Guest blog by Julie Fidler
For four years, my husband worked full-time with disturbed and often violent children while going to college online. A few months ago, he marched in his cap and gown, and today his degree arrived – physical proof of his dedication, hard work and strength.
We don’t have any kids of our own, so he didn’t have to worry about not spending not enough time with them, or wrestling with the guilt of watching me do most of the parenting while he tried to knock out his group project or finish up that last PowerPoint slide. But he was being beat up at work. No, literally. We had a lot of emergency room visits last year when he students went on the attack.
It’s hard to get a degree when you’re miserable at your job. It’s even harder when your job leaves you hobbling around on crutches or wrapped up in bandages all the time. My sweet husband dealt with all of that, along with chronic illness, a couple of cancer scares, severe stomach issues, and depression.
I think I must be married to Superman.
I always knew he had it in him, but I’ll be honest: I was afraid that the combination of all those things would knock the determination out of him. When is enough, enough? When is it all too much? When would I, the concerned wife, have to put my foot down and tell him to slow down or just plain stop? I gave up on painting my nails a long time ago, ladies. Sometimes I survived the chaos by chewing them down to nubs!
I had the good fortune of being able to read most of For Women Only before it was even a book. That’s another story for another day, but God used it to save my marriage. I know I’m a little bit biased here, but it’s the truth. I’ve known that book inside and out for over a decade now, and I’ve tried to follow Shaunti’s great advice everywhere I could.
Especially the parts about, you know, not nagging your husband to death. That and the parts about trusting him even when every cell in your body is trying to scream out what you think is the right answer or solution. As crazy as it sounds, guys really do thrive in an environment where they don’t have a wife implying that they’re too stupid to do anything right. Who would have thought, right?
(As a side note, I once witnessed someone scream at her husband because he used the wrong spoon to stir some spaghetti sauce. I thought, “Oh Lord, please strike me with a spoon if I ever get that upset over a kitchen utensil!”)
I wish I could say I never said a discouraging word to my husband during those four years, but I’m certain I did, even despite my best efforts. Did I break out in hives and have to be hospitalized for stress for time? Yeah, sure, but… other than that, I handled those years like a pro!
OK, so I’m not the best role model in the world.
But I made the intentional effort to stand behind my man and trust that he knew his own limits and could either keep going or bow out without me having to draw him a map. There was a time not that long ago when I really wanted him to take a break and focus on recouping his health and energy, but he didn’t want to do that.
Now, you may read this and think I’m an idiot who should have put her foot down and insisted that her husband listen to some good sense, but guess what? When I saw his face today…when I watched him run his hand over the smooth cover on his bachelor’s degree…I knew I had done the right thing. I wasn’t perfect, but I was deliberate about backing him up and standing by whatever he chose.
I know it was the right choice. I know he reached his goal, in part, because I chose to trust his instincts. It was worth the damage I did to my cuticles!