Dear God, He’s Home!
“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..
Every couple’s response to their unique situation 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.
I’d been waiting to meet a godly man for a long time. I was a single parent for seventeen years and my only daughter, Kim, was getting ready to leave for college so it seemed like the perfect time for God to bring “Mr. Right” into my life. Then there he was—tall, dark, tanned, and handsome! I had joined a small group Bible study comprised of career men and women from my church. During introductions, Dave said he was divorced with three kids and was a regional manager for a semi-conductor company.
Bingo! I thought I knew exactly why God had me join this group. This man had definite potential. Eventually, he asked me out. Love blossomed and six-months later, we married and started on the journey of blending our two families. Life was good. We both had two well-paying, challenging careers, a nice home, great kids, and I started attending seminary. Dual incomes afforded us the freedom to travel, remodel our home, and provide our kids with a comfortable lifestyle.
Three years after our wedding, the last child left home so we agreed I could resign from my career and go into full-time lay ministry starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at our church, Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Dave’s job would support us nicely and provide benefits. The mentoring ministry was growing and we were enjoying the luxuries of an empty nest . . . for all of three months. Then Dave was part of a corporate layoff five months after his 50th birthday.
“No problem,” he said confidently. “I’ve never had trouble finding work. Recruiters are always contacting me with jobs from the best companies.”
A “Job Placement Program” was part of his severance package, so for the next three months not much changed. Every morning he showered and shaved, dressed in his suit, starched shirt, tie, and dress shoes, grabbed his briefcase, and went to the “office” of the job placement company. I continued attending seminary and growing the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry.
Slightly daunted, but not discouraged when the three months ended with the job placement company and no jobs surfaced, Dave moved his recruiting efforts into one of the kids’ vacated bedrooms, which we set up as his temporary office.
As the months dragged on, I could hear his frustrated, borderline begging, phone conversations. He was over-qualified for any entrance opportunity and too old and high-paid for advanced positions. Discouragement turned into depression as my former corporate businessman in three-piece suits and shined designer shoes . . . deteriorated into a couch potato in shorts, a tank top, and flip flops.
Watching him sink into a “midlife crisis,” I convinced him to start working out at the local gym, where he actually found his next job after eighteen months of unemployment. I did have to ask if it was a job or a hobby since it was working for a man with a small golf manufacturer’s rep business who overheard Dave lamenting about his out-of-work dilemma while pumping iron at the gym. The “job” had no benefits and was commission only, but Dave loved being around golf courses for the next four years.
Just as he was starting to make a suitable living at this venture, his boss let him go saying he couldn’t afford to keep him on staff. This layoff coincided with my first breast cancer diagnosis. Again, Dave was back to recruiters, job fairs, scouring the newspaper . . . anything . . . nothing. Only this time, we couldn’t afford for him to go into a depression or sit on the couch . . . Dave needed a job with benefits ASAP.
I was still working out of my home office leading the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry and had started About His Work Ministries—my writing and speaking ministry. Christian speakers and authors often receive the advice, “Never quit your day job.” Too late, I had quit my day job. Now I had cancer and my husband was out of work, again.
Four months later, Dave came home from a job fair announcing he had an interview with a bug and termite exterminator company. I couldn’t imagine Mr. Corporate America and golf rep Dave wearing a khaki-green uniform, mask, hardhat, and work boots chasing bugs in attics, crawl spaces under houses, and around yards. But that’s exactly what he did for the next seven years . . . until he couldn’t walk anymore.
His right ankle began swelling, then he was limping, and finally the doctor said he eventually wouldn’t be able to walk without having reconstructive foot surgery, which would require being off his feet at home for six-months to a year. His company gave him six months to return to work or lose his job.
A “six-month recovery” morphed into a year—unemployed again—but this time he was sixty-four and disabled. To Dave it was a no-brainer—retire. To me it was a brain-twister—retire? I fought it, denied it, tried to persuade him to find a desk job and work at least until he was sixty-seven or seventy . . . but not retire. No, not stay home! How would we survive financially? What would he do with his time? How could I write with him around when I needed complete solitude?
In Dear God, He’s Home, I share how we worked through each of our “Dear God, He’s Home!” seasons, as I let the reader peek into my heart and soul, as do all the wives with stay-at-home hubbies who share their stories and tips for not just surviving, but thriving in marriage with a stay-at-home man.
*Portions of this article are excerpts from Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man!
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 JANET THOMPSON
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 website and blog at www.womantowomanmentoring.com