When we enter a new stage of life, whether it is marriage, motherhood, a new career, or even living on our own for the first time we often receive a slew of unsolicited advice from every person we encounter. Strangers notice our engagement ring or baby bump and want to share in our excitement. Acquaintances read our announcement on social media or overhear us chatting with a friend in a coffee shop and before we know it we begin to receive unsolicited opinions on how to make the next phase of our lives better.
When it comes to unique situations such as military life, ministry life, or coaching life changes, it can be difficult to discern which advice is helpful. There is always well-meaning advice. However, these two things aren’t always the same thing. You can always wade through blog posts of information about generic changes in life. But not everything will apply. It takes time to figure out what information you receive with an agenda versus simply being helpful. Today I’m sharing some of the wisdom offered to me through the years and letting you in on my secret as to how I discern what is helpful advice and what is the best advice.
The Best Advice I’ve Received a Coach’s Wife
Try to See the Bigger Picture
As a young coach’s wife, the best advice I received was to try to see the bigger picture.
This was an important piece of advice because it required me to look beyond the typical marriage book advice. Marriage books often encourage young couples to eat dinner together every night, to make sure to go to church together, and to get involved with small groups.
All of these things are often challenging for young coaching couples, especially in season. The demands of the season usually require long work weeks that start and end before sunrise and sunset. Wives may eat dinner alone a few times a week or wait until 10 pm to eat with their husbands.
It can be easy to feel like you drew the short end of the stick when your marriage doesn’t have the same “opportunities” so to speak as your newlywed friends whose weekends are free for spontaneous adventures. But when you focus on the big picture, you remember that you may not have typical weeks, but you are a part of something pretty special.
Imitate Christ Alone
Once kids started to come along and we were pretty settled into a rhythm of how we could partner in ministry using football to connect with students. You would think things would be running smoothly, but, unfortunately, there were still things to wrestle through.
For me, one of the hardest parts about this season of life was that it felt like every time I took steps forward in my calling someone was waiting to “correct” me. It didn’t matter that I was using my strengths, talents, and spiritual gifts in the critical eyes of observers, and their sharp words stung. I had to learn to move past other people’s opinions of what my life should look like. That started with the advice and reminder that we are not called to imitate each other, we are called to imitate Christ. (Ephesians 5:1)
I had to learn to serve our players the way my husband and I believed was best for our family and team without stressing about what other staff wives would say. I needed to shake off the critical words of outside observers. As one wife put it, keep your eyes forward, eye on the prize, don’t waste time looking around at where everyone else is in their lanes, that’s their business.
Look at Every Season Individually
Life is constantly changing. Your kids enter new stages of life and take on new interests. You may change jobs, take on new responsibilities within your current role, or find yourself with a personal project that consumes your fringe hours.
Regardless of what you did or did not do to partner with your coach in previous seasons, it’s okay to take some time each summer to think about what the current sports season needs to look like.
- Will you need to hire a babysitter once a week?
- Do you need to consider investing in a grocery delivery service?
- Would a cleaning service lighten your load?
- Do you need to limit your game attendance to only home games?
- Is this the season that you step up your volunteer support and tell coach you have time to cook dinner for the team?
- Will you find time with your kids to bake and deliver some goodies before the big rival game?
- Have you committed to praying for each athlete by name this season?
There are so many ways you can choose to partner with your husband in ministry and serve the team in front of you. It’s your choice! The best advice I’ve received is to prayerfully consider each season individually. Think about the things that worked from the past and why. Look at your block calendar and figure out what will fit in your calendar for the season in front of you.
Pursue Your Individual Calling Intentionally
I’ve said it often, the only consistent thing about our lives is that no two years look the same. Partly because our boys’ lives are frequently fluctuating. This is mostly because athletics is constantly shifting. No two teams are the same. Rarely does an athletic staff remain the exact same for multiple years, and all that change means that every year includes new experiences.
Part of being married to a coach means that I’m a coach’s wife, and God has us together for a reason. Fully understanding that our calling is important. While my role as a coach’s wife is not the totality of who I am, I would be remiss to assume that God does not have a plan for my life that aligns with my marriage and our current community.
Most recently, the best advice I’ve received is to pursue my calling with intentionality, which I am doing, without ignoring previous advice. That’s the thing about the best advice. It applies regardless of whatever else comes along because it is offered from a selfless place with the best intentions.
As the wife of a football coach, Beth Walker encourages women whose families are in the public eye to pursue their own callings even as they support their husbands’ careers and ministries. Through her own personal stories as well as interviews with other women who are also living just outside their husbands’ limelight, Beth shows it’s possible to do both.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on August 20, 2019, and has been updated in September 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.