My husband works long hours and travels a lot. I want to cheerfully support the work God has called him to, but I’m growing resentful. How can I think about this in a better way?
Oh, sister, I see you. For a brief season of my life, my husband had a job that, while satisfying, required long work hours and lots of travel. I too battled resentment. It crept into my heart like weeds in a garden and threatened to choke my spirit.
Work is ordained by God (Gen. 1:28), but it is also stained by the fall. We see this when a job forces a man to spend long days or many nights away from the people who need him the most—his family members. Whether your husband is a musician, minister, manager, or military officer, nights apart can be part of the job.
Your desire to cheerfully support your husband is good and can be a blessing to him and your family. The strain of an oft-absent husband can be used by the Lord to refine your character, show you your sin, and bring you into deeper dependence on God and his people.
1. Be honest with yourself.
Do you know why it feels hard to support your husband’s demanding work schedule? Because it is hard. There’s no getting around it being a challenge, an inconvenience, and a sacrifice to have your husband gone so much.
It’s also lonely. A friend with an often-gone husband recently said to me, “I can schedule activities all day long, and it won’t make it any easier, because he is what I need.” Allowing yourself to admit these difficulties will help you think more clearly about how to deal with them.
Then you can begin, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to sift through your emotions and longings to determine their root causes. Does your resentment stem from unmet expectations about how your family life would look? Do you begrudge the way your husband’s schedule inconveniences you? Are you frustrated that your husband gets to see new places and meet new people while you feel trapped at home? Are you anxious about whether he’s being faithful to you? Is anger simmering because you feel taken for granted?
You can’t deal with emotions you won’t acknowledge. Simply berating yourself for not being more supportive won’t work. Ask the Lord to show you the root of your resentment. And bring it to him in prayer. Ask for forgiveness and the strength to walk in repentance and grace.
2. Be honest with your husband.
As you sift through your feelings, you will find some longings and disappointments that are not sinful. Lovingly share with your husband which specific aspects of his job are most challenging for you. Do you miss him joining the family for dinner? Do you long for him to see the kids play soccer? Do you feel as though his work has too much control over your family life? Do you feel unappreciated and disrespected as you hold down the fort?
Sharing your feelings with your husband can open up conversations that might help both of you understand how to better cope with your situation. As you submit to him and he loves you (Eph. 5:22–33), maybe you can serve each other with better solutions.
It also helps to remember why your husband is traveling. (Hint: probably not because he likes being away from you.) He’s using the gifts God has given him in the place where God has positioned him to serve Christ’s kingdom. As his wife and necessary ally, you get to support him in this role. He cannot succeed without your help.
Ask your husband what you can do to help him feel supported in his work. Pray that you can approach the work situation as a team.
3. Ask for help.
If you have children at home, asking for help is crucial. Your resources are limited, but God has already provided what you need.
Let the body of Christ help you in tangible ways. Ask a retired teacher to come over and help your children with homework. Hire a teenager to babysit once a week. Arrange regular playdates so that you can grocery-shop without your posse in tow. Ask extended family members to help with transporting kids to activities. If your husband must travel over the weekend, ask a single person in your church to sit with your family and help corral kids.
Make no mistake—the road the Lord has called you to walk is a hard one, but you don’t have to walk it alone. And the experience, while difficult, can be a mighty means to strengthen your faith.
TGC’s “Thorns & Thistles” column seeks to apply wisdom with practical advice about faith, work, and economics. If you have a question about how to think about and practice your work in a way that honors God, let us know at [email protected]