Sometimes “standing by your man” can be unbelievably difficult. Even Tammy Wynette knew it back in 1968. However, as her famous lyrics stated, you can indeed “show the world you love him . . . keep giving all the love you can . . . stand by your man.”
Whether your husband is the pastor of a church, a board member, a Sunday School teacher, or even the owner of a small business in the community, he has an invisible bulls-eye on his back.
There will be times when the whole family is under attack by Satan. Those are the times our husbands need a steady, mature helpmate, not a hysterical, over-emotional little girl. Those are the times when our faith is tested.
In contrast, those are also the times when spiritual growth takes place. Our reaction to difficulties can support or weaken our husband and his leadership. Eventually someone or some thing will attack him and when that happens it will be our time to shine. Like Tammy said, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.
Several wives of men in leadership, church and secular, were surveyed about the attacks they’ve witnessed, how they dealt with the situations and how, in retrospect, they wished they’d handled themselves. These wise women are willing, no – eager, to share their experiences, lessons and hopefully keep other wives from making the same mistakes they’ve made during adversities.
When Sandra’s husband lost his job at a large engineering firm, it seemed that everyone had advice for them. Many couldn’t understand why he didn’t get a job at McDonald’s while he was looking for something in his profession. The arrows began to fly. Sandra graciously listened to the opinions and the unasked-for advice and softly told their many “counselors” that he was doing God’s business and seeking God’s will. They didn’t seem to understand that it takes time to get before the Lord and hear answers to difficult questions. They apparently forgot that writing, e-mailing and faxing resumes, visiting companies and making follow-up phone calls all take time. However, Sandra spoke softly and respectfully, even when it didn’t come naturally, even when it hurt.
Michelle and Beth both had to watch their husbands endure attacks from family members. Mixing business and family can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. Michelle was devastated as she watched her husband’s relative go from a recipient of their love and benevolence to the plaintiff in a court case against them and their family business.
Similarly, Beth endured the pain of watching a family member take advantage of her husband in their family business. Consistently dipping into the money pot and sidestepping the IRS eventually caught up with her brother-in-law and, ultimately, hurt her own family. For many years, she held her husband up through battle after battle. His refusal to confront his brother frustrated her. (Tammy sang it—sometimes men do things we don’t understand.)
The largest struggle for both Beth and Michelle was learning to keep their mouths shut. As women, we want to talk over the situation – and over and over and over. Learning to not speak about it unless their husbands wished to discuss it, and then to be good listeners, was a tough but invaluable lesson.
Trudi, Becky and Tina are all married to men who are teachers and principals in education, where attacks come from all sides. Parents feel teachers are too strict, co-workers feel they aren’t strict enough, and the administration just wants everyone to get along, often backing the parents for fear of litigation.
They have each been in the center of conflicts where students tell stories to their parents who believe their every word because, surely you should know, their children never lie!
For these educators, not having the support of the school board can be devastating, leaving them to feel alone on the battlefield. Being a sounding board for their husbands, offering positive comments, being a cheerleader with unwavering support, are lessons learned through years of ongoing stress in this volatile field.
Is the ministry different? Although Christians often feel that if only they could be leaders in the religious community, their lives would be smoother, sadly that is rarely the case. Tomorrow I will introduce you to three wives with husbands in church leadership. They will share their practical advice that would make even Tammy Wynette proud.