When telling incoming freshmen tiredness is not an option, Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski uses his mother as an example of toughness:
“I never saw my mom sick. In other words, when I grew up, I woke up every day and my mom was there. I took it for granted. She’s never tired, or she never showed it. Be as tough as your mothers. They show up all the time.”
But showing up all the time can be exhausting.
“Moms put so much pressure on themselves to be good moms to the point where it can get a little neurotic if you’re not careful,” said Nathan Thompson, family pastor at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus.
Thompson shared insights on how the coronavirus has changed family dynamics and how husbands can help their wives during this time.
One of the biggest challenges of motherhood might not be raising children, but comparison.
“When you value something, you naturally want to be good at it,” Thompson added. “But what does it really mean to be a good mom? We live in such a performance-oriented culture. It’s not the culture’s fault, but we do judge ourselves among ourselves, which the Bible says is foolishness. I think the first step away from that is to stop comparing and judging yourself because Jesus didn’t come to judge, but to save … He’s not grading you on your performance as a mom.”
One big, happy family
The coronavirus has given spouses more time together, which, for better or worse, has uncovered the health of many marriages.
“The No. 1 predictor of divorce is couples who already feel distant and disconnected,” Thompson said. “This puts couples in a situation where they are forced to be together. Having to deal with those feelings of loneliness in your marriage—you can’t go off to your friend’s house or go shopping. You can’t distract yourself with other things. You’re forced to interact. That can be a great thing to start the process of reconnecting.”
Thompson said that difficult circumstances can cause spouses to turn against each other.
“I don’t think time is the key issue, but how people are dealing with losses in their life, like freedom and income,” Thompson added. “I always encourage couples not to turn against each other because it’s easy to try to look for an object of your scorn. Your spouse is usually a pretty easy target for that. So, instead of turning against each other, have a positive influence on each other.”
How husbands can help
Many stay-at-home moms are without breaks or babysitters during COVID-19, so husbands should look for ways to help around the house.
Thompson and his wife, Kelly, have three children, ages 9 to 14.
“Love always looks for ways to meet the needs of the other,” Thompson said. “Even though that’s changed in 10 years—my wife doesn’t need me to heat up formula—but now we’ve got the phone battles or friend drama. Each season has its own pros and cons.”
Regardless, Thompson said children are a blessing.
“The Bible says, ‘Children are a blessing from the Lord and blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them,’ so I don’t buy into the fact that children cause relational turmoil in the home,” Thompson added. “I think it’s the way couples relate to each other around the kids. So, if a mom prioritizes her children over her husband or if a husband is negligent with his children and never engages with the family, that’s not good.”
Thompson outlines four ways husbands can help their wives flourish as mothers.
1. Serve your wife around the house.
“We make jokes about the honey-do list, but the reason we make jokes about them is because it’s true,” Thompson said. “There’s a legitimate need under there. Be it do the dishes, sweep, clean, ask her if she has any small projects. Women love for men to serve them.”
2. Talk with your wife.
Go on walks, sit on the deck or have couch time together.
“Another running joke is that women use three times more words than men during the day, and that’s true,” Thompson added. “So, if they don’t have their normal outlets or as frequently, like their girlfriends, chances are they’ll want to talk more than usual. Tenderhearted men will pay attention to that and show her you value her by being a good listener.”
3. Pursue alone time with your wife.
Exercise together or take car rides if you have teens.
“As much as wives invest in their children, it’s not healthy for them to only invest in them,” he said. “Making sure they get enough adequate time away from the chores and kids is important.”
4. Lead the family.
“Make sure you’re not defaulting to your wife to read Scriptures with your kids, to turn on the TV for church, to do communion or pray with the kids,” Thompson said. “It’s OK to share those things, but it’s letting them know what’s important to our family and being able to model and express it to your kids.”