Being a family man within the NFL can be tough. Being away for a good portion of each week during the season is hard, but it does cause me to place a greater intentionality on the times my wife, Yesenia, and I do get to spend together. In the same way, I try to be as present and attentive to my children every day. Whether I talk to them on FaceTime, on the phone or in person, I want them to always know how much their dad cares for them.
My family has needs whether I’m home or not, and as the father, it’s my job to make sure these needs are met. I make sure my wife has quality time with me as well as time to herself. The majority of the time she’s talking to a 5-, 3-, and 1-year-old, so she needs someone not only to talk to, but to listen to her.
Over the years, I’ve realized how important that is to her, so I try to provide a listening ear as much as I can. When I’m gone, I make sure there are other people who can help with the kids so she can get out and go to her women’s prayer group and to the gym. Little things like that go a long way.
When Yesenia and I first got married, I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to be the typical dad who comes home from work, grabs a beer and checks out in front of the television. I want to be there to take my kids to their after-school activities and discover what’s important to them. I want to be involved not only in my kids’ lives, but in my wife’s life as much as I can. A sacrificial marriage means giving up things that you might want to do, or just not choosing the easy way. It means putting your family’s needs above your own and that’s what I aim to do.
Usually when I get home from work, I’m exhausted — mentally and physically. I’ve had conversations with people all day and the last thing I want to do is have another one, but that’s what my wife needs. So she knows to give me 15-20 minutes to myself when I get home to collect my thoughts and refocus my mindset, then I can give more of myself to her and the kids.
I need to replace my competitive mindset (what we call my “warrior-attitude”) to be able to be the husband and father I need to be at home. I don’t want to be another athlete who goes home to their wife only to maintain the competitive, argumentative attitude they have on the field. She deserves more than that. We’re on the same team; we’re not against each other. We’re striving together for the same goal.
Sacrificial love is who Christ is. I find that the more I spend time with Him, the more I portray His qualities in my own life. The more I read about Him in His Word, or spend time in prayer, or just talk with Him, the better I understand the great love He has for all of humanity. It rubs off on you. Just like when you are around other people — in the Church or outside of it — who are displaying a sacrificial love for others, it’s contagious.
The closer you cling to Him, the more you start acting like Him. That’s who I want to be.
— Trey Burton, Chicago Bears tight end
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.