On Being SAHM When Your Husband is Gone … A Lot {Part 2}

Some thoughts on being a stay at home mom when your husband travels. | IntentionalByGrace.com

This post is part of our motherhood series. You can see all the posts in this series here.

I’m not a military wife. However, I am a wife with a husband who travels a lot for business. On average, my husband travels once a week for at least a night or two. Sometimes my son and I go with him, but most of the time we’re back home eagerly awaiting his return.

Like Nikki who shared last week about her husband deploying during the birth of their youngest, I’m back home running the show when my husband takes multiple business trips.

I administer all the discipline, prepare all the meals, change every diaper, bring out every laugh, cause every tear, kiss every boo-boo, and head up every family devotion.

While my husband is gone, I also have to manage to find time to work because you still expect a post, emails need to be sent, and a client needs an invoice.

It is exhausting, often times overwhelming, and always a plea for mercy and grace.

But you know what? The above is not my biggest challenge.

If I’m honest, I can manage quite well by this point because we’re used to it, and we have a routine.

I also know that God has gifted me for this purpose, and I’m grateful for a husband who works his tail off to bring home the bacon so I can stay home with my baby.

However, it’s the switch that I struggle with. What switch you ask?

The one where I’m all things at all times while my husband is away, and then, when he returns he’s back as head of the home – administering the discipline, changing some diapers, taking out the trash, planning our weekends, etc.

When he’s away, I don’t have to worry about romance, making his lunch, or just listening to him as he shares about his day.

That switch from one to the other is incredibly difficult for me to turn on and off. It’s a heart orientation, an inclination to follow my husband, and a vulnerability that’s difficult for me when I’m just trying to survive the days he’s gone.

I can easily get caught up in self protection and administrative tasks that I fail to even relate with my husband while he is at home! If I’m not careful, my heart will begin to believe that we’re two different people, living two different lives.

But mamas, we can’t let this happen! We are one with our husbands whether they are home or away. <–Tweet This!

John Piper tells the story of his childhood as one where Daddy was gone two thirds of the year and mama was home taking care of business.

She taught me how to cut the grass and splice electric cord and pull Bermuda grass by the roots and paint the eaves and shine the dining-room table with a shammy and drive a car and keep French fries from getting soggy in the cooking oil. She helped me with the maps in geography and showed me how to do a bibliography and work up a science project on static electricity and believe that Algebra II was possible. She dealt with the contractors when we added a basement and, more than once, put her hand to the shovel. It never occurred to me that there was anything she couldn’t do. {Source}

But even though Daddy was away, John Piper tells us the minute Daddy returned it was clear he was the head of the household. {Source}

Is it clear when Daddy returns to my home, he is the head of the household?

This is the switch that I find incredibly hard to turn on and off. But it is through my awareness of my tendency to harden my heart against my husband that I can begin to fight by the grace of God.

The truth is it’s not my husband’s fault he is away. It’s part of the job he has been given by the Lord. And this job, this circumstance, was completely ordained by God for us, for our good and for His glory.

So today, ask yourself, if you’re a mama of a traveling man, when my husband returns to the nest, is it clear he is the head of our home?

Update: My husband quit his job. You can read about it here.

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  1. This was a great article on sharing how we moms feel with a hubby that travels in this way – in and out multiple times per month. I have the same, but have never been able to put my finger on how it feels going from one extreme and then the other with him coming home. I would love some tips on how to make this transition a little smoother too!

    1. Susan, thanks for your comment. I certainly have such a hard time going back and forth. I’ve found when we are in the rhythm of travel is easier. It’s when he gets to stay home for a while and when it starts back up, I’m a mess. I do think it’s mostly grace and a reliance upon the Source of all strength. I will think on the tips, but my #1 that comes to mind is to stay in the word (immerse yourself) while he’s gone. I can truly tell a difference when I’m leaning into the Lord and when I’m not.

    1. Jenni, I can completely relate. My husband, whom I dearly love, also works very long hours (14 – 18 hrs) every day, sometimes six days a week. When he is home, he is often tired and a lot of the times distracted. I feel as if I have completely raised our teenaged kids (whom I homeschool) alone, which in the past left me feeling sad and resentful. When he does step in to be the head of our home, I have a very hard time stepping aside. Ironically, I pray every day that God would turn my husband’s heart towards home. Now I am convicted that I have only added to him being gone so much and pushed him away from being the head of our home because I have been too un-submissive and because I was un-welcoming with feelings of resentment and sadness. (I am not implying that you have done this, just sharing my own experience.) I am thankful that my Savior has taught me to take my thoughts captive into the obedience of Christ and helped me to overcome those negative feelings by thinking on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise. Now I humbly pray that in addition to Him turning my husband’s heart towards home, that He would soften me and prepare me and enable me to be his help-meet for when God causes this to happen in His time and in His way. I hope for this, but if it does not ever happen, I am learning to be content with knowing my God will meet all my needs. May He strengthen us and be our portion!

  2. Great post! This is something I learned well as a wife to a traveling husband as I also watched my mom do it with my dad while I was growing up. I make a huge deal about him coming home each weekend and the couple days he is in town we plan to do family outings and I try to resist the urge to go out to eat so he can have a home cooked meal. Hardest part about it is my house becomes thrashed and my dishes pile up when he is home! I taught my daughter how to point at the sky and say “Airplane daddy!”

  3. Thank you for this post! I too deal with this, as my husband travels often for work. I struggle with the role switches as well, and to be honest, I really don’t do a great job of it. I am the chief in command all-day, every day and sometimes many nights as well when he is on the road. Like you said, we have developed a routine and being that I am the main source of discipline in our house, my girls have come to know this and I find it difficult to bite my tongue when he does things “differently” than what we are used to. It can be tough to wear all the hats much of the time, then sometimes have to hand over some of those hats we are so used to balancing! This is really convicting to me, as I need to do a better job of putting my hubby back in charge of our home when he is home.

    1. Steph, thanks for sharing because I want you to know you are not alone. I struggle tremendously in this area, and it is a constant battle for me. Knowing “the right answers” and “doing the right thing” is two totally different things. But as we strive to follow God’s call and commands, I believe He will give us both grace to change! Thanks so much for sharing. There is hope in the Gospel, my friend!

  4. I can so, so relate. It’s becoming easier but there have definitely been times where no, it wasn’t clear. I found that when I’m really intentional about spending the time apart thinking about ways I can be a better wife to him and spending LOTS of time studying God’s word, the switch is so much more pleasant. It can be hard to fit those things in when there’s already so much to juggle, but it’s so worth it.

    1. Kylie, I agree totally! I find it harder to be in the Word when my hubby is gone because I’m exhausted and want to catch a few extra moments of sleep. But it’s makes such a difference when I’m in constant communion with my Father. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I appreciate this post. My husband travels a lot for his current job. He has in the past worked nights, weird shifts, and way too much manditory overtime (think 65ish hour weeks). I have had to work on myself a lot, and let God work on me, to be able to deal with this. Thanks!