Discouraged, Trapped, & Burned Out

Dear Dr. Bill,

My husband and I have four children, ages 9, 6, 4 and 2. He’s a full-time faculty member at a Bible college where I’m a part-time student. We’re both in full-time ministry and love working with the students at the college.

But we’re having a problem over expectations about our home — and I’m struggling with resentment toward my husband.

He loves to have a neat and orderly house and has a tendency to go a little crazy when things are in disarray. I’ll admit that cleaning and organization are not my gifts — I’m much more interested in relationships.

I’m very hospitable and want to use our home as an outreach to the students we work with. But my definition of what’s presentable and my husband’s differ. I feel discouraged, trapped, burned out, and that none of my efforts are ever good enough! What should I do?

Lisa, let’s review here. You have four kids under ten years old, including a toddler. You are working in ministry full-time and going to school part-time. Your husband wants a neat and orderly house and feels it your responsibility to keep it that way. What’s wrong with this picture?

You need to sit down for a major pow-wow session with your husband and discuss your priorities and expectations. Basically, you are working the equivalent of two full-time jobs and going to school. If he wants a cleaner, more organized house, he should contribute 50% to the housework and do it with a cheerful heart.

There’s bigger issue at stake here. Somehow you’ve bought into the notion that you can “do it all”—be a wife, mother, student, and be committed to full-time ministry to college students. It’s time to take a hard look at your life and decide what’s really important.

I’d suggest you take a break from ministry, limit yourself to one class per semester, and focus on your children and your marriage. If you don’t, your stress, resentment and frustration is only going to get worse and your family is going to suffer.

Thanks for writing Lisa. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.