Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Gift of Letting Your Husband Leave

Brian's gone again.
Every week he leaves.  For a few hours one night a week, he's gone.  When he first started doing it, about five years ago, it was a hard adjustment.  It didn't seem fair that he could go out every week while I was left with the kids again.  I mean, I supported him because he felt it was really important but didn't he know I'd been doing this all day?  Didn't he realize I needed to get out, too??  Where was MY time? (I conveniently forgot during those interior whine sessions about the play dates, Facebook time, phone calls, and emails that happened all throughout the day.)  There were certainly times I complained about or begrudged him that time away.  It's hard with little children to let your spouse leave one night a week for something that feels like an "extra".  But now can I tell you?  I've done a total 180.  Because it's one of the best things that's ever happened to our family.  It has become such a gift to give him that time away because when he comes back?  He comes back stronger, happier, and with a greater sense of purpose for himself and for our family.

A few years ago he and some other men started a weekly men's fellowship group.  Every week they meet to build each other up, to share each other's struggles, and to help each other be better men.  They pray the Rosary, they discuss whatever current book they are reading together, they have small group accountability, and they have time to just hang out.  This group has been invaluable to our family.  When I give my husband the small gift of a few hours every week to be with other men who want to be better husbands and fathers and sons of God, it is returned back to me tenfold in the changes I see in him and in the other families around us.  There is community building and it is a beautiful and exciting thing to be a part of.

Men need this.  Men need real friendship and I think a whole lot of them aren't getting it.  Our marriage suffered for a long time because Brian didn't have this.  We as wives need to realize that we are not enough for them.  And that's okay.  Men need to be able to be with other men who are fighting the same battles and seeking to be the men that God wants them to be.  I'm not talking about the buddy from high school that they meet for drinks every other month (though that's nice, too).  I'm talking real, solid, Christ-centered friendships that challenge them, support them, and call them on.  Friends that they can be completely real with.  They need friends who know what their struggles and sins are and help pull them out when they need to.  Just like we do.  Men, just like women, need to know they are not alone and they need accountability (separate from their wives) in living out and growing in virtue.  Just like we as women wouldn't be content with only the companionship of our husband and need true solid girlfriends, men also need that fellowship with other men.  I would venture to say that most of us stay at home moms get far more socialization and fellowship than our husbands ever do and yet we still somehow feel slighted when they need to take some time to do just that.

It's not always easy to give him this.  There are nights it's hard.  There are times I just feel selfish and want him to stay home and finish a project hang out on the couch and watch Downton but not only is the group helping him, he is helping them.  That's (usually) enough to pull me out of my self absorption and kick him out the door.  The group works because they all make the commitment to be there.  There are times, of course, when serious things come up and he can't make it but the men have made a commitment to each other and they do their best not to skip out on this time except for very good reason.  I don't know everything that goes on there.  The men are serious about confidentiality and trust.  I know the gist and the format of what they do and that is enough.  What is really helpful on a practical level (and in curbing the begrudging) is that they intentionally planned it later in the evening so that they could help get kids to bed before they go.

And it works.  We've seen so much fruit in our own family, enough that I hope and pray that every man out there find himself good, solid, and regular fellowship with other men for their own sake but also for the sake of their wives and children.  Heck, for the sake of our world.  And we wives need it, too.  We say we want strong husbands and fathers, men to be spiritual leaders of the home and yet we don't take any real action to get there, especially for men who didn't have that model growing up.  We somehow want them to just know what that means.

I guess my whole point of this post is to encourage you to encourage your husband to find fellowship.  They need it.  Your family needs it.  If your husband doesn't have this, pray that he finds it and when the rubber hits the road, encourage him to take that time away.  Of course, it doesn't have to be a formal group (though there are many reasons that is great) and once a week may be undoable for different families in different situations.  Find what works for your husband and for your family.   Supporting your husband in finding and maintaining real friendships with other men is important for his sake as well as for your whole family.  It can be so hard but it is so worth it.

(Plus, you'll end up not really missing that sideline Downton commentary. ;)

Brian asked me to let you know that if there are any guys out there wanting to get more details on how to start a group, to feel free to shoot us an email.  The group he is in is affiliated with a growing number of groups around the country and he'd be more than happy to help you out!

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  1. This is right on!! I could have written the same thing, except you put it way better than I could have.

  2. haha, ditto shannon. do people still say ditto? glad to have both your hubbies be a part of my hubby's life! especially when i am reading a book given to mike by dan, and even when mike comes home at 12:30am b/c he was talking to brian ;)

  3. Beautiful, how inspiring. I would so love that for my husband, I feel he needs it, I'll suggest it to him and if he is keen will email.

  4. This sounds awesome! I wish I could find a way for Andrew to find fellowship like this - we're just still in such a survival phase that I don't know how it could possibly work, particularly since he already has rehearsals two nights a week :( Maybe once this next baby is older?

    1. Yeah, I'm not sure if I could do it with twins plus if he's already gone twice a week! (Although my crazy friend Nicole up there? Her husband started the group with Brian when her twins (numbers 5 and 6!) were only a few weeks old!!! Because they're crazy. I would probably be in a straitjacket.) Seriously, pray for it and God will work something out.

  5. You are right. I absolutely begrudge my husband all the time he spends out with friends instead of home with us. I know I shouldn't. My biggest hang-up isn't the fact of him being gone, so much as that the group of guys he hangs with are all bachelors who live a pretty different lifestyle. When he goes out - on a worknight - he often doesn't get back until 2am or later, leaving me worrying. But your suggestion to pray about it is a great one - I hope he can find a group like the one your husband is involved with!

    1. Who they are with makes all the difference. It's still hard but if you know that they're with good, virtuous guys trying to be better husbands and fathers it totally changes it. I know there are many situations where the husband is leaving to hang with people who do the opposite or husbands who hang out at the bar way too frequently and that is NOT okay. But when you see the fruit of men building real Christ-centered fellowship both amongst themselves and within your family, it makes it so worth it. Yes, definitely pray for that!


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