six weeks straight, while pregnant, with a number of small children at home. It was not easy, but I was very thankful for my friends who helped me through that time. â€¨â€¨Helping others who are in a tough spot helps us to be appreciative of what we do have.
I hope by sharing my heart on this will encourage others who are in this situation or who are ministering to girlfriends who are lonely. Please know that I am not made of asbestos! I still get very lonely, despite all of these things, and that my heart sympathizes with you!
As sisters in Christ, let’s encourage and support one another to ‘take up our cross daily’. (Luke 9:22-24)
Please feel free to post any added helpful thoughts, resources, comments or questions.
Iâ€™m off to pack my husbandâ€™s suitcase – love note included – for his trip tomorrow!
Photo: “Depressed and Lonely” by Lst1984 via Flickr