MARRIED TO THE CEO: NAVIGATING HARD SEASONS
We all have challenges in our life. They come and go just like the four seasons most of us experience every year. But how do you navigate those seasons when the Mrs. is CEO too? Recently Heather and I have been weathering a pretty rough season. This summer, her parents’ home, the one that Heather grew up in, burned down. They’ve lost everything. We were at Thackston’s baseball game and one minute Heather was talking to her mom, providing a score update and the next she was fielding a call from ADT about suspicious activity at her parents’ home. When she called her mother right back, they were narrowly escaping a home engulfed in flames. To add to the trauma, Heather’s mom had fallen the week prior at Dixon’s World Series in Florida and cracked her hip. She was in a wheelchair, which complicated her ability to flee the home quickly.
Listening to my bride calmly and carefully navigate the conversation with her parents and then quickly get herself to Atlanta to provide aid proved to me, yet again, why she’s known for running toward the flames in a crisis. Heather went into action. She had a job and this time it wasn’t getting someone on television; it was caring for her parents well.
But with Heather away and continuing still to handle this crisis for her mom and dad, means that things around our house look a little different right now. As always, it’s my job, my privilege to serve my family and this time is no exception. I had to go to work too, but in a different capacity than Heather. It was time for me to be more than a 50/50 partner. I’m not gonna lie, two months in, we’re exhausted and constantly in need of a break – rest, relaxation, time away, well-behaved children (ha!). Even as we prepare to move Gigi and Pop, Heather’s parents, into their rental home (FINALLY after two months since the fire!) this week, we know that there is still much to be done before this season will conclude for us and for them.
If you find yourself in a hard season much like us, here are a few of our tested ways of navigating it and trying, as best we can, to manage and maintain a strong marriage:
- Prayer: Pray over each other and your marriage. Difficult times, no matter the reason, is particularly a time for your marriage to be attacked by Satan. Don’t let that happen. Fortify your defenses with prayer.
- Don’t expect overnight success: It’s called a season for a reason. This one is hard, especially for me because I want to fix everything…now. Everyone wants difficult times to be over quickly. It’s human nature. But health issues with parents or unexpected events, like my mother and father-in-law’s house burning down, don’t have quick resolutions. It takes time and a lot of effort. Things will eventually improve, but you have to celebrate small wins and move on to the next challenge. Small wins will slowly get you up the stairs to success. Be patient.
- Celebrate other successes that may occur inside of this season: Your kids bring home great report cards. You land a big client. Your child’s baseball team wins a tournament. Your friend gets married. Your in-laws move into a rental home. Small success outside of your difficult season can give your mind and soul a much-needed short break. Celebrate them. It will have impact on your spirit when you do. You can then tackle the bigger challenges with some steam behind you.
- Progress not perfection: Heather is currently dealing with her childhood home burning down. Her parents needed help with everything that comes with dealing with insurance companies. As you can imagine, that requires lots of time researching, calling, planning, reporting and following up. While trying to navigate all of this, it feels like you are trying to turn the Titanic with one paddle. Take comfort in the fact that any and all progress in the right direction heads you toward your goal. Getting past this difficult time will not be short. And that is ok.
- Be a servant: If the difficult season relates to your spouse, serve your spouse well and first. It can be a huge load lifted when the small things are taken care of. Jump in and pick up the kids from school and take them to practice. Do laundry, unload the dishwasher. Put the groceries away. You get the idea. Tiny tasks taken off their plate can add up to be a huge lift (and relief) to your spouse so that they can focus on the challenge in front of them.
- Make time for your spouse: New energy can be gained from something as simple as a short date night. Heather and I have a standing date every single Thursday night. We’ve only missed two during this trying season. Don’t forget you are in this together. Pour energy into each other. Time away from this crisis will ultimately renew your batteries and allow you to tackle it together, even with different roles.
- Lean into your community: Surround yourselves with strong couples and friends that have been through similar situations. They are going to offer help. Take them up on it. Ask questions. Learn from their successes and mistakes. Allow them to serve you in your time of need. There is nothing weak about accepting help. One day it will be your turn to serve them.
Heather and I will get through this rough patch. And so will you. Give grace more than ever before. Have a servant heart. Rely on each other. And rest…make sure to rest.