All I Want for Christmas … Is to Not be a Coach’s Wife Anymore
It’s not often that I start a post and my eyes well up with tears but that was certainly the case this time.
I’m closing in on two decades as a coach’s wife and darn it if I am still not plagued by this thought sometimes and it hurts. A lot. The fabric of a coach’s wife is often made up of very stern stuff. We are typically independent, deeply loyal, supportive, and sacrificial toward the people in our lives. We understand our husband’s job as a calling, as a passion to change the lives of the young people in his care. We. Get. It.
That’s why, when the thought of not wanting the coach’s wife life sneaks into our minds we often hide from it, or feel guilty, or only mention it out loud in prayer or to a couple of very close friends.
If you are a coach’s wife who has ever thought, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” I need you to know that you are not alone.
You, my friend, are in the company of thousands of wives who have thought that very thing. It doesn’t mean you aren’t loyal. It doesn’t mean you aren’t supportive and it definitely, definitely does not mean you are a “bad” coach’s wife.
It means you are normal. And human. And loved … by the rest of us here in this strange little community of coaching.
It just means this life is really hard, so hard sometimes that the compassion in you wants to protect your little piece of the world from the crazy.
The holidays are a time when this thought can become particularly persistent. For off-season families like ours I am struck by the difference in our lives when my husband is home. I remember how much I like him and how much I enjoy watching him with our children, and I begin to dream about what it would be like if he were able to be around all year.
For the champion in-season wives, each holiday is hugged closely by practice schedules and tournament dates. Efforts to have a “normal” schedule are often flipped upside down. It’s a time when family and friends may offer even more questions about why you or your coach aren’t able to be at certain events.
And so we begin to wonder, what if we weren’t a coaching family anymore? What if we got to have lengthy, leisurely holidays like so many other people I know? What if, what if…
Sweet sister, if this is you or has been you, I hope I can offer you a few tips to help you get through these times because they come. Sometimes more often than not, but they do come.
1. Give yourself permission to think these thoughts without judgment. We usually want out of this life when things are hard, not when we are holding a trophy. Embed in your heart the statement, “This is a normal way to feel when things are difficult.” That is going to be much more productive than shame.
2. Remember that feelings aren’t facts. Just because you have this thought doesn’t mean you necessarily want to abandon ship. Give yourself time to consider what is driving this thought. Pay attention to whether or not this is a persistent feeling or if it comes and goes with the highs and lows of coaching.
3. Identify if any of the driving forces behind these thoughts are “fixable.” Most of the time when I want “off the bus” I feel a lot better quickly by attending to my self-care, communicating with my husband, etc.
4. This is a hard one but we have to consider that the thought may be legitimate. We are not all “lifers” and some families really do get called on to other things … administration, other careers, who knows. We must be careful not to idolize a lifestyle for its own sake. God uses people in lots of way.
5. Use your tribe. Find other wives, even if it is only in this online community and ask for support, advice, prayer. We have all been there and we know how hard it is to do this life.
6. Talk to your coach. Tell him how you are feeling. You are not only telling him that sometimes you don’t want this life, you are probably also telling him that you love him, that you love his passion, that you don’t want to take him away from the thing that he loves but you are hurting. Remember ladies, they are coaches, they specialize in game planning and fixing problems. My guess is he may have some ideas on how to make this better for both of you.
7. Spend some time “gratituding” about the coaching life. There are some unique positives to this life that we would not have anywhere else … it’s just hard to remember sometimes.
8. Remember, again, that you are not alone. Coaches’ wives, pastors’ wives, military wives, doctors’ wives, first responders … any wife with a husband who has a job that comes before family is part of us. So often we suffer alone. Even if we aren’t speaking to one another directly, we can gain strength thinking about the other women who stand tall in our same shoes every day.
You are loved. You are normal. You are a coach’s wife.
Anne is an author, speaker, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist and veteran coaches wife. She and her husband Tim have two children and they have been a coaching family through a state championship run and very difficult losing seasons. They are passionate about encouraging coaching families both in and out of season.