{GUEST POST} Wife of a Musician: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the John

Today’s guest post is written by my lovely wife Eleanor. Eleanor is a high school history teacher in Orange County, California and an amateur singer, guitar player, and ukulele player. Make sure you check out her other guest posts here.


About four years into our dating relationship, John and I broke up. Obviously this story has a happy ending as we are married with two kids now, but we were broken up for about five months in 2010. There were many reasons for this temporary split, most of which I won’t be going into here, but one of the reasons was this:

I was worried about potentially someday marrying a musician.

This main worry breaks into two smaller worries, which I feel I should outline before explaining how I learned to stop worrying and love the John.

First the obvious: I was worried about the economic stability of John being a full time musician.

May 2010 before the breakup, so young and blissfully unaware of what was about to befall us. Also the terrible mustache and goatee were my idea. Sorry John!

May 2010 before the breakup, so young and blissfully unaware of what was about to befall us. Also the terrible mustache and goatee were my idea. Sorry John!

Prior to our breakup, John had been in the MAT program at USC earning his teaching credential. John had known for years he wanted to be a music teacher, mostly because he knew that was a stable profession in which he could do music, and his drive had convinced me to get my credential too. I envisioned us both teaching, taking big vacations on our summers off together, and attending his choir concerts to cheer on his students, who would call me Mrs. Zechiel.

Near the end of our respective credential programs, John had a couple of interviews. One of these went well, and he was offered a full time position teaching music at a Christian school. We were walking around the mall (where many life altering events occur) when he told me he didn’t want to accept the job. Not only that, but he didn’t want to be a music teacher anymore.

In shock, and probably panic, I asked what he did intend to do. He told me his music transcription business was really taking off and he planned to play gigs to fill in the gaps. That his true passion was playing music, and while he liked kids, he didn’t want to deal with the bureaucracy and misery of teaching and dealing with parents and administrators when he could essentially be his own boss.

I was upset. What about health insurance? What about vacations? What about a stable paycheck? John brushed these worries aside, but the pragmatic part of me panicked, envisioning a future in which he was always working, scrounging to make ends meet and never managing to afford a home, children, or to take time off to go on vacation. And what about his dream? And mine? Of being teachers together and changing lives? We could still do that in different ways, he argued.

So the pragmatics were one concern. The other? I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but the second concern was about what this meant for John’s character and ambition. Not wanting to deal with bureaucracy - did that mean he went into the classroom, realized it was hard, and just quit? What else, what other dreams, might he quit on?

Again, this was one of many concerns that led to out temporary breakup, and it was during our months apart that a mutual friend told me something that changed my mind.

When we broke up, one of our musical friends took pity on me and invited me to start singing on Sundays with the worship team at a local church. I had worked with the other musicians and the worship director before in an acapella group (so had John, but they didn’t need a pianist), and since I couldn’t go back to the church John played at once we broke up, I was pathetically grateful to feel included and accepted somewhere else.

If you must watch, here’s a very low resolution recording for our acapella show just days after we broke up. Please don't judge us. We were young.

It was during one of our rehearsals, probably about four months into the breakup, that the worship director (Jefferson, if you read this I hope you learn that you basically saved our marriage, so thanks for that!) told me what a struggle it was to be a gigging musician.

I don’t think I said anything, but I listened as he described a life I felt like I would have endured with John: working continuously, working odd hours, making not very much money. But then (and I don’t remember the exact words so I’m paraphrasing here) he told me something along the following lines:

You know the best part is getting to do what you love, and working hard to support your family while following your dream. And I’m so grateful for my wife’s support.

That comment struck me like a literal blow, and I realized that John had tried to tell me this in his own way. Yes, it might be hard sometimes, but this was his real dream, and he would work hard to make sure we did have enough and we did see each other.

Engagement picture from November 2011. See, it all worked out!

Engagement picture from November 2011. See, it all worked out!

Did I instantly run into John’s arms and beg for forgiveness? No. It took another month of seeing each other and working out some of my personal fears until we tentatively rekindled our relationship.

But what Jefferson told me softened my heart, and I let go of the worry and the part of me that needed John to be a teacher and realized I could love him just as he was: a musician, and a dreamer.

We got back together in November of 2010. A year later we got engaged, and eight months later we were married.

Has it always been easy? Hell no (can I say that here?). There are days when John does gigs or works weird hours that I hate. There are times our schedules conflict and times we barely see each other, and it’s hard and we still fight sometimes about that. But I no longer need John to be someone he’s not, and I love him regardless of what he does for work.

Marrying a musician has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m glad I learned to stop worrying and love the John.

Also, his church job finally gave him health insurance. That helped.