PROVERBS 11:25 “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
I’m about to give you a front-row ticket. It might not be an NFL playoff game, but lean in and listen because you’re about to be the proverbial fly on the wall to a fairly common discussion in our kitchen:
It’s 5:30 pm, and the kids have all been home (aka climbing the walls) for hours; the house is an explosion of random kid junk. I’m making dinner, and Josh (my husband) just walked in from work.
Me: quiet, withdrawn, washing dishes with “that look” on my face
Him: “Something wrong, babe? You ok?”
Me: “Honestly? I’m super overwhelmed right now.”
Me: “I mean, the kids have been running around like crazy people, the baby won’t stop whining, the house is a freaking disaster, and I just realized I don’t have everything for dinner. I’m behind on orders from the shop. Zoe was really needy and I still haven’t planned for my meeting tomorrow.”
Him: “Ok! Let me just go change and I’ll take the boys to karate and you can have a break.”
I was truly grateful for his help.
But maybe you’ve heard the old “I don’t want you to fix it! I want you to listen!” line a time or two. Helping your wife and making her feel seen and heard are not mutually exclusive. So my challenge to you is to go deeper. Communicate effectively.
Because of that overwhelmedness, your wife feels? Or frustration? Or sadness? It’s a symptom. It’s not the main issue.
Let me share three enormous problems that those emotions can stem from:
- Basic needs are not being met: Sleep, regular (good) food, hydration, fresh air, and emotional and mental rest.
- Too many plates in the air: trying to manage too many things. Not enough margin.
- Inner hurt that isn’t being dealt with in her life. This is the hardest one because it’s easy to cover up with other distractions, but the piece of sand in her eye causes everything else to malfunction.
Listen, we’re all carrying heavy burdens. You carry them too. Maybe the fresh air your wife craves (maybe what you crave) is empathy.
When my husband takes the time to notice my day-to-day (including how I feel about those things) and seeks to understand it better, it changes everything.
How To Talk With Your Wife
A few ideas that might help get the conversation going:
- “Hey, I know you’re working really hard and doing a lot. Can we look at your normal day and see where we can make some tweaks?”
- “You’re so hot. 😉 But I can also tell you’re exhausted. Go take a nap, and then we can talk about what feels overwhelming right now.”
- “You seem to come alive when you do ______. How can I help you make time for more of that?”
- “I know that _____ was really hurtful. Why don’t you tell me about that?”
- I can’t promise that the path toward a deeper connection with your wife won’t ever get rocky, BUT the reward is excellent and worth every uncomfortable moment it takes to get there.
Did you know there is more to this article?
All these suggestions are still “trying to fix it” for the wife. The truth is, us husbands can go through and entire list of 100 different responses and still fail to connect the right way with the wife. In other words, it’s a deep heart issue that only God knows about and only He can fix for her.
We need to encourage our wives to take their stuff to the Lord because only He knows the root cause for their anxiousness – and only He can fix it.
I’ve been through a lot with my wife and can tell you that half of the time she just wants me to listen and not fix. There’s been times that I’ve asked myself is this even worth it God?… I’ve felt the fire inside of my gut just burn with anger from some of the things my wife would do. I wouldn’t say anything because it was just a dead-end conversation that would turn into a fight. My wife has been through depression, addiction, and resentment throughout our marriage. The one thing my wife couldn’t stand was when people told her just to turn it over to God. She already knew that, she prayed, she cried out, she loved the Lord but also knew that we lived in a fallen world. God has given us people and tools in this life to help us through the struggles. She never lost sight of God even if she returned to the struggles. The one thing I didnt do was leave her. I supported her, encouraged her, loved her, and 20yrs later we’re still together. Marriage has been amazing these last five years. We’ve have grown much closer together and with God. We pray regularly together which was very awkward at first. Praying wasn’t something we saw our parents do together.
Gregory, thank you for sharing that with us. Marital struggles is much more common than most people realize and it is the number one prayer request we get here at Uncommen. Sometimes it’s the husband or wife struggling with something and sometimes it’s just life. Jesus told us there would be trials and tribulations. When my family and I went through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, it really brought us closer to God and closer to each other. Use this time to strengthen your bond with God and your wife. Communicate openly but always with Truth and Grace. Stay Uncommen