5 Homeschool Marriage Sticking Points
Have you ever considered how homeschooling might affect your homeschool marriage? We tend to talk about how homeschooling can improve your relationship with your kids. However, if you know where the sticking points are, you can avoid the trap of letting home education become a sore spot between you and your spouse and negatively affecting your homeschool marriage.
Homeschooling isn’t just an educational choice; it’s a lifestyle. For most of us, it’s a pretty radical change from how we grew up and what we expected our grown-up family life would be like. Those who’ve embraced the homeschool lifestyle know it can be wonderful. Still, any major life change is stressful, whether it’s a new baby, a major relocation, or the decision to become your children’s teacher as well as their mom.
5 Areas Where You Can Build Up the Homeschool Marriage and Avoid Sticking Points:
- First, are you both on the same page about homeschooling? It may be that Mom will do most of the hands-on teaching, but biblically, it’s not her responsibility alone or even primarily. God revealed His plans to Abraham because the patriarch was faithful to teach his household God’s will (Genesis 18:17-19). The proverbs are full of instructions from a father (Proverbs 1:8, 4:1, 5:1, and 6:20, for example). Paul reminded the Thessalonians that as an apostle, he “exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:11). Even if you both agree it makes sense for Mom to be the teacher at home, you need to be in agreement that homeschooling is the right choice for the family. Even if Dad never teaches a single textbook lesson, he should be interested, informed, and involved as much as he can.
- Don’t sell the teacher short. Sure, we know that we can’t put a price tag on the most valuable things in life, but it’s easy to slip into that way of thinking. A homeschooling mom is a teacher, the same as a friend at church who teaches at a public or Christian school. Should we downplay the hard work and selflessness that a homeschooling mother puts into her child’s education just because she doesn’t bring home a paycheck like her friend? The marketplace puts a price tag on everything, and a husband who is daily immersed in competing for salaries, benefits, and bonuses might forget to take his wife’s teaching seriously. But often Mom doesn’t give herself enough credit, either. Don’t make this mistake. Honor the teacher in your home!
- Adjust your expectations to reflect your priorities. Don’t confuse a stay-at-home mom with a “sit-at-home mom.” A homeschool is a school, and the job of a teacher carries a lot of responsibility and a huge investment of time. Dad, maybe you can afford some housekeeping help, or perhaps you and the kids can help Mom out in this area. Maybe both of you can simplify your lives in other areas, or simply accept that a little more creative clutter is a small price to pay for a family-based, Christ-centered education. But it’s not realistic to expect Mom to work a full day at teaching then be bustling with energy to cook and clean—any more than Dad would if Mom drove off to an office job every morning.
- Remember to renew the relationships. Homeschooling moms get to build into their children’s lives in a special way. That’s one of the reasons homeschooling is so powerful—it allows us to take God’s words and teach them to our children, speaking of them when we sit at home, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up (Deuteronomy 11:19). But even while Mom is building a deeper relationship with each child, she needs to be careful to strengthen the other crucial relationships in her family—with God and with her husband. She might need to borrow some devotional tricks from her busy husband—things like listening to the Bible on audio while she vacuums, praying while she exercises or walks the dog, or finding a good friend at church to be an accountability partner.
And while Dad needs to give his homeschooling wife extra praise, consideration, and support, Mom needs to save some emotional energy for her spouse. The marriage is the foundation of the family, and it’s a poor trade-off to send your children to Harvard and have a cold, lifeless relationship with your life mate. Mom, try taking a short nap with the kids or unwind a bit before Dad comes home from work. Or some set aside some “couple time” each week to talk, relax, and reconnect. Don’t put your husband’s friendship on hold because it doesn’t come with a standardized testing date at the end of the year.
- Enjoy each other! As we look back on our many years of homeschooling, it isn’t the memories of spelling or chemistry that will bring a smile to our faces. It’s not the academic things at all. It’s the joy we’ve shared as a family. It’s the memories of doing things together, discovering new ideas as a family, and seeing our children conquer challenges. Most of all, it’s our shared joy in seeing our children grow into men and women of God and begin to walk with Christ on their own. There’s no greater joy, and it’s only made better by sharing it with your beloved and your friend.
Long before there were schools or textbooks, God created marriage as a testimony of His love for His people. When we build a stronger, deeper, and more awesome relationship as man and wife, we’re laying the foundation for our children’s understanding of God and strong relationships with their future spouses. That’s a kind of education we can all get behind!
Hal & Melanie Young are the award-winning authors of Raising Real Men and My Beloved and My Friend: How to Be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses. They are publishers, writers, bloggers, and popular conference speakers internationally, known for their Christ-centered focus and practical, real-life stories. They are the parents of six real boys (four grown!) and two real girls and live in noisy, messy happiness in North Carolina. Learn more at www.RaisingRealMen.com.