It's Wednesday, the day that we talk marriage! I write a marriage post, and then you respond in the comments, or, better still, write your own post at your blog and link here!
Today I want to talk to those of who feel like we raise our kids alone, even if we are married. Last night my girls and I watched a really inspirational movie, Gifted Hands.
It's the story of Ben Carson, the world's leading pediatric neurosurgeon. He grew up to a single, African-American mother, and yet still went on to do such incredible things. It was a neat movie. One of the best things about it was how it treats issues of faith. Ben is a Christian (an Adventist), and he prays and reads the Bible throughout the movie. It's awesome.
I had already read the book (it was co-authored by a friend of mine), and I loved it. The way the mother raised her two sons was inspirational, and we could learn a lot from her.
But what the book delved into that the movie didn't was how much Ben's family suffered because of his job. He was just at work all the time, and he didn't know his kids. And how can you argue with him being at work all the time, when he's saving lives? And he's really the only one on the planet who can do it! He separated several conjoined twins that were joined at the brain, and pioneered some other kinds of neurosurgery for epilepsy. How can you argue that he should be at home giving his kids a bath?
Do you have that problem? It can be a tension, can't it? I remember reading Floyd McClung's autobiography (he founded YWAM many years ago). And in it he talked about how at first he threw everything into his ministry, and ignored his family. And one day he woke up and realized that God had given the world to the church to save, but He had given his family specifically to Floyd. So family had to come first. And he changed his priorities because of it.
That's wonderful, but the fact is that many of our husbands don't see it that way, or, even if they do, they have jobs like Ben Carson's. Only they can do them. I think about some men in the military. I have several friends who are about to leave for six months in Afghanistan. One is going to miss his son's high school graduation. That's a big deal. But somebody has to do it, and I would rather Christians be in the military than not.
Or what about pastors? Frequently they can be the worst offenders, since they have so many meetings on week nights. How can they stay close to their families?
My father-in-law was a trucker, gone for a week at a time, and then home for a few days before leaving again. My mother-in-law felt like she raised her kids herself.
These situations are hard. I remember when my babies were young and Keith was finishing his pediatric residency. He had to study for the exam. It really was important, obviously. But Katie was a few months old and she never, ever slept. She only did about 7 hours in a 24 hour period and never consecutively. And yet she was happy as a clam. She wasn't upset; she just didn't need sleep (she still doesn't). I was exhausted. I couldn't function. But Keith HAD to study. He had to pass his exam. He had sympathy, but there was nothing he could do.
When husbands at least realize that their job is taking them away from the family, and apologize for it, that can go along way. But the truth is that many men don't realize it. They're more like Ben Carson, feeling that the job has to be the number one priority (I think he changed his mind later in his marriage, if I remember the book correctly. It's been a while). They resent it when we suggest that they should be home more, because the job is just so important. Then what do you do?
If your husband is called to a really strenuous job that requires long hours, then I suppose it means you've been called, too. And you have to find other support mechanisms to help you and to help the kids. They need to see good male role models. And then what I would suggest is that you snatch time where you can. Make the most of when he's home. Do vacations big, and insist on no cell phones. Have family activities planned, like games or hikes, that you can all do together. Sometimes vacations are all you will really have.
And you have two choices in this. You can make his life miserable, and share the misery you feel, or you can talk to him gently that you're concerned he's missing his children's lives, and brainstorm about how he could find some time in his schedule. Ultimately, though, I think it's got to be God who convicts him. Let him know how you feel, but leave room for God to work, because we can't convict our husbands. It doesn't work.
Then surround yourself with good friends. Hire baby-sitters occasionally so you get some time to yourself. Take up a hobby, like painting or knitting or gardening, that can consume a lot of your energy so that your life is still full. And pray lots for your kids and your marriage.
I don't think that's a satisfactory answer, but I'm not sure there is one. It's just a difficult situation to be in. And if any of you have ever been in it, I'd love to hear what you have done (or hear your struggles!). Please leave a comment, or write your own Wifey Wednesday post! Just copy the picture at the top and post it on your blog, and then write your post. Come on back and add your URL to the MckLinky!
We'd love to hear your thoughts!