When my husband and I decided to homeschool our girls we listed how it would impact our lives. We laid our vision for what education would look like in our home. We assessed our talents to determine what we could bring to the table in the educating of our children. We discussed our lifestyle, pace, and careers. We talked about the financial considerations such as remaining a primarily single-income family, purchasing a home that met our needs but gave us ample wiggle room in our budget, and creating a budget for curriculum and schooling aids. (Full disclosure: I still struggle with spur-of-the-moment Amazon book buys. I am frugal with everything else, but show me a well-constructed anthology and I my penny pinching goes out the window.)
With all of our planning and talking one thing we neglected to consider was the impact that full-time home education would have on our marriage. What happens to a marriage when one partner (or perhaps both) devote the majority of their time to raising and educating their children? Does intimacy necessarily get lost among curriculum choices, fieldtrips, co-ops, fatigue, and financial burdens? Does homeschooling mean that the needs of your children are now elevated above your marriage? I can answer the last two questions with a resounding “No!’ but the question of the impact of homeschooling on the relationship between parents is a bit more complex. These are the top 3 ways in which our decision to homeschool has, for better or worse, impacted my relationship with my husband.
1. We have had to have tough conversations about our vision, core values and beliefs.
You would be amazed at the kinds of questions that arise over the course of planning out an education. What do we want our children to know? What are the non-negotiables? What is important to us? Are we pointing them towards college and academic achievement or is there some other way to measure success? I know that parents across the board answer these questions for their children. For us though, the answers to those questions also carry the responsibility of constructing an education that is in line with our beliefs. The freedom to tailor-make an education for our kids, as opposed to partnering with a school, comes with the responsibility of really thinking and talking out our choices. In the midst of that we have been forced to talk about our own educations, our family values, our childhoods and interactions with our teachers and parents. I can’t say that all of these conversations have been pleasant. Sometimes we have discovered that we have opposing views and priorities. Nevertheless, we are talking and as we talk we get closer to one another.
2. I have gotten to see aspects of my husband that draw me closer to him.
Full disclosure: My husband has always been fine. Homeschool dad or not, he probably would have remained firmly in his position for the rest of our days. Somehow though, as we have walked out this homeschooling journey, he has managed to surpass my wildest fantasies.
He is my sounding board. (AKA wisdom is sexy) Although, I am the primary educator in our home, my husband does not take a passive approach to home education. He listens intently and provides feedback on my curriculum decisions and other concerns. He also gets in where he fits in! He found a great language curriculum that we are using for our girls. He teaches them music appreciation and helps with their piano training. He seeks out ways to enrich the education we provide at home. Mama doesn’t know everything and Daddy hops in at every turn.
He believes in our vision (AKA: Faith is sexy) Times get hard. Sometimes I neglect self- care and I get weary. Honestly sometime my introverted nature balks at the task of educating these little jokers. The short term obstacles keep me from seeing our vision. When that happens, my husband is the first to notice and he quickly reminds me of what we are building. He really believes in what we are doing. He really believes in me. He really believes in us.
3. We have built flexibility into our lives to invest in our marriage and family.
If there is one attribute that all homeschoolers share, it is an appreciation for freedom and flexibility. I shared in an earlier post about how spoiled I was with making my own schedule and doing things on our own time. This mindset has spread into our approach to our time together as a couple. For example, my husband is often away on business. When he gets home, I have been known to cancel school for the girls so that we can spend time together as a family. I have also been known to send the girls to family’s house a few hours away so that we can spend one-on-one time as a couple. I appreciate the freedom of not having to call a school to explain our family’s needs. Our family once left for a month overseas to spend time with my husband while he was away. There was another occasion when we did a prolonged road trip up the East Coast to join him for a temporary assignment. We did a unit study on the history of those states along the way. We get to build our life as we desire it and prioritize our family and relationship.
Although our family has completely leaned in to homeschooling, we recognize that one day these little jokers are going to move on. We want to ensure that we not only maintain our relationship and grow in our intimacy during these challenging years, but we endeavor to live our marriage well before our children so that they can see a passionate, affectionate, and persevering love. That would be the greatest lesson we could ever teach.
Happy Valentine’s Day to young your family! Let me know how you and your spouse maintain your marriage as you raise your children. Like, comment, and share below.