Rumors have been swirling the last few months concerning the marriage of Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Tom Brady and his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen –speculation exacerbated by the future Hall of Famer’s surprise eleven-day absence from training camp earlier this summer.
Brady and Bundchen have two children together, and the quarterback is father to another son from a previous relationship.
Reports suggest Brady’s decision to unretire from the NFL fueled the marital and family tension – a fact seemingly alluded to in an interview with Bundchen that was released earlier this week.
Of course, family dynamics are fluid and complex. Very few issues in a marriage are ever attributable to just one thing. In a bizarre turn several years ago, Brady referred to his wife as a “witch” who makes an “altar” to him before games, verbally repeating a series of mantras and even using healing stones and other rituals. Media laughed. But these things are no laughing matter.
But speaking to Elle magazine, which was just published this week, Gisele Bundchen reflected on her husband’s football career:
“Obviously, I have my concerns—this is a very violent sport, and I have my children and I would like him to be more present,” she said.
Has she asked him to retire or pull back?
“I have definitely had those conversations with him over and over again,” she added. “But ultimately, I feel that everybody has to make a decision that works for [them]. He needs to follow his joy, too.”
Career tension in a marriage is nothing new. For time immemorial, husbands and wives have navigated the challenges of work and home life. Even though things changed dramatically with the advent of the industrial revolution, which took (mostly) men from the farms and fields near home and put them in factories and offices farther away, balancing labor demands and life with the family is an age-old issue.
But do you have the luxury of following or pursuing your “joy” if that pursuit is at odds with your spouse’s wishes – and comes at the expense of your children?
Scripture may be silent on how parents might make their living, but it’s more explicit regarding how we should behave toward our children.
We read fathers are supposed to teach their children (Proverbs 22:6), spend time with them (Deut. 6:6-9), show compassion (Psalm 103:13), be a good example (2 Cor. 3:2-3), be careful not to provoke them (Col. 3:21) – all the while correcting them in love (Hebrews 12:7-11).
Next to our relationship with God, our marriage and our role as dad or mom are our major responsibilities. You won’t find anything in the Bible giving dads or moms a free pass to selfishly pursue their hopes and dreams to the detriment of a spouse or children.
The pursuit of personal fulfillment has become big business, especially in an increasingly well-heeled world. It’s important to take care of ourselves, and fun and leisure are important elements of a healthy life. But when you become a parent, you’re surrendering and sacrificing some of your freedom for the good of your children.
The very best news is that in the end, Christian moms and dads who give up some of their time and interests for the sake of their children may not really be giving up anything meaningful at all.
Gisele Bundchen suggested Tom Brady needed to follow his “joy” on the gridiron – but true and lasting satisfaction will never be found on the football field.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth,” we read in one of John’s letters (3 John 4) – a reminder that what we’re “giving up” as parents is that which we cannot keep – and receiving in return that which we cannot lose.
Photo from Gisele Bundchen Instagram.