Dear Mr. Pearl,

Hello. I am a pastor’s wife in a military community. I am going to attempt, with God’s help, to do a ladies meeting in my church on marriage. However, I don’t exactly know how to address the issue of the military life as it is now. For example: one of my ladies told me that in the past 16 years of their marriage her husband has only been home a total of three years. He has been gone off and on so much in the past 16 years she has had to raise the children and tend to their farm on her own. And, when he is at home he’s not really there. He has had to sleep in the barn many nights because of the nightmares. How do I address the issue of stepping back and letting the husband be the head of the home? Their marriage seems to work, but she has plainly told him that home is just a place for him to lay his head when he comes back from the field. He has accepted this and allowed her to continue to lead. This is just one of the families in our church that have to deal with this military lifestyle. I would just like some advice on how to address this in my meeting to try to help these weary ladies. Thank you so much for your books. I have many of them and love the way you have done your duty to teach the younger women. I once was one of those selfish young wives that only hurt my marriage and my husband. After reading your book “Created to Be His Help Meet” I realized what I was. Thank you so much for writing this book. I also want to thank you in advance for helping me in this matter of our military community. It is difficult to watch these marriages fall apart.

— A Concerned Reader

Karen answers…

Dear Pastor’s Wife,

As the wife of a retired Navy man, I appreciate your desire to minister to military wives; they are a needy group. For the most part they are tough, resilient, and willing to carry a heavy load so their husbands can lay down their lives daily in service to their country. What they need most is encouragement that the struggle will be worthwhile in the end.

Dear Military Wife,

When you married your husband, you took on a bigger challenge than you imagined, and maybe one you did not bargain for. Every military family knows it is not just the active-duty member who sacrifices; it is a family affair, encompassing everyone from the oldest great-grandparent to the day-old newborn. Your husband sacrifices his youth and energy in defense of his country, his parents and grandparents sacrifice seeing the one they love, you sacrifice a “normal” home life with your husband and the father of your children, and the kids sacrifice time with their daddy.

However (and this is a big however), God does not make exceptions to his Word because of our circumstances. When you married, you married for better or worse, and you may be in the “worse” part right now. Some days it may seem there is no end to it, but rest assured, there is. God says,

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.

(Ecclesiastes 7:8–14)

If you are to have any hope of making it to the end of the military life with your family intact, you must be patient, eschew anger, and seek wisdom. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). You need wisdom to understand what your husband needs and know your responsibilities before God.

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First, when your husband comes home and must “sleep in the barn many nights because of the nightmares,” it is likely because he does not want to burden you with the horrors of war that are forever seared in his mind. He has walked “through the valley of the shadow of death” and needs to have his soul restored. How does God restore our soul? He makes us lie down in green pastures, leads us beside the still waters . . . in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. He provides comfort, prepares a table, and anoints our head with oil. Study Psalm 23 and you will have a good picture of how to restore your weary husband’s soul. And when you are through, he will know that goodness and mercy will follow him all the days of his life. Your husband is more vulnerable than you (or he) may want to admit. Solomon says the virtuous woman’s husband “doth safely trust in her” and that “she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Right now your husband’s fragile heart and mind need your tenderness and sacrificial loving care. He needs to safely trust you. He needs you to do him good.

Second, the Word of God is still true whether you are married to a high-powered businessman, a septic-tank pumper, or a military man. It is crucial that you understand your role as God designed it and work hard to live it out every day.

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

(Titus 2:1–5)

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Here is your sound doctrine: eight things that God requires of you as a wife. Study them and live them, not because your husband deserves it, but so that “the Word of God be not blasphemed.” That is the key. Your service to your family is service to God. It is your purest form of worship. Whether your service is washing dishes and folding laundry, ironing uniforms and shining boots, or ministering to a battle-weary husband, it is an act of worship to God when you do it out of obedience to him. Remember, “to obey is better than sacrifice.” Your obedience to the Word of God is what matters.

Now you may be thinking, “His needs? What about MY needs? Who is going to take care of me?”

Do you trust God (Psalm 28:7)? Do you believe God is able to give you wisdom and strength for each difficult day (James 1:5 and Isaiah 41:10)? Do you know God cares for you in all things (1 Peter 5:7)? Will you trust him to meet your needs until your husband’s soul is restored?

Finally, because I am a former military wife, I know you are wondering how to do all this when you are just plain tired, when you are overwhelmed, and when you simply don’t feel like it. The answer is what Nike® says: Just do it. “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established” (Proverbs 16:3). Just keep doing the right thing, and eventually the “feel like it” will catch up. Do it for the restoration of your husband’s soul. Do it for the glory of God.

Our military families need your help. It doesn’t matter what you think about military action or what you think about the war—what does matter is that you care about people knowing the Lord and about families honoring God.

We would like to send to the husbands overseas a Bible, some Bible-study CDs, and other Bible-based books. We will send to the wives some child-training books and tapes and our new book, Created to Be His Help Meet. If you or your spouse are an active-duty military  member, please click the link here: http://nogreaterjoy.org/ministry/military-ministry/

We could not offer these packages without the generous gifts that others have given specifically to our military ministry. If you would like to give a gift so that we can continue to send these gift packages to the military members and their families, please click this link: http://nogreaterjoy.org/shop/ministry-gift-military