Are You Challenged by Your Man's Challenges?

Men need challenges. They need to climb the highest mountain, explore unknown territory, conquer the unconquerable.
But what’s a wife to do with these challenges? She likes the security of what is known, what is safe, what is comfortable.
Should the husband drag her along as he hunts, fishes, and explores, when she hates getting her fingernails dirty?

My husband took our younger boys to a four-day rifle course. He asked me to go.  I try to keep living things growing and happy. I have no desire to make noise, shoot, or be challenged for four days. I told him it would be good for bonding time with the younger boys. He came back with bruises. Now, why would I want to do that?

What do you do with your husband’s challenges?
My husband is in the army. (And I’m sorry, but the Reserves does not mean one weekend a month. It means another full time job.) The army requires a very detailed, precise expensive uniform (enlisted are given their uniform, officers must pay for their own). When he first entered, he had his uniform dry-cleaned. I bit my tongue over this added expense, when I struggled to stretch the groceries and buy diapers. He wanted to look his best, even in a camouflaged uniform that he’d wear in the dusty desert. I didn’t understand, but I collected it from the cleaners every month and realized Uncle Sam owned one more part of us. Did I want him to look his best? Absolutely. I just didn’t understand why the best was so expensive.

Not only do I see my husband’s challenges, I must deal with our boys’ need for challenges.
My boys have different hobbies. One took his dirt bike apart and spread all the little pieces over the garage. When asked if he knew how to put it back together, he smiled and said, “yes”, and he did.
A few of our sons work with horses and cows. They have saddles, reins, a branding iron, stock trailers and vehicles to pull them.
Other boys like to shoot. They practice regularly.
Not to mention the sports equipment that comes from active boys.
All these “challenges” require an assortment of tools and supplies to achieve mastery.
Where do all these things go?

If you enter my house, you won’t see pink or ruffles. You’ll see taxidermy ducks and fish hanging by the prized deer head on my walls and spare counterspaces, maybe before you stumble over the boots with spurs by the front door.

Because the boys have their own business, they have weedwackers, harnesses, oil, line, gas cans, and other assorted needs that fill the garage floor during their off-business hours.
It’s easy to get lost in all the testosterone that pulsate with their activities.
It’s also easy to want to find a place of comfort, stability and normalcy in spite of them.
Demanding “clean” at the cost of productivity stunts progress.
Even the Bible says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.” Proverbs 14:4
I’m not calling my men “oxen,” but they need stuff and a space to do their stuff. If anyone wants to master a skill, whether in mechanics, ranching or shooting, they must practice, learn, and improve.
That means, mom, they will make a mess.

Do you value your house’s looks over your husband or son’s need to work through his challenges?
That is not to say, that I live like we’re in a barn. They must clean up their messes. But they are allowed to make the messes they need to perfect their skills.
Cleaning is part of that responsibility that comes with mastering that skill. (You can’t shoot the gun without cleaning it.)

No mastery comes with just a half-hearted expense.
You know where this is going. Of course, the boys must own their own saddles, ropes, and one gun is never enough.
And the army changes uniforms, and requires updates, and equipment.
These things are not without cost. Supplies don’t come cheap.
I remind myself that my husband and my sons need this.
The money is well spent, even if they move on to something different. They found what they don’t like. Or those skills will help with the next project.

What about time?
If you want to see your husband, sometimes you must walk to the garage and watch him work. Maybe he requires that you be quiet so he can concentrate, so you can’t even talk as he works. It’s his time.
With my husband, I can’t be with him as he goes to the army every month. In fact, it’s time away from family. He leaves at midnight and drives to his unit for the weekend, then arrives home Sunday night around midnight. Early in this process, it required a week of pre-planning for him to get ready to go. And then a week of post-come-back-to-home time. So his weekend became a half of a month, before I could address what was happening at home. Now he has a system, and it’s better, but the Army does own his time.

With these man-challenges, there must be danger. Why else would they want to do it?
Sometimes, that danger is just the uncertainty of the future. It’s a risk.
My husband jumps out of planes regularly. Do I like it? That’s not the right question. Does he need it? Yes. So, my prayer life is better because of it. And he reaches men who need the Savior and are willing to ask what makes him calm in times of real stress.
What do I do, besides pray? I send snacks (Laugh now.)
Some soldiers after jumping will approach my husband requesting a snack because he is known as the “man whose wife loves him.” Why? Because I send snacks. I don’t understand their reasoning, I don’t understand their need to jump out of planes. He says it has its purpose, that makes the challenge "better." But I do what I can do to support him. But because of that, men have asked my husband about his family and how he does it. He tells them about God and Who He is.
Are we in this challenge together? I’m not going to jump, ever. But I can support what he does with what I have, snacks.

As a wife where do I fit in with all of this?
I could resent the army for the time away. But it is the challenge my husband needs. So I accept it, though not always easy. But accepting it is not always enough. I must work (it’s a continual decision) to make his challenges mine. This helps me to support him when he is late or when it take more money, or whatever comes up. Because he needs the challenge, I support him through it.

I will never understand man’s need to shoot things. I’m sure the thrill of such control in their hands gives a certain power, but I can appreciate their need for that challenge. And I support what challenge they call their own.

Some challenges are easier for me to accept. I like a good building. The boys’ chicken coop was a great example of mastering carpentry skills. It served a purpose. It helped bring in food.
But other challenges, like flying a dirt bike over hills to get plenty of air at high speeds….mmmm. I don’t try to understand. I accept that’s what they need to do.

Every year, my husband evaluates whether he should stay in the army. It’s a lot of time away from family and the boys are growing up. Each year, he stays. He needs the challenge, the comradery, even the ministry.

I’m don't understand the reason. I don’t have to.
But I do need to accept, support, and encourage him.

You don’t have to understand your man’s challenge, only believe in him as he faces them.
Maybe your husband wants to start his own business. You don’t like the insecurity and uncertainty. You discourage him. He will be miserable, working for another when he thinks he could do it better by himself. You have kept him from his dreams. (This is different than telling problems to consider. I do tell him that, and I can always find them.)

Maybe you encouraged him to start his own business, but it failed. Were you saddened with him, or privately relieved, so things can get back to normal again?

Do you own his challenge?
What will you do to help him reach his dreams?
It’ll take a place, a cost, and time with danger. Even when you don’t understand the reason, believe in your man.

When you believe in him, you will be united in the challenge and face the uncertainty together.
He with his dream. You with your man.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands (your husband, you and God) is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Displaying all 2 comments

This is a great article. Your husband and sons are very blessed to have you standing with them through all the challenges. Thanks for sharing.

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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