“One of the most beautiful things about the way God designed marriage is that when we love our partners as Jesus modeled, we reflect Christ’s love and heart to each other every day. Sacrificial love in marriage is a two-way street. ” Lessons from the Sidelines
Sadly, in the past twenty years, I have watched engagements and marriages end over affairs at almost every Christian college and public high school where my husband has coached. But, my awareness of coaches involved in affairs and/or abusing their positions of leadership did not just begin when I married a coach.
It might be easy to brush away these personal examples of failed leadership if it wasn’t for the public outings of football coaches Les Miles, Major Applewhite, Bobby Petrino, Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, along with basketball coaches Tic Price and Pokey Chapman (yes female coaches cheat too).
Of course, infidelity is far from restricted to the coaching world. Couples Bill and Melinda Gates and Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott divorced citing infidelity. Both men cheated on their wives. Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, more politicians on both sides of the aisle than this article will allow me to list, and of course, there are the religious leaders.
Ravi Zacharias, Bill Hybels, and Carl Lentz were the most disappointing names for me, but many of you may remember the Houston Chronicle report that reported the conviction of 220 church leaders who were finally held accountable for abusing over 700 victims over 20 years.
Why Am I Writing About Infidelity?
One of the ways I support Friday Night Wives includes posting anonymous questions sent in from coaches’ wives. Anyone is allowed to submit a question via a form in our private community and it is truly 100% anonymous. Since beginning this in 2018 I’ve read numerous questions asking for prayer for marriage strain, but over the last two years, wives have become more transparent.
On average, once a month Friday Night Wives admin receives a message from a wife sharing that she believes her marriage is over. Many times, she has caught wind of an affair and is grappling with how to move forward. Other times coaches’ wives have discovered enough signs of an affair that they are gathering the courage to confront their spouses.
And, even if infidelity isn’t the cause of the wedge within a coaching marriage, the commonly mentioned culprits are:
- Isolation and loneliness
- Loss of self-identity
- Feeling overwhelmed with how much of the burden they are asked to carry alone
Marriage is a Partnership
The one thing that’s a commonality with all the names I’ve listed above is the public nature of their roles along with their leadership positions. I believe this adds an extra layer of stress for wives in some situations. The last thing we want to do is negatively impact our husband’s careers by speaking negatively about them. But, I believe that the devil uses this to drive a deeper division in our relationships.
1 John 1:6-7 says,
“If we claim to have fellowship with him (God) and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (NIV)
Pastors often use the analogy of a 3-strand cord from Ecclesiastes 4:12 in marriage ceremonies. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (NIV) Most scholars agree that King Solomon was referring to the value of the working relationship but regardless of the type of relationship we are discussing the point remains: accountability, partnership, and participation are vital.
It is loving and generous of wives to protect their husband’s reputations even while in the middle of a crisis. But, it may not be what is best for both partners in the marriage.
Coaches’ Wives You Deserve to Thrive in Your Marriage
Ultimately, my prayer for every marriage is wholeness and healing where both spouses thrive in their God-given calling. But no one can make that decision on behalf of another couple. What we can do is offer prayer and resources.
So, coaches’ wives, while we are grateful you trust us to pray for your marriages here at Friday Night Wives, I also wanted to offer you more concrete resources if you’re facing a moment like those mentioned above.
- Find a Church - Even if you’ve never walked in the doors before, many churches offer free, confidential counseling. We continue to highlight as many resources as possible by the community on our Community Resources page (including churches!) Make sure your pastoral counseling is committed to supporting both of you in the marriage.
- Online Counseling counts too and many are covered by insurance:
- BetterHelp: Best overall
- Regain: Best for couples
- TalkSpace: Best for accepting insurance
- Online-Therapy.com: Best for cognitive behavioral therapy
- Calmerry: Best for flexible plans
- Find a safe friend and ask for support as you move forward however you decide is best. Even if your friend lives in another town it’s important to talk to someone who knows your history.
- Journal – Writing out your thoughts will help you process them differently. If you’re willing, you can also write your prayers or check out the Thrive Write the Word Journal.
- Consider Reading a book for perspective – Sacred Marriage, Love is a Decision, The Path Between Us, and 31 Prayers for the Coach’s Wife
- Seek out your local FCA or AIA chapters and ask to speak with a team leader.
Above all, know that you are seen. When you ache, we ache. We’re cheering you on as you fight for your marriage. And, we’re always willing to pray with you. Because you friend, you should not settle for simply surviving in the coaching life. We want to see you thrive as a coach’s wife and in your marriage.