You see, my husband is a high school football coach, and he’s been married to the game for a really, really, long time. They were a thing long before he and I were a thing. And when we started dating, I had to come to terms with the rules of engagement.
Because when you pray to God, you are also praying to the Holy Spirit who is living inside your husband. I promise, it/he/she/that spirit will do a much better job of leading him than your frustration ever will.
You'll realize that to do it the right way, to be the best possible coach's wife (and person), the one that the community and school deserve, it's going to cost you a piece of your heart.
Give it time. You are going to fall more and more in love with this life than you ever knew was possible.
As another season is upon us, many couples are working out their roles in a new staff or, like us, have experienced a change in family dynamic (thank God our babies were actually born in the off-season).
To the head coaches and their wives: I beg of you to consider your staff. Each member.
QUESTION FROM NEWBIE WIFE
How do I deal with being home all the time by myself with just the dog?? I’m going crazy!!!
Going Stir Crazy
ANSWERS FROM VETERAN COACHES WIVES
Dear Going Stir Crazy,
Figuring out large amounts of time by yourself is a hallmark of the coaching life. When I was sans-kids I filled it with being in control of the remote, working out, and connecting with friends. When we had kids, I found other women who had coach/pastor/farmer/doctor/police husbands who also had weird hours. These women helped me remember that coach’s wives are not the only ones who deal with this. There will be days in your future when you’ve finally adjusted and may find yourself craving time alone when the husband, dog, and/or kids are home. It’s a season of life. Enjoy that puppy and all the interests you can pursue on your own until it changes!
Your Fellow Social Bug
Dear Going Stir Crazy,
Even though your letter was written when it was more difficult to get out and about we know that loneliness isn’t something that goes away just because shopping is more accessible. On paper, it sounds wonderful to have your days to yourself to read, exercise, and chip away at your bucket list. But, in reality, you can only clean your kitchen counters so often and your bucket list isn’t all that fun to chip away at by yourself.
You haven’t offered many details, so we aren’t sure if the hours you’re referring to are all through the day or after your workday is complete. Certainly, this will impact the number of hours you will want to fill each day, however, I want to encourage you to make sure you not to OVERfill your days. Soon enough the time will come where you will want to spend a lazy weekend with your coach before the next season is in full force again. Regardless, I’ve learned that it’s best to look at the empty calendar space as an opportunity rather than a burden.
For those weeks when the calendar is looking empty and you know you’re going to feel like climbing the walls try sticking to a routine. Create a plan that includes a list of things that need to get done as well as some fun things you want to do. Is there a new store you’ve been meaning to explore? Take time to grab a coffee and check it out one afternoon.
If you have a lot of extra time on your hands seize the day! Do you love photography? Check out the local park district or community college to see when the next photography classes are offered. You will sharpen your skills and keep yourself busy doing something you enjoy. As a bonus, you’ll be around people who also enjoy the same hobby!
If all else fails, bake some cookies for the team. They will love it and your coach will know you’re thinking about him while he’s on the field.
Every Season is an Adventure, Embrace it!
Do you have a question?
You know what? Nobody's life is perfect. If you realize that now, you will save yourself much anxiety, pain, and stress. During season, schedules are crazy, nights get late, and your home will most likely become a mess. As a recovering perfectionist, this is something that freaked me out . . . especially early on in the season.
You do not have to do this coaches’ wife thing alone. There are many who have walked before you, and there are many who walk alongside your journey. Embrace your title; it’s part of your calling.
It may be bittersweet, but sometimes change opens up a whole new happiness for you that you weren’t anticipating.
It’s Monday, and we’re answering another question in our Veteran Coach’s Wife series.
QUESTION FROM NEWBIE WIFE
Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife,
This is my husband’s first year coaching. I truly think he is having a hard time balancing time with the team & time at home. I am home 9/10 times by myself each night. The nights he is home, he isn’t fully at home. He comes in and lays on the couch, doesn’t help with the household chores, & just complains about being tired. He has no idea how I feel & every time I try to discuss it with him he makes me feel like the bad guy. I am overwhelmed, exhausted, lonely & just depressed. We are a long way from family & every morning I wake up wanting to live near my parents again so I’m not home alone all the time. How can I get him to understand that he needs to learn there is a time for sports and a time for home? And when he’s at home, he needs to be fully there?
Lonely and Exhausted
ANSWERS FROM VETERAN COACHES WIVES
Dear Lonely and Exhausted,
I could have written a similar letter a few times in our marriage. Coaching can certainly be an all-consuming profession. Especially if your husband is working with a head coach who requires a lot of hours or is trying to prove themselves as a first-time head coach. I know it’s an odd year and a lot of life is just starting to open back up. That seems to be complicating things in some states. I want to encourage you to try to use your short-term moments of independence to focus on something you’ve been putting off.
If you’ve wanted to explore a new hobby or take a college course now is the time to fill that calendar with things you’re interested in for you! Have you had a chance to explore the community? Are there evening classes through the local Y or park district that seem interesting? Don’t hesitate. There are so many online options these days between Craftys.com and Masterclass.com that you don’t even need to leave your house to dive into a new interest.
After the season, take time to talk about what did and DID NOT work the previous months. When you both have the emotional and mental bandwidth to talk about solutions to connect during the season you’ll both feel heard.
You ARE seen and heard,
Dear Lonely and Exhausted,
We fell into the trap that coach always being gone was just part of the job. We both accepted it as gospel and didn’t even think to question it. Coach felt as the new guy or the young one that he had to prove himself, be in before the head coach and not leave until he was gone, and he said yes to anything and everything that was asked of him. And I knew no different. It wasn’t until we started a family that I began to push back, but by then we were set in that difficult to break pattern. Communication was key. While I wasn’t always kind or eloquent about it, once I started asking if it was necessary for the program or just busywork, did it need to get done ASAP or could it wait, change started to happen.
Coach was very defensive in the beginning, but I realized it was out of guilt and not a lack of caring. While it definitely depends on the head coach and time of year, coach learned to work smarter, not harder. With life changes (new baby or job change), we’ve had to continually communicate and adjust. I’ve had to accept that there were just some things he couldn’t get out of and he’s had to learn that there just some things that weren’t a dire priority. Now that he’s a head coach, he extends the courtesy of reasonable flexibility that we wish we had (or at least felt comfortable asking for) to his assistants.
I’ve also noticed how big of a role nutrition plays in coach’s energy level. There will be no changing the fact that he gives it his all, but for him to have any left over for home life, better nutrition is key. I’m talking a lot less processed foods and more real, whole foods and not necessarily a type of diet. It will be a lot of work initially, but once it becomes a habit, it’s worth every second.
Do you have a question?
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.
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.
I can promise you I will go wherever you go, stay wherever you stay, and your people will be my people. I will put in the extra work to get our family settled and make the new place feel like home. I will be open and flexible to wherever this journey takes us.
I can’t promise you I won’t doubt it, complain about it and/or be about upset it. I can’t promise that the thought of having to start over again won’t frustrate me. I also won’t be able to stay off of Zillow, searching for houses, even with only a mention of a potential job opening.
If you give a coach a scrap of paper, he’s going to want a pen.
When you give the coach the pen, he will draw a play on that scrap paper.
After he draws the play, he is probably going to want a chair to sit down and think about it.
But nothing and I mean nothing, would get my goat like that handsome, brown-eyed man pointing his finger at me, raising his voice to that disappointed, irritated coach tone and speak condescendingly to me like I just ran the wrong route even after we drilled and drilled it in practice.
It was there, with my metaphorical house stripped to bare studs, that I realized I had built it with all the wrong things.
I started over with the basics, faith became the groundwork on which everything was rebuilt. Finding a church community and reading God’s Word was the first step.
From there, I began to realize how grace (grace for coach, this lifestyle, and most importantly myself) was necessary as the support beams. It allowed me to have the patience I needed to get through the day, the season, the storm.
So, while it is important to cheer for others, don’t forget to treat yourself the way you treat others. Give yourself grace, recognize that perfection isn’t the goal, and don’t ever give up.
Note to the Reader: To read the first part of Crystal’s story read I Married a Black Coach; This is My Story
As coach wives, we support our Coach through the plethora of emotions that come along with coaching. We listen when he comes home at an ungodly hour venting about a frustrating practice. We are a springboard for new ideas on drills or plays. We console him after a tough loss.
We put Coach in check when he needs a dose of reality, and we get the privilege of sharing with him the many, many joys of this profession. The words and actions that I provide for my coach in most situations are, I am guessing, similar to those that every other coach wife presents to her over-worked sweetheart. However, in some situations, I have found myself at a loss of how to provide my Black Coach with the support he needs, specifically where jobs are concerned.
Throughout our journey together in coaching (he’s been in the game for a while but I’m a new-ish coach wife), there have been a few, distinct times when I could clearly see that Coach needed support from me, but I just did not know what to say or do.
What am I supposed to say when he tells me that we can’t take that job because that community isn’t accepting of interracial relationships? Or, that he isn’t even sending in his resume to certain places because he has heard that Black coaches don’t get a fair shakedown there when it comes to upward mobility?
And, let me be clear, it’s not like he was trying to replace Dabo or Saban, ya’ll. We are talking about logical, practical, qualified career choices that he was opting out of simply because of the color of his skin.
What do I say to that?
How do I respond?
Do I encourage him to ignore the prejudice and go hard after his dreams?
Or do I listen to and trust in his wisdom where racial issues are concerned?
(After all, as a white woman, my knowledge and experience on this topic are quite limited).
I have been stunned, and frustrated, and angered, and hurt watching my Coach navigate through this bigotry that, I am guessing, white coaches do not have to experience because, you know…privilege. There is really no other way to describe it.
As always, I am speaking solely from my own experiences and observations, nothing else. I am not claiming that my experiences are true for all, but they are definitely true for me and my Coach. Supporting my husband is part of what I am called to do as his wife and as his partner. For me, learning to support him through racial issues that are intertwined with his passion, his mission, and his calling is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.
After two moves and two kids under two, I finally decided that something needed to change. And if it wasn’t going to be his job, and if it wasn’t going to be our marriage, then that left only one thing—me.
These are the things that helped provide that change.