When we began this series, we asked that our readers and members expand their definition of single women and single mothers. We wanted to ensure that we didn’t look only at the young single girls and the single mothers, but all the variations of singleness. The never been married, the divorcee, the widow… and those women who are married but live in the absence of their spouse.
What do we mean by living in the absence of their spouse…?
A husband who is in the military and on deployment.
A husband who is in rehab fighting through addiction.
A husband who is incarcerated due to poor decisions.
A woman who is married but currently separated (possibly hoping for reconciliation).
A husband who has a job that keeps him away from the family for long stretches.
A husband who is present but has a chronic or terminal illness that is stealing him from the family.
There are probably more circumstances than the examples given, hopefully that is enough to get us all thinking. In the last year, a good friend of mine was married with an absent husband. His father lived in another state, he was being treated for cancer. Because of his work flexibility, my friend’s husband was able to travel back home to spend a lot of time with his father. It was such a blessing that he was able to do so, but that meant my friend was left here to run life as normal for their kids without her husband by her side. There were things that needed done around the house, that she would normally leave to her husband. Now she was talking about getting a handy man to come and make the repairs. We were all offering up our husbands to come by and get the job done.
Circumstances will arise that can leave a woman flying solo temporarily. Just because it is not permanent, doesn’t mean it comes without complications and struggles. As we become aware of these people in our churches and communities, we can begin to find ways to help them through these periods.
A mom struggling during the absence of her husband may be in desperate need of a baby sitter, in order to maintain life as normal. The times when she would normally depend on her husband have now fallen on her shoulders. She can’t be in two places at once, and many parents do not want their kids’ lives to be disrupted. Having a second set of hands to divide and conquer when the kids need to be in two places at the same time… that is a blessing.
All of the things she depended on him for, may be overwhelming her. What can we do to lift that weight off her and ease her life until he returns home? What can we do to ensure that when he comes home that he is returning to a house that has been maintained versus a laundry list of things to do once he is home? How can we minister to him and his wife at the same time?
She made need a person to sit on the couch with her and listen as she pours out her heart about her absent husband. She misses him. She is worried about his safety. She hasn’t heard from him in a few days, and is concerned. She doesn’t know when he is coming home. The rehab center won’t let the kids visit him yet, and they miss their dad. His court date keeps being postponed and she has no idea what to tell her children. Sometimes, they just need to unload the weights in their heart to someone who isn’t going to try and fix it or give them sage advice. They may need someone to hold their hand, to stand in agreement that this is a hard road, and pray with them.
A mother of sons, would appreciate men in the church stepping in and being a guiding influence while her husband is gone. A mother of daughters, may need a seasoned mom to walk along side her helping with the decisions that she would normally bounce of her husband. Perhaps you could include her in your own family activities, making her an honorary member of team so that she doesn’t feel alone and isolated in her space.
Take advantage of any opportunity you have as a ministry leader to speak with women and families in your church that have been down these specific roads, and glean from their wisdom. Pray that the Lord will show you who to serve, and new ways to meet their needs that you may have overlooked.