Thursday, February 21, 2019

Shō ga nai when your husband works late

From the beginning (even when dating) the hours my husband puts into his job has been a constant source of marital contention. He works so long! My husband is a electrical engineer and is supposed to work a 40 hour week and is supposed to get off work at 5. This would put him home by 5:30. 

He has been home by 5:30 perhaps 12 times in our entire marriage. In fact, the last time he came home "on time" I, in shock, asked him if he had been fired. 

No, he had not been fired. He had just arrived home on time. 


I wrote "how to be happy when your husband works late," a blog post that contains practical advice to help you deal with a spouse who works long hours during the weekdays (and sometimes the weekends depending on issues). I myself practice all of my points that I make in that post.

After six years of late-night husband, I can now make it through the day and evening without wiping myself out. But even though I have learned to expect him to come home late--even if I have practical tips to help me through it--still I harbor feelings against my husband in my heart as 6, 7 or even 8 o'clock strolls around without the noise of the door creaking and my husbands footsteps descending into our home.  

In sort, I still struggle with accepting my husbands work hours.

I finally realized that I need to deal with my resentment. So, as the weeks went by, I prayed for God to open my eyes to my husbands struggles and to shift the viewpoint from my own woes to whatever God was trying to teach me.  


God has taught me two things so far. One is I no longer view my husband's work as "outside" the scope of family life. I used to pine for him to come home so he could help with the kids and be with me, but now I see that he is fulfilling his purpose towards our family as he works. His job is not something that gets in the way of my plans or our family, but something that supports and is necessary to the function of our household. I mean, I used to just think he worked to make money, and yes, we do need money to live. But his job is much more than just making money! Just like I worship God by loving and raising my kids, my husband is worshiping God as he pours out his time and his energy into his job to support me raising his kids. He works for our family, yes, but mostly he works for me. So I can stay home and raise our kids. So I better be sure to do a good job because I don't want him to be working in vain and I don't want to squander the sacrifice he is making as he works Monday through Friday. 

My husband, much like myself, has dreams that do not revolve around his job or office. But he, like me, must set those dreams aside to work to support our family and our home. He is slowly giving his life to his work so that I can give my life to our family.


When viewed God's way my husband's job goes from a hindrance to a beautiful picture of sacrifice not only to God but also to me and our family. I mean, I can't say I love that he works late, but I no longer feel bent out of shape and frustrated with him when he does. I see it just as an extension of him doing what he feels is right for his job, which in turn would be right for our family as his job supports our family and our lifestyle. I extend mercy towards my husband and towards myself and I buckle down, dig deep into God's word and try not to worry about my own temporary comfort. Parenting, motherhood, marriage: it's all work. And it's not about getting a break or completing a list. It's about God's glory.

The Japanese have a word that embodies a lot of what I discussed above, at least for me. Shō ga nai (pronouced SHOGANAI). It means (roughly) "it can't be helped". I often think of this Japanese word when my husband is working late and I am frustrated. Shō ga nai. Accept what cannot be helped.

Right now in this season, my husband working late is part of my existence. And God is teaching and stretching me as I deal with it. Who am I to refuse a trial given to me by God? Instead, I should turn to him and accept his lessons as they come. God is good and he knows what is best for me and best for our family. 

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