I have loved him through the perfect, undefeated, state championship seasons, the heartbreak of great competitive losses, and the fickleness of high school athletics. After years of learning how to accept that he’s perfectly alright with doing NOTHING for literally H O U R S at a time except watching game after game, he began more than one morning of this holiday break with something like, “Babe, which of your projects would you like me to help you with today?”
My coach and I have a list of things we would love to be gifted when these holidays sneak up on us. So here is what you're really after: WHAT’S ON HIS LIST?
I hate this feeling of distance, like you're holding me at arms length, even if it's just to protect me. Protect me from issues at work. Protect me from hard stories. Protect me from the anxieties racing through your head.
This thought continued to nag me. Why do I care? Because he doesn’t care. He finds it completely wasteful. He doesn’t need anything, and neither do I. So why do I want one?? Am I really that worldly?
But maybe it’s not about the gift,. Maybe it’s more about what the gift represents.
Thank you for understanding it takes time to get all this. The schedule, the time away from home, modifying our parenting, social lives, hopes and dreams and everything in between—there were many lessons and routines that weren’t easy to come by.
Suddenly, I have a teammate. And this teammate wants a say in things. (The nerve.) I buck against this relinquishing of control every single year. I hold it close to my chest, tight-fisted, wondering why you don't trust me, why you don't respect me, thinking, "Don't you REALIZE I'm fully capable of doing this on my own? Don't you REALIZE I've been doing it on my own for months?"
There will be times that you may not fully understand my struggles. There will be times when the crazy feels too overwhelming. There will be times when you may not show us your love as well as I’d hoped, and vice versa. There will be times when you may feel like you aren’t giving your all. But the beauty of this is that good teammates don’t ever give up on each other.
What I do know is there will be many more days filled with tears as we drive away from the field. There will be many more missed moments and milestones that have to be sent to our coach via video. And there will be more days where 40 minutes is all we can get.
But there will be many more highs too.
Today is my husband’s first day of football camp, and I cannot help but get so excited thinking about this upcoming season. It is so easy for us to get wrapped up in the excitement of the beginning of the season, as we anxiously await the first game day. However, as coaches’ wives, we know this time of year brings much more to the table.
I often see coaches’ wives dread this time of year. The term “football widow” is even used to describe what we go through in the fall. A “football widow” often refers to a coach’s wife who must temporarily cope with the death of her relationship during football season.
To be entirely honest, I can assure you this will never be me, and my reasoning is as follows.
For one, when I married my husband, I knew that football was such a major part of his life (well, OUR life) as we had grown up together and football had played such a central role. Together, we have made it through roughly 12 football seasons (playing and coaching); so I knew that come July, his life gets busier, and much sweatier, as he spends countless hours in the hot sun for lifting, conditioning, camp, and two-a-days.
I knew that his dedication to his team would never waiver and that coaching football was something that would always be a part of our marriage.
With having two boys as well, I knew that football would likely forever be an essential part of our lives. Because of this, we plan. We know ahead of time that we typically are not home for dinner and that we have to eat on the fly. We know that our time is limited together throughout the week, so we make the most of our Sundays together. And we know that while times are busy, we have each other’s support, one hundred percent.
I never want my husband to feel like his family does not support his coaching. We are a team, and that team does not split because of other commitments.
And to be honest, football season draws us even closer. We stay up late talking about how practice went and which boys excelled that day. I help talk him through decisions if he needs an ear to utilize. And I help to reiterate how important his role is as a football coach and how much those boys look up to him.
Are there days when we get frustrated with each other and things go downhill? Absolutely. It would be unfair of me to pretend everything is smooth sailing all of the time. There are days when he comes home grouchy from a bad practice or an unexpected loss, but instead of allowing it to dictate the remainder of the day, I talk through it with him and make sure that he knows football does not stop at the door.
Every bit of his coaching life and his team are welcome in our home at any time. Not only is coach there to support these boys, but I am as well. It is my duty as a coach’s wife to support him and his team. I knew what I was getting into.
It is challenging, but it is also the most rewarding life there is. Seeing coach light up after a win and our boys cheering on their dad and the team is something that gives me an unexplainable amount of joy. Hearing those boys thank me for cupcakes will never get old and will only continue to assure me that this is the life we were destined for. This is our purpose.
So, I will never be a “football widow” because our relationship doesn’t ever die in the fall. In fact, it flourishes.
Football gives us life. And what a time to be alive…
But Coach, it’s important to remember that while she CAN independently handle the flat tires, collapsed pipes, and mice even when they happen all in the same week, the more she handles alone, the more she can begin to feel isolated.
This is part of marriage. It’s not as if one of you is choosing to only be 20% or 50% or whatever percent. The percentage may be dictated by what’s going on with your job, with your children, or with your family.
So I will take the hard because it means we haven’t given up; we’re still in the fight, still hanging on. It’s what gives us depth and makes the good times feel so good, the peaks feel so dang high. I’ll take it because I know whatever follows it will be worth it.
Because you, my love, will always be so worth it.
God can turn The Hard into grace, compassion, empathy, understanding. He can use it to sand away our sharp edges and turn the ugly parts, the broken parts, the crusty, calloused parts of our hearts and make them smooth again, not necessarily new, but better -- hearts that more closely resemble His own.
This love is not always exciting. It’s not always easy. It’s not always eager.
It’s never effortless.
But maybe focusing on what it isn’t, is missing the point. Because maybe what it IS, is better than all of those things.
It’s refining. It’s sanctifying. It’s life-altering and soul-saving. It’s sacrificing and persevering.
He knew many wouldn't understand the importance of his world, that this life was so much more than blowing whistles and running sprints and charting plays, so much more than a game. He knew he would need someone who got it, who understood that this was a mission field, plain and simple.
So God made a coach's wife.
We know coaches are a tough crowd this time of year. So to lighten your load, we thought we'd do the heavy lifting for you. We asked over 150 wives in the FNW Facebook group which Christmas gifts their coaches loved most and compiled a list of our 10 favorites to help you out this holiday season.
We talk for a while. They ask questions and hold my hand. They pray over me. And then they give me the best marriage advice I’ve ever received.
My husband began his career as a large high school’s Athletic Trainer and now serves as a middle school Athletic Coordinator. The high school in his cluster has many responsibilities given to their middle school coaches, including scouting trips, sideline responsibilities, game filming and more.
This year has been particularly challenging as the district opted to start a third football team for middle schools in both grade levels, adding another night when coaches stayed later and away from their families.
There were weeks when he had other responsibilities on top of just football, like PTA meetings and Meet the Teacher night. He tried to go cheer on other students at volleyball games and be a representative at Spirit Night fundraisers at local restaurants.
Sunday nights we usually had a calendar run down so I would know which nights we would even see each other before 9:00 pm.
Football season wears down even the strongest families as the weeks go on.
Months of telling your kids, “Daddy will be home after you go to bed, but you can give him hugs in the morning.” Making dinners while trying to help with homework and not just letting your kids zone out in front of the TV. (Trying, not always succeeding!) Happy conversations when his team wins and frustrated rants when something just isn’t clicking and they lose.
Every once in a blue moon, my husband will call me after an event has ended and just ask if I am okay with him grabbing some food and perhaps an adult beverage with another coach.
Here is where I want to share a magical piece of advice that a friend shared with me. She told me that when her husband would ask to go out with a friend, she would say yes unless there was a really big reason to say no.
“Save your no for when it really matters.”
I do appreciate that my husband is considerate enough to ask, and most of the time, it is already so late that all the kids are already in bed. Sure, I miss him and would appreciate some time for the two of us.
But I can also sense that when he asks for this extra time, it is because he needs to relax or build up a relationship with a fellow coach. Maybe they want to celebrate just making it through another week or maybe they want to talk X’s and O’s. I trust that the men that my husband hangs around are good guys and I don’t worry about what they are up to.
Plus, and here is the surprising best part, sometimes it doesn’t work out. There have been times when he texts me to check in, I say “Go for it,” and then he texts back to say that the other guys couldn’t go after all.
No criticism of their wives, because they may have had an exhausting night and really needed their husbands to get their booty back home. But then guess who still gets Wife Points for saying yes – Me!
My husband has learned that when I say no, it is because I genuinely need backup at home.
Maybe I am frantically trying to finish a school project that is due the next day, or I need him to pick up some groceries on the way home. There are plenty of legitimate reasons why it could be an “All Hands On Deck” evening at our casa.
The point is that we have that understanding between us. We respect that there are times when friends can refill your emotional tank, and as football season comes to an end I will try to schedule more of those opportunities for myself too.
It can be really tempting to be greedy of my husband’s time when I feel like it is already in such short supply this time of year.
However, the years have taught me that a coaching staff with great camaraderie is a special thing that can make the seasons better. If an occasional night out is one way to keep it going, I am going to try to say yes.
I am going to save my “Heck no!” for the night when I am up to my elbows in craziness, and then thank my husband for coming to my rescue.
Are you a coach’s wife? Join our online community and connect with other coaches’ wives in the same season as you.
As I write this, we are coming up for air from a two or three week rut.
Nothing huge forces us into the ditch. We just slowly lose our concentration and drift out of center, ignoring the rumble strips of silence and busyness. Sometimes we sit there for a while before either of us look up and recognize where we are. Sometimes one of us feels it before the other. Sometimes we both feel it but don’t put forth the energy we know it will require to get out of it.
A few years ago, Clark and I hit what some might call a rough patch. And by rough patch, I mean a whole field full of 30-grit sandpaper. We were dealing with some really big, really ugly stuff that forced us to man-up pretty quickly and start taking responsibility for our crap, not to mention our newborn child.
We found ourselves in a place in which I NEVER THOUGHT WE WOULD BE. Don’t get me wrong, I knew we were destined, as are all marriages, to experience occasional valleys, but THIS, this was not your average valley. And THIS, this doesn’t happen to people like US.
Our marriage had the makings of white picket fences and summer family mission trips and bible class teachers and dozens of smiling, frolicking children in the backyard (It’s okay if you want to gag. I kinda do, too.). We were products of solid homes, with parents that loved each other deeply and raised us well. Our fathers were both elders at our churches, our mothers both stay-at-home-moms/teachers. When we started dating, the question was never “if” but “when” the wedding would take place. We were, well, perfect for each other.
But shockingly, the enemy wasn’t intimidated by our marriage resumé. And now I know, the moment you believe your marriage is immune to big problems is the moment it becomes vulnerable to big problems.
I was convinced we would never struggle.
Then all of a sudden, there we were, two-freaking-years into this thing and practically underwater.
The next several months we fought the darkness with as much light as we could grab. When we started that fight, I was about 78% sure it would end badly, but with a lot of outside help, we made it through. And it was hard, but at the same time not. God had urged us toward good people, and good people make hard things much less hard.
The Benefits of Good People
About a year later, I was at the library with Charlee when I saw a family friend at the check-out counter. We weren’t especially close, but he’d known me since I was a child through my other family members. We waved at each other before he motioned me over.
“I just wanted to show you something,” he said, as he reached into his front pocket. He pulled out a small journal and began flipping through the pages, searching for something. When he found what he was looking for, he turned it around and pointed to three words: Clark and Jordan.
I looked at the context around our names, recognizing it only as a list at first, then realizing it was his list of prayer requests.
“I’ve been praying for the two of you everyday.”
Everyday. He didn’t even know us all that well, but he’d been committed to praying for us everyday for a year because he knows that PRAYER WORKS. And I know dozens of other family members and close friends that had also been praying for us because they, too, know that PRAYER WORKS.
We have a new marriage now. We know now that we are just as susceptible to destruction as the rest of the world, which makes us love each other even harder, with greater intention and greater effort. We are on guard against the enemy, because we know how deceptive and manipulative he is now more than ever.
I wholeheartedly believe the prayers that went up on our behalf, and those we ourselves offered, were heard and answered in ways I couldn’t have dreamed. Since then, I’m always committing to pray daily for the two of us, but I just really suck at it. I will, for several days at a time, and then won’t for several more (many more) days and then I will for a couple days again and so on.
Here’s what I know: when Clark and I are operating out of a place of God-centeredness, we click. When we operate out of a place of self-centeredness, we crumble. And that crumbling is felt in many other areas of our lives.
I Put Together a Month of Prayers
Here’s the low-down:
- The prayers are SHORT. Like, read-it-while-you-brush-your-teeth short.
- Each day will focus on a different facet of marriage: selflessness, parenting, finances,communication, etc. (there are LOTS of aspects of marriage that could use some Jesus, amen?).
- The prayers are unisex, so feel free to read the prayers aloud together (but no pressure if that sounds like a terribly awkward idea right now).
- Some awesomely talented fellow writers graciously offered some wise words on marriage. Their posts are linked within the coinciding prayer.
To buy the eBook, head over to Amazon and get it for less than $5.