How to be a Temporary Trailing Spouse (or, How One Husband Lives with his Wife in an Understanding Way)

– By Elizabeth

While I played with Faith in the church nursery recently, a mom asked me why I decided to homeschool. I paused for a second. It’s been a long time since I’ve pondered my journey to homeschool motherhood, a choice that’s just as uncommon among ex-pats in Phnom Penh as it was among church-goers in Kansas City. (Most parents in this city send their kids to international schools.)

As many of you know, Jonathan was homeschooled, and I wasn’t. When we started our family, I just figured we would homeschool because Jonathan would want that. After a few years as a mom, however, I wasn’t quite so sure anymore. I was afraid I’d do it poorly. I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy being with my kids ALL DAY. I was afraid that life would consist of only one thing: schoolwork.

Our school room in Cambodia

You could say I was a trailing homeschool spouse. I’ve previously used the term Trailing Spouse to describe my initial hesitancy toward missions. Jonathan’s desire to come to Cambodia was originally much stronger than mine, but I eventually caught up. It’s easy to see that my trailing pattern had been established before, when his desire to homeschool was much stronger than mine.

I’m a data gatherer. When I trailed behind Jonathan in homeschool-parent-willingness, I joined a homeschool co-op in order to gather data. I gathered data from real women who were educating their children at home through varying styles of homeschooling but who were all satisfied with their choices. I pleasantly discovered that homeschool didn’t take over their lives. I realized that there were a lot of available options, but most importantly, that we could still be a happy family. My new knowledge gave me the courage to try it. Now I love homeschooling. I love it so much I forget there was ever a time that I didn’t want to do it. My desires did catch up with Jonathan’s.

In these trailing situations, Jonathan has truly been a husband who lives with his wife in an understanding way (from I Peter 3:7). It’s not one of the more commonly quoted Bible verses on marriage (Ephesians 5, anyone??), but it’s my personal favorite. It perfectly describes my husband’s behavior. He understands that I’m a data gatherer, and he lets me gather data. He understands that I will follow him, but he also understands that from time to time I might trail temporarily. He understands that I often have fears, and he waits for them to dissipate. He makes it easy to be his wife – he’s got 12 years of experience in living with me in an understanding way.

3 thoughts on “How to be a Temporary Trailing Spouse (or, How One Husband Lives with his Wife in an Understanding Way)

  1. Love this Elizabeth… God is using you and molding you to look like His son. What a powerful example of a Godly wife you are! I’m so proud of you and you family.

  2. I am in agreement with Kristi here, Elizabeth. Just such a Godly example of a wife (who I dare say is submissive-such a controversial word and subject) with a husband who understands and gives your willingness a chance to catch up with his. Reminds me of the one who said “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”. Beautiful and inspiring to this newly married woman who desires the Godly marriage intended for believers everywhere. Just a little ironic that the inspiration comes to me from half way around the world and from the one I met over a chemistry book at Blue River Community College. May God continue to bless your family and pour out his grace on you and Jonathan as you commit to live “all for one”.


  3. You two ladies are too sweet. In my mind this was more of an “I’m slow on the uptake and my husband is super patient” kind of post, certainly not anything good about me! But truly, I love you Kristi and Shelly! Kristi, you have always been a wonderful example of a ministry wife, there to listen to me and even to give (good) advice. And now I am watching you never complain as your family goes through this long battle with childhood cancer. Shelly, I absolutely loved our summer of chemistry together, and you made our 4th baby’s birth so peaceful and easy. You are the best labor and delivery nurse I ever had, and possibly the best in the world! ~Elizabeth

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