The Calling of a Coach’s Wife

My friend Beth wrote a post about how being a coach’s wife is more than a title; it’s a calling.

I happen to disagree with that (Beth has read this and supports it; we’ve had a great conversation privately about it).

But first, there is a lot in Beth’s post that I do agree with, so let’s start there. We also run a lot through the “football filter;” this is why we pretty much only travel in July, and nobody expects us to be able to do much during the fall, unless maybe there is a bye-week. 

I also have helped 1 my husband a lot. I have created season highlight videos, managed social media, made travel arrangements, cooked meals for players…and probably a lot more I can’t even remember at this point. I have attended almost all the home games he’s had, and have been supportive. I am happy to help with some things as needed, and when I can make the time to do it.

But it isn’t my calling.

The topics of identity and calling are of high interest to me, and I’ve written and spoken on them before. In a recent talk I gave on calling, I explained that our callings can actually come and go; we don’t necessarily have one specific calling in life, but we can have multiple callings in our lives. My understanding of calling comes primarily from Frederick Buechner, who says:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Beth writes:

“God does not make mistakes, and he has created you for the life you are currently living. He is not surprised you married a coach, even if you are.”

I fully agree God isn’t surprised I married a coach. But that doesn’t mean God called me to marry a coach, and even if someone is called to do this, while it might be a description of her life, it’s not a prescription for all of us.

People choose to get married for different reasons and love usually has something to do with it, regardless of the career paths each person chooses to take. I was a little surprised Beth “knew exactly what [she] was getting into” because I certainly didn’t! I had some general ideas that there would be long hours and job changes and moving involved, but I had no idea of any of the ramifications of those.

I’ve since learned what it can mean, like what resigning “to pursue other opportunities” or “spend more time with family” actually means, that when people say a win-loss record isn’t important that they actually mean the opposite, and that most people outside the staff and the staff’s families have next to no understanding about what coaching is like.

But at 22, I didn’t know any of that.

I didn’t know the anger and resentment of having my life turned upside down by people making decisions for me that were out of my control. I didn’t know the heartache of leaving people and places I’d grown to love.

No, I certainly didn’t get into it knowing what it would entail in full.

I also wouldn’t change it.

It’s taken me to places I’d never have gone on my own, introduced me to people I’d have never met on my own, and given me experiences–good and bad–that I’d never have chosen on my own. I’ve learned and grown through all of it.

Now, maybe there are some women out there who do believe they are uniquely called to be a coach’s wife. I’m not going to judge someone else’s calling. This should be considered carefully, though, because what happens if her spouse decides to quit coaching? If her identity and calling is so wrapped up in this one particular career of his, that could be cause for concern. But if your deep gladness meets the needs of the football program, maybe you do have a calling, though maybe not for life, and if your husband leaves coaching and you still have a calling to be involved in a football program, what then?

A few years ago when I spoke at a MOPS group, the topic the women wanted to hear about was how to be a better wife.

I said there were a ton of marriage advice books out there, and that we’d all heard the advice to have a date night, but that what I thought was important was understanding that:

“we are not only wives and mothers.  We are our own unique selves, created by God with interests, passions, abilities, and gifts that sometimes do not fit into that mold, and we should learn to be able to celebrate who God created us to be”

Beth also wrote something similar in her post as well.

But if we continue to think that being a coach’s wife is the calling, we can miss out on so much more that God has in store for us!

One way to start finding out is these 4 questions my friend Andy from Align Coaching uses:

  • What are you good at? (what talents have others recognized in you?)
  • What makes you curious? (what do you want to know more about?)
  • What are you passionate about? (what do you believe in deeply or what are you concerned about?)
  • What do you find exhausting yet exhilarating? (what drains you in the best way possible?)

I could be wrong, but I’m not sure anyone really can answer those as leading to being a coach’s wife anymore than the answers can lead to being the spouse of a doctor, teacher, electrician, or plumber. And if that’s the case, then how is being a coach’s wife a calling, if it is not necessarily a calling to be the wife to someone in any other profession?

And in answering those questions, we might find out that those answers may not fit into the myriad of duties that coaches wives take on. We may find out that there is so much more to us than we ever realized, and we owe it to ourselves to explore that and truly know who God created us to be.

A person’s calling isn’t dependent on another person’s calling; it’s dependent on what God calls us to be and to do. My husband would never say he’s called to be a writer’s husband. So why should I think I am specifically called to be a coach’s wife?

What we can do is explore how we live out our callings within this particular lifestyle that we’ve chosen. That’s actually much harder and more nuanced. Moving means losing jobs and finding new ones; there is a lot of sacrifice involved, there is a lot of reevaluating, there is a lot of confusion.

There’s also a lot of opportunity.

Each of us has our own lives to be lived, each of us has our own callings to pursue, and this lifestyle can enhance that in unique ways; we just have to do the work to figure it out.

 

 

1Please note “helper” does not mean subservient to or less than, but I can’t go into detail here. For an easy-to-read treatment of this, see this post.

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