Recently, I was talking with a friend about the things in our life we’re currently stressed about. “Ya, I can’t imagine there’s much good about those tests he has to take,” my friend said.
She was talking about one of our family struggles–a testing regimen my husband has to complete for work. If he fails to pass these exams, he loses his job. As a single income family, that’s a really big deal and it adds a lot of extra stress to our lives.
“Well,” I replied to my friend, “There actually has been some good that’s come from it.”
He’s been taking the tests for 9 years, and we have about 3 more to go before they are completed. It feels like they control our lives, but we decided not to let them control our happiness.
At first, I didn’t respond well to the stress they put on us. Because I wasn’t the one taking the tests, I tried to support him as much as I could, but I took it to a micromanaging level. It felt like I needed to create an atmosphere in which he could choose to study, at any given moment, should the inspiration strike him. This exhausted me, especially once kids were added to the picture. When he was studying, I was stressed that I had no help, and when he wasn’t studying I was stressed that he wasn’t going to pass. It was pretty awful.
But then we started to figure it out. He got on a schedule for studying. Two days a week he comes home and plays with the kids and two days a week he studies and comes home just in time to kiss them good night. We found a different location for him to study because when he’s home and not helping me out, it’s extra difficult for me. He also studies much more effectively when the kids can’t get to him.
On my end, I built in routine, and scheduled support from a friend whose husband works late. My friend and I are together after nap, through dinner, and until bedtime on the nights our husbands are occupied with work and studying. The kids play, we clean and cook and enjoy some adult conversation. For this reason alone, I no longer dread study nights! He studies on the weekends too, but there’s a built in nap time scheduled for me after church on Sunday. That’s enough to get me through.
Everybody’s got something. You don’t always know other people’s struggles. It took us a few years to work through this together and figure it out, but I’m thankful for the struggle. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but it’s oddly true. It’s taught me to trust him professionally and learn to live with the unknown. I don’t know if he will pass. I don’t know what job he will get if he fails.
But I can’t live with anxiety, so I’ve come to be at peace with it. Whatever happens, we will be together and we will make it work. I will be doing cartwheels on the day we find out we’re finished with these tests, but the real victory will be that we fought through them, together.
Photo Credit: Flickr/April Killingsworth