Recently, a long-time friend asked me this question. Her husband’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. 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, it’s frightfully easy to withhold love, make ultimatums, spitefully fill up our free time (instead of spending it with our husbands when he’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 “extra mile” in the wrong direction to be critical of how his job related or free time choices are sinful because, after all, he’s not leading the family like he should be. However, our anger does not achieve the righteousness of God ( James 1:20 ).
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 – sometimes for weeks at a time. Many of you also know that I have small children at home – so it would seem that I have a “right” to complain or behave this way. Not so.
Does this mean that we can’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 husband’s heart is not up to us. We can say, “I 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?” 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 — 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 – 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 I’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. As a Christian wife, here are some things that you can do: Pray pray pray over the situation. The purpose of prayer isn’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. Also, look for opportunities to gently ask your husband pray with you and with your family. Start by complimenting 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. This can only come with filling yourself with the Word. Forgiving as you have been forgiven. 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 husband’s soccer games last season! I was thankful that it was motivating him to be more fit! 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 it’s not just about you. Turn contentment issues over to Christ – we are to be content in all circumstances. While you may not have control over your husband, contentment is your choice. Plan a date-night on your master calendar – so that it’s on his calendar and yours. 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 husband’s favorite activities. Plan it all down to the babysitter. Broaden your perspective. Respectfully, there are women who rarely see their husbands or who would give anything to just sleep next to their husbands! My husband goes to Japan often – I was once without him for six weeks straight, while pregnant, with a number of small children at home. It was not easy. Please consider the ladies whose husbands are soldiers in a war zone – they are just thankful their husbands are alive! Please, be thankful for and look for ways to work with what you already 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 feel free to post any added helpful thoughts, resources, comments or questions.
I’m off to pack my husband’s suitcase for his trip tomorrow!