I’m always joking with friends that my husband’s work schedule and service opportunities would be much nicer for me if I didn’t like him. If I didn’t like him, I wouldn’t care if he was at home. It’s not that he doesn’t balance his work/family time, he does. It’s not that I don’t get more done when he’s gone, I definitely do. But he’s my favorite person. If I had my way, I’d have him around a lot more.
This can cause me to struggle with some attitude problems. (Also, I’ve discovered that I have way more attitude problems as an adult than I ever did growing up. Why did no one tell me that would be an issue?) While my husband is “mine”; he doesn’t belong to me first. He belongs to God first and I fully believe that one of my roles in life is to help Justin serve God better because he’s married to me.
I’ve tried to change my mindset from “letting him go” to “sending him out” when he has places to be. This is not an original idea. I think it was Jess Connolly who shared this concept on Instagram. It’s not that I’m letting him go to residency weekend to teach or to church early to run the sound for rehearsal and morning service or to the men’s retreat to grow spiritually or even to play basketball with some friends. It’s not that I’m letting him go anywhere. I’m sending him. I’m sending him as an ambassador for Jesus doing the work that He has for him.
Instead of my hands (figuratively) clutching his shirt dragging him back toward the house, I want him to picture me cheering him on, praying for him, handling other things so that he can go and serve and learn. And not grudgingly either. My attitude, especially toward motherhood, makes the difference. A cheerful taking the kids to my ball practice while he goes to his. A cheerful “here are our fun plans for the evening while you’re gone.” A cheerful, “we’ll be to church right behind you” when he leaves early.
But once again, I’ve discovered that I can help the mindset along when I have some practical action steps to help myself out. Here are a few things I consider when Justin is out of town or working evenings or serving at church when I’m not there, etc. (And obviously, if your husband travels long-term or is deployed overseas, I don’t even pretend to have anything to help you. You are the fountain of wisdom there.)
- Plan play dates. Get together with friends, yours and the kids. This gives all of you something to look forward and fills your time.
- Do the prep work. Lay out the clothes for church Sunday morning. Get up early enough to do the work without stressing out. Take the snacks/toys to ball practice. You know what the common obstacles are; work around them as much as possible.
- Ask God specifically for help with your attitude toward your family and home. Almost daily I ask God that He would help me to see what He’s given me through His eyes and not my own. I want to have His heart for these children and anything else He has given me to do.
- Adjust your schedule. We’ll take a day off from school during the week and then do school on a Saturday if Justin’s going to be gone over the weekend. That gives us our normal routine on the Saturday which helps at our house.
- Pray over him. When you feel irritated or overwhelmed with your own work, don’t just pray for yourself. Pour prayer over his life and work also because it’s probably not going as smoothly as you imagine it to be.
- Give yourself some fun evening activities. I try not to work every evening when Justin is home. But I’ll plan special work projects or art projects or do my Crafter’s Box on an evening when he’s gone.
- Go somewhere every day. Get out of the house even if it’s somewhere small. Go to the grocery store, the library, the park. Play outside, go for a walk.
- Don’t waste the minutes. Often when I get close to just counting down to bedtime I ask God that He would help me to see that time as His, as sacred, and to use it like that. This time is an investment and just the reminder that God has a plan for it helps me to not waste it.
Last time Justin was out of town, I discovered a genius plan. Get everyone in the car and take the book you’re reading. Go through a drive-thru, get everyone food, let the kids watch a movie while they eat and you read your book while you eat. Amazing battery recharge.
Keep up your normal routine. It always amazes me a little when people act like I’m bored when Justin is gone. We have a full life here. We’re not just here because Justin works here. Go to church, ball games, etc. Whatever you do, do it.
It’s not that I enjoy my husband being gone now but just as I’m sending him out to his work, I’m tackling mine here too.