*this is a guest post from Sarah Ann of Faith Along the Way
It was the end of a long week when he slumped through the front door; defeated by the weight of the world. The twinkle had vanished from his eyes and his smile seemed forced and weak.
Usually vibrant and joyful, my husband looked worn and weary. Mumbling something about another bad day at the office, he retreated upstairs for a few minutes of solitude.
The problem solver in me immediately went into crisis mode as I wracked my brain for solutions to his lofty problems. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. While I wanted to be the one to dry his tears, erase his hurts and be a soft place for him to land, men process problems way differently than women.
My gut instinct was to help him the way I would want to be helped after a rough day. I would want to talk it through, have a good cry and dive into a bowl of chocolate ice cream, but that’s not the way men handle life when it’s hard.
I simply couldn’t help him the way I would counsel a female friend. I needed to help my struggling husband the way he processes conflict, not the way that I do.
Immediately I realized I’d been counseling him wrong our 13 years of marriage. While he was too kind to mention that my tactics were off base, I felt sad that I’d missed the mark after all of these years.
I began praying for wisdom and that God would lead me to practical ways to help my husband in his time of need. After talking with him and getting his input on how to encourage him, here’s the new ways I’m helping him when life is hard. (And it’s working, too!)
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Give him space to think and process
Men aren’t like women and don’t need to discuss every last detail of their pain and hurt. In fact, they crave space to think, brood and figure out life.
When we, the chatty women, force them to talk about their feelings before they’re ready or want to, it can cause tension and irritation in a relationship. The best thing we can do is to wait until they’ve processed the hurts and are ready to open up.
But be forewarned women, even when they do share their struggles, it may not be to the level we hope.
Don’t force solutions on him
While I may truly have great ways to help solve his struggles, forcing them on him is never a good idea. He may be more apt to listen to my ideas when the moment is calm and not stressful and I gently bring up solutions. When I am forceful and demanding, he may be frustrated and not really listen.
Don’t broach new ideas when he’s busy
Guys, as wonderful as they are, tend to struggle with multi-tasking more than women. When’s he’s distracted and busy doing something else, you may not have his full attention. It’s hard to discuss tough subject when you don’t have his full attention and it may be best to pick a better time to talk.
Encourage him as much as possible
Men like to feel needed and in control. When life is spiraling out of control, it’s hard to process messy feelings and many men end up feeling like failures.
Make your home a safe haven to share the ups and downs of life. Offer an encouraging word and point him to the hope of the Lord, even when all seems bleak.
Sometimes it’s best to practice the art of silence and know when to keep our opinion to ourselves. Silence is not always easy, but sometimes it’s best to just smile and offer a hug instead.
Make him feel like a man
I recently took a poll in my Facebook Group for families, The Strong Family Project, and the #1 way women helped a struggling husband is through sex. Reminding him that he is still a man and king of the castle is a great way to help through tough times and let him know you’re still his biggest cheerleader.
Join the daily challenges and family encouragement in The Strong Family Project Facebook Group! We’d love to have you be a part of this uplifting community who prays for and with each other.
Navigating marriage when a man is struggling can be tough, ladies, but it is doable. Find strategies that work for your relationship and continue to pray for him as he wrestles with life. With God’s help, you can weather any storm!
How do you help your hubby when he’s down and needs encouragement?
Sarah Ann is the writer behind Faith Along the Way, where she encourages faith-filled family, health and home. As a perfectly imperfect wife and special needs mom, she clings to Jesus and a cold glass of Plexus to get through each day with grace and laughter. She enjoys writing, studying God’s Word and spending time with family and friends. When’s she’s not chasing kids or up to her eyeballs in laundry, she loves to escape to her favorite stores to bargain hunt and find the best deals possible. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.