Dear God, He’s Home!
by Janet Thompson
“After Ken’s layoff, I’d wake up in the night trembling with fear and sneak out of bed to sit by the fireplace with my Bible. I’d read and read until finally peace came . . . and it always did . . . at least enough for that night.” –Deborah
THE WIFE OF A STAY-AT-HOME man is going to talk to God—a lot!
Maybe she’ll write a cathartic letter in her journal: Dear God,. . . . Another wife might begin her pleading or thankful prayers with “Dear God,”. . . . Still other wives in times of desperation or frustration cry out, “Dear God, HE’S HOME!”
The various times my husband has been a “stay-at-home man,” I regularly expressed each of those “Dear Gods,” as do the wives who submitted stories for my book Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man. So if you have a stay-at-home man and he’s driving you crazy, don’t feel guilty if you haven’t always been joyous about this new closeness in your marriage relationship. And don’t feel alone. When I sent out a request for stories of women with a husband home due to retirement, illness, disability, out of work, home office, the military . . . whatever reason…the stories flowed into my inbox and my ears.
With unemployment at an all-time high, baby boomers reaching retirement age by the droves, military pulling out of many areas and returning home, businesses down-sizing or setting up virtual offices in homes, chances are pretty good you either are or know a woman with a stay-at-home man.
Myriad emotions and reactions erupt from both spouses when an otherwise out-of-the-home-every-day husband is suddenly home all day—every day. Many wives have their own label for this occurrence. In Honey, I’m Home for Good!,Mary Ann Cook calls it spouse-in-the-house syndrome. Then there’s retired-husband syndrome or military reintegration syndrome.
Every couple’s response to their unique syndrome evolves from how they’ve dealt with previous transitions in their relationship. Couples who stumbled and fumbled without finding workable resolutions in the past, will probably stumble and fumble through this new situation too. However, couples who have successfully developed and implemented coping techniques may be better equipped to adjust to a full time “stay-at-home man.” Even so, unexpected issues can blindside both spouses.
There’s no age qualifier for a husband suddenly being home 24/7. Sometimes it comes as a shock like a layoff or illness and other times it’s the natural progression of expected retirement or return from deployment. Whatever the reason, even when we know it’s coming, the reality of a hubby being home full-time is disarming. A woman recently wrote me:
My dad has just announced that he’ll be retiring the end of March, so I’m excited to read your book and send it along to my mom afterwards. We didn’t handle his retirement from the Marine Corps so well 20 years ago. I was just laughing about it with him on the phone today, but he has better laid plans to transition out this time around.
Planning is essential, if you have that luxury. Each time my husband has been home, it’s always been a surprise and no time to plan. It hit us both hard and we struggled through adapting to the transitions and changes we each experienced.
For Better or For Worse but Not For Lunch
The universal frustration expressed by wives of stay-at-home husbands: he’s invading “my space” and my work load is increasing while his is decreasing. The prospect of fixing lunch every day can push a wife over the top. John expresses the lament of many wives:
When I retired from the Navy (and was a stay at home retiree) my wife (after a few weeks) said, “I promised for better or worse, but I didn’t promise lunch every day. Go out and get another job. So I did…
Not every husband can go out and get another job, at least not right away. Instead of feeling resentful or overwhelmed, we wives need to put into perspective issues like lunch or helping with household duties and discuss with our husbands in the same way we would discuss a major decision or planning a trip—talk it out. Dear God, He’s Home! has discussion questions at the end of each chapter to get the talking started. In the Sanity Tools section, there’s also a Leader’s Guide to use the questions in support groups or book clubs.
Words of Wisdom from Wives with a Stay-at-Home Man
- Make each day the best it can be. You don’t know how many days you’ll have left together. —Alice
- Understand where your husband is at in his life and don’t make his retirement or at-home-experience miserable. —Alice
- Don’t belittle or put down your husband—build him up. Find out his concerns and needs, don’t just focus on your own. —Alice
- Communicate your needs honestly and lovingly. —Joan
- When shopping together, pick a store that also has sporting, gardening, or electronic departments and let your husband browse or send him to find something. —Sue
- What’s important to your spouse should also be important to you and what’s important to God should be important to both of you! —Janet (me)
My Stay-at-Home Man Shares
My husband, Dave, selflessly understood that I would have to write vulnerably and honestly about our messes and our miracles. In the Epilogue of Dear God, He’s Home!, Dave offers this closing advice:
So I leave you with these final words: Living with your spouse in stay-at-home man seasons of life, while different, is no more challenging than any other season of married life. You just have to constantly die to self as God teaches us, consider your spouse more important than yourself, and work as a team. I like the wise council I gleaned from Promise Keepers years ago and ultimately conveyed to my son, sons-in-law, and men’s small group studies—marriage isn't a 50/50 proposition as proposed by some, but 100/0. If you give 100% and expect zero in return, you’ll grow to love your spouse as Christ loved the church, and your marriage will thrive.
To read a snippet of Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man: http://tinyurl.com/dxb4whq
Buy the Book:
Available at all bookstores, online bookstores such as Amazon http://t.co/haUovX2X9r, and signed at Janet’s website store http://womantowomanmentoring.com/shop.
This article includes excerpts from Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man (New Hope Publishers)—the third book in the “Dear God,” series by author and speaker Janet Thompson. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and the author of seventeen books, including: Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?, Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, The Team That Jesus Built, and the Face-to-Face Bible study series. All of Janet’s books are available at bookstores, online bookstores, and signed by her athttp://womantowomanmentoring.com/shop.
About the Book:
A husband is now home 24/7 and the wife needs help ASAP!
Regardless of the reason he’s home—out of work . . . retired . . . home office . . . returned from military deployment . . . disability or illness . . . whatever—wives of stay-at-home husbands share many of the same transitional and heart adjustments.
Dear God, He’s Home! is a practical and raw look at issues couples go through
when a husband is suddenly home full time. Sharing openly from personal experience and through Scripture, Janet Thompson encourages wives to joyfully embrace their God-ordained marriages.
The book also includes personal thought questions, discussion questions for couples, and a small-group or book club discussion guide.
About the Author:
Janet Thompson, founder and director of About His Work Ministries, is the author of 17 books and the recognized author of the “Dear God” book series. Janet developed the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, served as a lay minister for 12 years, and continues to share the blessings of mentoring through her Woman to Woman Mentoring resources, trainings, and speaking events.
Janet and her stay-at-home husband, Dave, have four married children and love being Grammie and Grampa to 11 beautiful grandchildren. After living in California her entire live, Dave’s retirement led Janet and Dave to move to the rural mountains of Idaho. Janet invites you to visit her at:
Monday, March 18
Book reviewed at My Devotional Thought
Interviewed at Faith Deployed
Tuesday, March 19
Interviewed at Moving Toward Joy
Wednesday, March 20
Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Interviewed at Stephanie Shott
Thursday, March 21
Interviewed at Review From Here
Interviewed at Come Have Peace
Friday, March 22
Book reviewed at Melina’s Book Blog
Guest blogging at Pinkkudzu’s Weblog
Monday, March 25
Interviewed at Melina’s Book Blog
Interviewed at Heart Change
Tuesday, March 26
Interviewed at My Cozie Corner
Wednesday, March 27
Guest blogging at The Paperback Pursuer
Thursday, March 28
Guest blogging at The Story Behind the Book
Book reviewed at Mary Writes Right Now
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Guest blogging at A Martha Heart
Friday, March 29
First Chapter Reveal at Melina’s Book Blog
Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Interviewed at Positive Grace
Monday, April 1
Interviewed at American Chronicle
Tuesday, April 2
Guest blogging at Moving Toward Joy
Wednesday, April 3
Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Thursday, April 4
Guest blogging at Between the Covers
Friday, April 5
Interviewed at Yahoo News
Monday, April 8
Interviewed at As the Pages Turn
Tuesday, April 9
Book reviewed at Godspotting
Wednesday, April 10
Interviewed at Digital Journal
Thursday, April 11
Book featured at Book Marketing Buzz
Friday, April 12
Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking