Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Is there a time when your husband was struggling with problems at work, health issues, or some kind of spiritual battle? How did you respond?
Let’s look at two different wives’ responses to their husbands during a time when his job was precarious and he was very stressed (these are fictionalized accounts and names – but are based on real life situations):
1. Shelly and Scott –
Scott’s boss seemed determined to try to make Scott, a manager, look bad. He wrote him up for some very minor issues and made a habit out of screaming demeaning things to Scott and even insulting him in front of the employees he supervised. Scott knew that his job was on the line every day when he went in to work. The stress was definitely affecting him. He was starting to have symptoms of stomach ulcers and migraines. He would just get a new job if he could, but with the economy the way it has been the past few years, there were no other jobs like his to be found. Scott knew his wife and children depended greatly upon his income and he felt a huge weight of responsibility to provide for them well and to protect them financially. Losing his job – in his mind – would mean total failure as a man and as a husband and father. He tried to pray. Sometimes he could barely find the words. He was getting really worried that any day now he might be fired. Often, he would come home and just sit in front of the tv all night – trying to distract himself from the burdens on his shoulders. He became withdrawn and depressed.
Shelly noticed how stressed Scott was and had been listening when he talked about his boss at work and how difficult things have been. She prayed for him daily and trusted God to work in his job situation. Shelly also made sure to give Scott more grace during this time – understanding that he had so much on his mind. She didn’t criticize, lecture or give him unsolicited advice. She just told him she had faith in him to handle himself with integrity and that she knew he would do a great job. She talked about the things she genuinely admired about him. She thanked him for providing so well for the family, and made sure to be available to listen if he wanted to talk. She also made sure that she spoke highly of him to their children and others. And she often volunteered to give him a massage and joyfully made herself physically available to him. She had to pick up the slack a bit more around the house because Scott was so down. She was also very careful to cut her spending as much as she could (without complaining) to ease some of the financial stress on Scott’s mind. She understood why he felt so overwhelmed. Most of all, she trusted God to work in his life and to lead him according to His will – so she didn’t freak out herself, but trusted in God’s sovereignty.
2. Betty and Will
Will had a similar situation at work as Scott’s. He was very concerned that he may suddenly lose his job, the family’s insurance coverage and financial security. As the intolerable situation continued on for many months, he sank into depression. Going to work was a nightmare. He felt completely disrespected there by his supervisor even though he was very competent in his field and his employees respected him. The supervisor was intent on trying to make Will look bad to the “higher ups” and to his own employees. He also blamed Will for things that were actually the supervisor’s own fault. Will knew that if he lost his job, the family wouldn’t be able to afford their mortgage or groceries or have any medical insurance. He got irritable at home a lot. He wasn’t sleeping well, was having trouble concentrating and began having a lot of stomach pain. He often snapped at the children. He rarely shared his job situation concerns with Betty. He learned long ago that it was not safe to share vulnerability with her. He was having trouble trusting God to provide for him and his family and sometimes thought that it might be better if he was dead. He told no one about his despair and about the crushing weight he carried.
Betty noticed how irritable and withdrawn Will was and started complaining to her family and friends about what an unloving husband he was and how he had forgotten her birthday. She even posted comments on Facebook about what an uninvolved father he was and how unfair it was that she had to be married to an “idiot like him.” He overheard her on the phone talking to her best friend from church, “Some ‘Christian husband’ Will is! He doesn’t even pray with me. And he doesn’t spend time listening to my feelings. He completely ignores my needs. I wish he was like your husband. You have it so good. I’m totally jealous of you. If I had known marriage to Will would be like this, I never would have married him.”
Betty tried to make Will talk to her about things, and when he shut down, she would criticize him as being a “failure as a husband” and in her pain, she told him, “You’re never going to amount to anything!” She told him often all the things that she expected him to do for her and how disappointed she was that he “wouldn’t even try to be a decent husband and father.” Then she would say things like, “If anything is going to get done around here, I’m obviously the one who will have to do it. I can’t trust you with anything! Why on earth did I ever marry you!?!?” She told him, “If you were a REAL man, you’d help me with the chores every night, you’d play with the kids for at least 30 minutes, you’d read the Bible to us and pray with us and you’d write me an email every day telling me how much you love me. You obviously care NOTHING about me or the kids. All you do is watch tv at night. What kind of awful example is that for our children? And why haven’t you taken out the trash yet? I told you to do that 10 minutes ago!” She became convinced that he was the worst husband on the planet and made sure he knew exactly how she felt. She got upset if he touched her after how unloved she felt. So she would tell him she was tired and needed to go to sleep. That would show him!
1. Which wife do you relate to most and why?
Even just a few disparaging comments from a wife to a husband in private can bring him down. Sometimes seemingly innocent remarks on our end can feel like a knife in our husbands’ backs. It doesn’t have to be as severe as Betty’s example here for a husband to feel disrespected, betrayed, hopeless and paralyzed by failure.
2. If you were a husband, which wife’s response would most inspire you to get through that difficult time at work and which wife’s response would make you feel even more despair? Which wife most honors Christ in her approach?
3. How can you bless your husband and promote unity, encouragement, faith in God, trust in your husband and how can God use you to inspire your man in a difficult time you may be facing?
4. Does your husband know that you “have his back,” that you are “on his team”? If so, how does he know? If not, what might God want you to change to create a team spirit in your marriage?
5. Does your husband know he has your support even when things go wrong and even if he makes a mistake? How does he know? What could you do to show him?
6. Does your husband know that you have plenty of grace, mercy and forgiveness available for him when he messes up? Or does he know that you will hold him in contempt if he makes a mistake?
DARE 27 in The Respect Dare:
1. Make a list of the ways your husband has hurt you – then choose to forgive him and destroy the list
2. Make a list of the ways you have hurt your husband (even if you weren’t aware that what you said or did was hurtful at the time or you were responding out of feeling unloved or hurt). Pray about showing the list to your husband and apologizing (once and without explaining or justifying yourself) for hurting him and not being on his team and supporting him when he needed you. Ask for forgiveness
3. Tell your husband that you are on his team and you want to support him from now on. From the Respect Dare, “Tell him you would like to do whatever it takes to become the person he trusts the most and considers his most valued confidante.”
4. Let him know you will pray for him and he is always welcome to share prayer requests with you.
Ask God to empower you to be the wife of His dreams and to learn to be a shoulder your husband can lean on in times of struggle and difficulty.
What is God showing you through this post today?
What do you believe He wants you to change?
How might you be able to show your husband support right now?
Need some encouragement? You are welcome to leave a comment. 🙂