Yesterday I took the kids on a trip to a railroad museum, and the first person I saw when we walked in was a woman I had met several months ago. At that point, we had spent something like an hour talking, as she has a large family and was beginning homeschooling. As soon as she saw me, she came over and hugged me, and I ask her how things were going with homeschooling.
She told me that she’s exhausted, that she’s homeschooling literally from 8 am to 10 pm (for 5 kids plus a toddler) seven days a week. I suggested that she might have taken on an overly intensive curriculum (it is – I warned her about the strong likelihood for burnout when she told me she wanted to use it) and she might want to consider making some adaptations to take the pressure off herself. But she reassured me that she loved learning with her kids in this way, and it was just hard because there was familial discord. I asked what that meant. It turns out that she and dh are having a hard time getting along, and the night before she told him she wanted him to move out.
Was this something recent, I was wondering? No, it’s been like that for four years and now she just can’t take it anymore. He is too negative and needy of her time and she just can’t spend that kind of time with him because all her energy is going into homeschooling the kids.
I think that too often we as moms get so busy taking care of our homes and children that we forget what position in our lives the relationship with our husbands should be. There is nothing more important than a strong relationship between husbands and wives, for the two spouses and for the children. That relationship needs to be the priority, even above our children. Do you know how secure it makes a child feel to live in a home and know his parents truly love and care for one another? Especially in today’s climate where so many of his friends’ parents are divorcing, and he doesn’t have to worry that one day he’ll end up split between two homes.
I’ve heard too many wives make not such joking comments about their husbands being like another child to take care of. Husbands do have needs, emotional and physical needs. So do wives – that doesn’t make any of us child-like; it makes us human. Marriage is about giving to the other person, not about demanding that someone else be what we want them to be and squeeze into a tiny corner of our life and hearts. Minimizing our husbands because we’ve become caught up in the demands of our busy lives and expecting them to live an emotionally independent life isn’t reasonable. It’s taking them for granted and being disrespectful and emotionally cruel. When men expect this of women, we all rush to condemn them in outrage. But when women complain of husbands who take up ‘too much’ of their time, other women cluck their tongues in sympathy and then go on to share their ‘jokes’ about their own impossibly needy husbands.
This woman had to leave our conversation rather suddenly before we had a chance to finish because her young child needed the bathroom. What I wanted to tell her was, don’t make homeschooling your children more important than your husband. Don’t make him feel like he doesn’t matter in his own home. Yes, the reasons she chose to homeschool her children are important – I love homeschooling and am passionate about the many benefits, but even providing your children with those benefits doesn’t justify letting your marital relationship break down for lack of nurturing.