Preacher’s wife. Teacher’s wife. Accountant’s wife. Huh? Yeah, I’ve been all three. And in the relatively short (five years) of marriage, I have found that with each career change my husband embarks on, I am challenged with re-learning how I perceive myself, my husband and our relationship.
“Oh, my husband’s a pastor,” I said nervously at a cocktail party. Because typically in new social situations the rule of thumb is don’t talk politics or religion. But how can the religion topic be avoided when one’s husband’s career IS religion? I’m not wanting to step on toes, or hear people nervously confess they haven’t been to church in 15 years, or debate whether America is a Christian nation.
When I first met my husband, and knew he wanted to be a pastor, I wrestled with the question, “Could I be a pastor’s wife?” I mean, I’m introverted, don’t wear heels to the grocery store, and half the time I don’t even know if I believe in this whole “God-thing.” But I knew I loved him, and wanted to be with him, and after many talks about him only taking a pastoral job that fit (one where they weren’t going to expect me in heels at the grocery store), I was sold.
After our wedding, while I was in graduate school, he got a job as a youth pastor at this small, geriatric church, (where we were closer in age, at 30ish, to the junior high students than anybody else), and I loved it. I loved it so much that I got involved on leadership committees, and made friends, and enjoyed going to his youth events and Sunday services. I loved my role as a grad student, and my role as a new wife, but was also embracing and loving the “pastor’s wife” role, too.
But it was a part time gig, that needed to be supplemented by something else, equally flexible, and so he found himself substitute teaching. And the alternative high school at which he was frequently subbing asked him to apply for a position. And he got it.
Suddenly our world shifted, from preaching to teaching…
And I loved it. Because nobody gives you side-eye at a party when you say your husband’s a teacher. Because I worked with at-risk youth, in a counseling setting, and he was working with at-risk youth in an academic setting, we had SO MUCH IN COMMON! You guys, there were nights where we would lay in bed, holding hands, and talking about how proud we were of a student (we shared a few on our caseload), at how much progress he was making, and how fulfilling the work was. We enjoyed time together, since he was off work at three, and in the summers. Even when he went back to school for his Master’s in Teaching we were able to spend a lot of time together doing totally normal daily activities, like grocery shopping or going to the dog park.
And then, a few weeks after my son was born, my husband abruptly left the world of teaching. It was an emotional time that felt both exciting and scary. He was accepted into an intensive accounting certificate program, and here we are, on the other side of a busy tax accounting season, trying to get our bearings for how life will be with this newest endeavor.
Gone are the fantasies of three blissful months off each summer, together with our son, traveling the world, or lounging on the couch watching TV. What’s replaced it has been long hours, including some nights and weekends, and a season where I very rarely saw him. It’s been difficult. Our communication has lagged. And while the twingy-nervousness has been replaced by pride when I tell people “my husband’s an accountant,” rather than “my husband’s a pastor,” I really miss those dreams we had when we were newly married.
I miss the connecting over work that I had when my husband was a teacher. At night he’s too exhausted to talk about work, and I have no interest in learning anything more about tax codes or deadlines. He’s entered a world of numbers that I don’t understand, and don’t know if I want to understand.
And sometimes it feels like I’ve had three different husbands. And while I’d like for us to settle in for awhile, in moments I (half) jokingly say that up next he’ll be a plumber, or a pilot, or a pizza delivery dude.
We’ve come so far together, and we are working on getting back to “us,” without relying on the easy connection of talking about work. But we’ve had to be creative…
Like finding romance in laying beauty bark in our garden, or training our dog, or attending sporting events. I’ve tried altering my schedule a bit to stay up later and talk, and he’s been working on texting on breaks. And when it’s hard, I just look at my husband and see how fulfilled he is, and am glad that his career has evolved this way.