“Oh my goodness…I’m so sorry. That’s so hard. I don’t know how you do that.”
As I shared about what my husband did for work—and how it requires regular travel—she looked at me with eyes that were genuinely sympathetic, but also a little pitying. I knew she meant it when she said she was sorry, but it felt like she was more sorry for me.
And honestly? I’ve felt sorry for myself plenty of times, I hate to admit it. Being the wife of a husband who travels for work isn’t always easy. Add having small children to the mix, and it’s enough to make you feel completely insufficient for all the tasks at hand.
For those in the same boat, our natural, sinful nature would tempt us to complain and make sure our husbands knew about everything we had to deal with while they were gone. On the flip side, culture would tell us we’re strong women who don’t need anyone for anything.
The reality is this: neither option is good, and neither is right. Wallowing won’t just make us discontent; it can easily breed resentment toward our husbands and children. And we aren’t enough (2 Corinthians 3:5); scripture is clear on that.
Over the years, I’ve learned many things about myself, God, and my marriage because of having a husband who often travels for his job.
Here are three:
Marriage invites us to encourage our husbands in the work God has provided for them.
I realize this isn’t as black and white as it reads, but what I mean is that we, as wives, have an opportunity to display our unconditional love and support for our husbands when the nature of their job isn’t always ideal. We have an opportunity to spur them on not just as a spouse, but as a brother in Christ. And isn’t that what we are called to do (1 Thessalonians 5:11)?
We are presented with a choice to respond with words and actions that either sting and gripe or support and give thanks. God is glorified when we can look beyond momentary circumstances to “please [our] neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:5 (ESV)
Holding down the fort forces our eyes to our ultimate helper—Christ.
Hear me say I firmly believe God designed marriage the way he did, with a husband and wife who can work and love and serve together. But it can become easy to become so dependent on the other person that we feel like we physically and emotionally cannot parent without them—when, really, we just wouldn’t want to.
So when that God-given helper isn’t physically there, then what? We’re reminded that no other human being completes us or can be our constant counterpart in anything. Husbands simply can’t be in all places at all times (and we can’t, either!).
Solo parenting exposes the beneficially hard work of raising children and reminds us of our desperate need for grace.
I’ve often said I believe children are God’s kindest way of continuing His sanctification in us. Children allow us to experience but a glimpse of God’s love for us through raising them. Children are also humans born with sinful natures, and as their parents, we experience that firsthand.
It can be difficult to practice self-control when our children repeatedly act out and disobey. But when we are slow to anger and able to respond with grace instead of simply reacting, we crucify our own passions and instead embody the fruits of the spirit that make us more like Christ. (Galatians 5:22-24)
It can be weighty to carry the physical responsibilities that come with bearing children and raising them. But when these aches and pains remind us of the physical sacrifice Christ made on our behalf, we can find comfort in knowing a God who truly does understand what we’re experiencing.
Without watering down how difficult it can be to manage everything alone at times, we can be encouraged that the circumstance presents a significant opportunity to live out the most important commandment to love God first and our neighbor—including our husband and children—second. [Mark 12:30-31]
And if that is what comes of it all, then what else can we be but blessed?
Sarah Beth McCloud
Sarah Beth is a wife, mom, and communicator who leads Communications and Public Relations for WinShape Foundation, a Christian nonprofit that operates five ministries to serve people in every stage of life. As a mother to two little ones, she’s equally passionate about finding God in all of the motherhood moments (yes, especially the not-so-easy ones!). Her hobbies include doing dishes and laundry (because #momlife), reading real books she can hold, and writing about what God is teaching her in the highs, lows, and mundane middle.