It’s late at night and my husband is gone for the third night this week.
I miss when he walks through the door after work at a reasonable time, shouting in his deep voice, “Daddy’s Home!” I miss his comforting presence at the dinner table, where we say grace and enjoy time together as a family. I miss the laughter of our children when they wrestle him before bed. I miss his arms wrapped around me, kissing my neck while I wash the dishes before we go upstairs to bed. I miss our late night conversations, filled with memories of our day. I just miss him.
My husband is in a busy season at his job. He works odd hours and when he’s home he wants to de-stress and talk about his day at work. He’s home late and leaves early, he’s checking e-mails and texts late at night, and he’s off to meetings in the middle of the weekend.
Lately I’ve been resenting his job and the time it takes away from our family. I see the burden it puts on his shoulders. I resent the amount of evenings I spend wrestling our very young kids to bed alone.
For years I’ve felt like I must keep silent. Grin and bear it. Sacrifice for a greater cause.
There’s one little detail I haven’t mentioned.
My husband is a Pastor.
As his wife, it feels like there’s an unspoken rule that I must accept his calling and joyfully sacrifice my own desires. If I complain and show my resentment, then my children might complain too. Instead, I try to make nights when Daddy is away fun. I try to turn my children’s attention away from their aching for him. And my own aching too.
Nobody talks about the burden that many wives carry. Whether your husband is a pastor or not, many of us know that thick heavy silence of our absent husbands. We know the cries of our children, “I want Daddy to put me to bed!”
I was raised my entire life by a single mother. And every night when I am alone my heart aches for the single mothers out there in the world, who don’t get a break at all. I say a silent prayer, knowing that as hard as it may be for me, it’s so much harder for them.
Some nights I cry tears for us all. On nights when I feel completely alone, I remind myself that I’m not. There are many of us out there.
So what do I do with the loneliness and heartache?
For me, the answer has to be prayer.
I pray for some help, and then I ask. I look for women who are willing to hold my baby, and wash my dishes. I pray for a break and for a community willing to see the wives of leaders, hiding in the shadows.
I pray for my husband, who is worn out in one of his toughest seasons of ministry. I pray that God would give his weary soul some rest.
I pray for myself. For strength and endurance, and also for grace for myself. I pray that I will give myself the space to feel all the feelings I need to. To not feel stifled simply because of unspoken expectations the church may place on me.
I pray for our children, that they would know that God does not expect us to sacrifice our happiness for the church. And I pray they don’t feel that burden.
And most of all, I pray for change. Because wives are not meant to sacrifice their souls for their husband’s jobs. Wives are not meant to feel bone weary. I pray that God would bring us a new and refreshing season; I beg him on my knees. I don’t know what that season will look like, but I believe it’s just around the corner.
I believe the church must become a place that doesn’t take the life out of their leaders and families. I pray the church becomes a place that is life-giving; a fountain of renewal and hope. I pray that leaders are given grace and rest, and leaders with young families are given margin in their days. I want to see young men picking up their kids up from school, sitting down with their children for dinners, and taking vacations with their wives.
Today, I pray for change.