An encourager in discouraging circumstances

When I first married Josh, I was 18. Barely. We got married just less than one month after my 18th birthday. I can easily say I was "mature" for my age but I really wasn't *that* mature. In my mind, marriage meant that now, he was responsible for taking care of me. It did not even enter into my thoughts that he may have needs (aside from one specific one) that I could really fulfill for him. I however had plenty of needs, mostly emotional, that needed to be fulfilled on a constant basis.
I was a typical needy wife. We actually sort of joke about it now, and call it the "Wife Monster." I expected many of my "needs" to be fulfilled despite my husband's wants or needs. I was ignorant to think that my selfish "needs" were a priority over what he thought would be a priority for us, as a couple.
Josh is a wrestler and will always be a wrestler. He has been wrestling since five years old, and while his passion has shifted from competing to coaching, it is still a huge part of his life. The year we got married, he began coaching high school wrestling. This meant that after work he had practice and was traveling for meets. Needless to say, I did not enjoy being home alone for long periods of time while he was traveling around and coaching.
Now, I would never ask him to quit. That would be way too "Wife Monster." But I am guilty of putting pressure on him to place me as a top priority beyond his desire to coach. Instead of encouraging him to seek recreation that he enjoyed and the extra bit of income it provided, I discouraged him from spending so much time away from me.
Looking back on my actions I can honestly say that I feel ashamed. He quit about halfway through the year, despite his love of the sport and his natural temperamental tendency to teach.
We have now been married 7 years, and I like to think that I have grown as a wife in at least a couple ways. My husband is currently away on a wrestling trip, and I am so very lonely right now. The strain of him being a wrestling coach is a million times harder now than it was back then.
We now live in Alaska, which means there is a wrestling meet every weekend - but travel forces him to be gone for four days at a time, every single week. I now have three children, five and under, to take care of while he is gone. I am about 8 months pregnant. It is winter which means that while he is gone, someone is responsible for shoveling snow, chopping wood, keeping a fire going, losing electricity, grocery shopping for our large family in three or more feet of snow.... all that good stuff. Back when we were first married, a wrestling trip meant two days playing World of Warcraft alone or hanging out with my sister. One trip this year left me on my own for, I believe, six days when the ferry was delayed.
This goes on for about two to three months. It may sound like I am trying to be a martyr, but this is the grueling reality of wrestling season for me. Josh likes to make it seem like it is hard on him too, and I know it is - traveling is exhausting and being away from family sucks.  But in all honesty, he gets to leave town and eat out and go shipping and hang out with his wrestlers, whom he considers friends. I don't get to do any of that while he is gone. Just leaving the house with three small children while pregnant and in the snow is ridiculous at best. I am basically a single mother through all this - once he does get home, he has to go back to work at the school and is so tired from travel and everything else that he can't help much. I know it's not a competition of who has the worst time during wrestling season, but just throwing it out there; wrestling season is a huge struggle for our family.
In seven years, I have learned that it is not about me. What do I get out of this awesome time when Josh is coaching wrestling? Not a whole lot. Just the satisfaction of knowing that my husband is doing something that makes him happy, and something that could potentially be a ministering opportunity. That's it. For those reasons alone, I have to encourage him rather than discourage him. I don't need to let him know how hard it is to be alone for days at a time, especially while pregnant - he already knows this. My duty consists of encouraging him by letting him know that yes, it is hard and yes, I am tired, sore, and lonely but I can handle this. This is something I can do for him. I can be strong and take care of everything at home while he is doing what he needs to do.

Just a little testimony to show you that no, I am not tooting my own horn about how awesome of a wife I am now.....

Josh came home on a Sunday following the Regional tournament. The very next day he informed me that in order to get to the State tournament on time, they would have to leave that very day. I was pretty discouraged, and even though State is the end of wrestling season, I thought that it would be kind of convenient if he couldn't actually go.
He was hired as the *assistant* coach this year, and since only one student made it to State, Josh was told by his superintendent that he, in fact, could NOT go. And that he would be FIRED from his regular job at the school if he went with the head coach and their student that day.
When I got this second bit of news I started crying.
The student was a senior, whom he had coached consistently through high school, and this would be his last wrestling opportunity. This was a very big deal. It is also the accumulation of the entire year of work paying off, and Josh, understandably, wanted to be there for it.
I cried for two days, praying that somehow, God would provide for Josh to make it all the way to who-knows-where for the state tournament before it started on Friday. I was absolutely crushed not only at Josh missing this opportunity, but also, that that was what I had wanted. Apparently even being discouraging internally can have an astounding affect.
On wednesday, however, he informed me that two of his former wrestler's parents had agreed to pay the $600 plane ticket to Anchorage, it was arranged for him to take two days vacation leave and for a substitute to take over his duties at school, and he even had a ride in one of the parents' rental cars and a motel room to go to state after all.
Words can not even express how ecstatic I am to know that God is listening and He answers prayers - and that even though I took the first opportunity to be discouraging, He gave me a second chance to be encouraging instead.
When I told Josh that I had been praying that somehow he would still get to go to State, he was shocked. Apparently it did not cross his mind to pray for that, so the fact that I had and then the Lord provided meant so much to him. I don't think he has ever thanked me so profusely for praying for him.

All this to say that the encouragement makes a huge difference that you probably don't even realize. This can be applied to so many situations in so many marriages, and even several other situations in my own marriage. How many places in your life are you discouraging to your husband? Do you discourage him because he wants to make a decision for the family that you don't agree with? Do you discourage how he spends money? Do you discourage him from his hobbies? Do you act discouraging about his relationship with you, your children, or even his relationship with God?

I can think of several places in my life where I could do things differently. It would be very easy for my husband to tell me that I need to pick up the slack here or there. But when I think about it, I can honestly say he always finds ways to encourage me instead of discouraging.
If I'm not keeping the house clean enough, it looks clean enough to him.
If I am losing my temper with him or with the kids, I must need to go take a nap.
If I neglect him and the children to do something for myself, it was probably much-needed time.
I can't say I always offer him the same courtesy. In fact, I still give in to the temptation to tell him how hard it has been while he has been away. I still give in and demand to know why he is napping while I am trying to take care of this or that.
In my own spiritual journey trying to change the way I interact with him, I am beginning to notice it more when he is encouraging to me. The most noticeable thing though is that when I am being a discourager, even without realizing it, he does not begrudgingly discourage *me* the next chance he gets - which is totally something I, as a woman, would do to him. My husband truly amazes me and inspires me to develop my relationship with the Lord!

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor; For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone?
And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
                                                   Ecclesiastes 4:9-12


  1. Awesome blog and perfectly stated. This is what I had just written about on my Facebook...encouragement. What would the world look like if we just stopped and thought for a minute before responding to someone else. Then, what if we made it a point to simply encourage others? It costs us nothing and can change relationships. You are a smart wife :) love your blog.

  2. But why isn't anybody helping you clear out the snow? Are there no neighbors with plows on their trucks in Hoonah? No nice students with shovels?

  3. I actually had several people offer to help me shovel snow and anything else I needed help with while Josh was away. I have a hard time accepting help, but one particularly sneaky neighbor kept doing my driveway when I wasn't looking :P

    1. You are how far along? Accept the help, for heaven's sakes! God thought rest was so important that He built it into His creation at the beginning. People are offering it to you. Take the gift.

      Please take care of yourself. And if there is a little voice niggling at you and saying that you should be able to do it all, be it all, handle it all . . . tell that little voice to shut up. Because it doesn't care about your rest or your health. Or your baby's health. Or your ability to recharge so you can take care of your older children.

    2. Don't worry...I am 35.5 weeks now and I am finally starting to feel the third trimester exhaustion for real! I have been mostly sleeping for the last three days (yikes!) My health is fine :) I think it's pretty normal for moms to feel like they need to "do it all." I know when to quit though... besides, Josh doesn't let me get very far without telling me I need a nap! :P

  4. I can certainly understand your being stressed in your situation. Don't feel bad about that. My husband traveled when I had small children (and lived in a snowy area)--I know how lonely and scary it can be.

    My advice--take some time for yourself when your husband gets home. Let him watch the kids while you go to the market alone, or even go have a coffee. It is essential to ask--no, expect--him to help out so you can get away. Men usually won't think of this on their own. They aren't aware that we have needs unless we show them and tell them (sometimes over and over). It is much better to do this than to lose your temper later on.

    Take care of yourself, or you can't care for anyone else.

    I completely understand hoping Josh would not go to the State tournament. I'd be pretty annoyed if he just came home and had to leave again. Those feelings are quite valid and legit.

    Do you want your kids to remember a happy mom or an exhausted mom? Stop worrying about Josh's needs so much (he seems to be doing fine) and take care of yourself.

    1. I think the point of this post might have been vaguely *missed*. I'm not saying that I am a lowly woman,, not deserving of rest even while pregnant because I must be a servant to my husband regardless of my own health :P All I'm saying is that as women, we tend to think "I've had a long day, my husband just got home, I should put *me* first." That's not the way it should work, maritally or biblically. As Christians we are called to serve each other - be it friend, sister, husband, what have you. But this is especially important in marriage. Just because I am pregnant doesn't mean that I automatically qualify for full service at all times from everyone around me. Even being as far along as I was when I wrote this post, I know very well that my husband was more worn out and exhausted when he got home than I was!
      Now on that note, as I stated above, I am now fully feeling the effects of being "almost done" with pregnancy and I have hardly gotten my lazy bottom off the couch - and my dear Husband, as sweet as he is, has not once expected me too. He has also cooked all the meals that I was too tired to stand up and cook myself - and I didn't ask or *expect* it... he just did it because he knows I need to rest :)


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