How Do I Help My Husband When He’s Hurting?

I often talk about moments when I am hurting mentally, physically and emotionally on here. Most of those hurts have simply come from life throwing its challenges at me. However, many have also come from witnessing my husband’s pain. It’s a sickening hurt, and I absolutely hate it.

What do I mean by “sickening hurt?” When my husband is struggling with life’s punches, I suffer silently while trying to be both supportive and keep my distance in order for him to deal. For a long time, I didn’t know how to do both of those things for him. I could only do one at a time. I was either pestering him with “Are you okay?” every 10 minutes, or keeping too far of a distance and allowing him to be content with healing the way men were taught to heal. “Don’t cry.”  “Don’t express your feelings, that’s weak.” “Suck it up, and keep it moving.” While those things work for smaller situations, they are the furthest things from being healthy and present mentally, physically and emotionally when dealing with difficult circumstances. Contrary to belief, it is perfectly fine to support your man when he is down. Social media and reality television have portrayed supporting men in a negative light. It’s almost as if women are either like doormats and let the men walk all over them, or they feel like supporting their man means he thinks she’s his mother.

I’ve known my husband since I was 10, and we’ve literally grown up with one another. He’s the mumbo sauce to my chicken (it’s a DC thing). So it truly hurts me to see him dealing with life knowing that there isn’t much I can do. I know many women experience this in their relationships. So how do we help? What do we do during these moments? I’m no expert or relationship guru, but I’ll share what I’ve learned and what I practice.

Ask him what problem(s) he is facing. By simply asking your partner, “What’s going on  babe?” opens the lines of communication. It’s the first step to letting him know you care, and you’ve noticed that he seems bothered by something.

Listen to him. Don’t speak. Just listen. We often ask our partners “What’s wrong?” and ask him to communicate, but then we take over the convo. Effective communication requires listening. You can’t ask him to talk, and then you do all the talking. Most men were raised in an environment of “Talking about your feelings is a sign of weakness.” When we create a safe place for our partner to open up, it becomes easier for him in the future.

Ask him is there a specific way that he needs you to support him. We often assume that we are supporting our significant other (S.O.) the way that he needs to be supported, but it could be the opposite of what he needs. Make attempts to speak his love language, however, it takes nothing to ask him “How can I support you?” When I know there’s nothing I can do, I simply ask my husband, “What would you like me to include in my prayer for you?”

Speak life into him, and let him know that you are there for him whenever he needs you. Sometimes, we don’t know how deep a problem is rooted with our S.O. They could have made every attempt at working on themselves before becoming committed to you, and then one incident stirs up a deep rooted issue. Although we are adults, we are still individuals who are constantly evolving. We need a lot of grace! Speak positivity into your man! Remind him of how resilient he is. Remind him he is an overcomer.

Sex is not the answer. Sex only pleases the surface and does nothing for the underlying issue. I personally believe sex can be a form of healing or therapy, but only after the issue has been addressed and worked on. Oxytocin is released when two are engaging in sexual intercourse. It is the same chemical that is released when a mother gives birth to her baby or when she breastfeeds. So, yes. Sex works, but it is not the problem solver.

Pray for him. Pray for yourself. Pray for your family. We are only human. More often, we need God to work on our partner’s behalf. We also need God to strengthen us during this time. While he’s healing, he may come off as distant, needy, a jerk, or not himself. It takes a lot of help from God to not spaz on him. Dealing with life doesn’t give him the excuse to walk around angry at the world or you, but it could happen. Pray for your strength, pray for healing and covering over your entire family. If you share children, pray for your children. It’s important that they see us have weak moments so they won’t grow up feeling like failures when they run into problems. Reassure them it’s nothing they’ve done. It is also important to explain to them that when they become adults that there will be seasons where they are having a rough time. Continue to pray that your children are able to navigate through their mental and emotional issues healthily.

Encourage him to seek therapy. For a long time in the black community, seeking therapy has been viewed as a negative thing. Remind him that therapy isn’t a bad thing and doesn’t make him crazy. You can only do but so much. It is not your job to heal him or try and fix him. That is a self thing. Encourage him to continue with therapy even after he has dealt with what was hurting him. Therapy is a great source all year round.

Leave him alone. Allow him to deal. You’ve already told him that the door is open for whenever he needs you. If you’ve opened the door, and he’s told you that he would let you know if he needs something, it’s extremely annoying when you’re in his face constantly or trying to get information out of him. As long as the problem is not with your or your relationship, you have to learn how to support your loved one from a distance. Leaving someone alone doesn’t mean you abandon them. It’s simply the act of giving them some space.

Reach out to your mentor or married friend who has the same values as you. You need support too! This has been one of the best things I’ve done in my life. I have been ready to act a fool toward my husband, and my mentor has helped me to calm down. Let’s face it. We have some amazing friends, but not all are in relationships. If they are in a relationship, they may not handle things the same way as you. You need someone you can lean on, who will challenge you to change your perspective, who will call you out when you’re wrong, and will support you when you’re right.

It’s hard enough dealing with your own issues, and marriage forces you to have to care about another person’s feelings. It’s not an easy fete, and marriage is not for the weak. When your partner is experiencing stress due to personal situations, it can affect both of you together or you two individually. It may affect your conversations with one another, appetites, personality and character, intimacy and more. Let’s be clear, when it comes to men and them dealing with struggle, they can act like real jerks. But I’ll give you one more point that I’ve learned from my mentor. Sometimes you have to sit back and close your mouth. You have to learn that there is a time for every conversation. It’s not in your best interest to address another issue when you already know he’s dealing with something else. You won’t get the feedback you desire, and you’ll end up making things worse for you AND him. When we bring up our issues at the wrong time, we are left with the potential of getting a response that will then change up OUR attitude. Sometimes we have to tell ourselves, “Now is not the right time. If I bring this up a little later, our conversation will be far better than if we address it now.” Pray your strength in the Lord in order to hold your tongue and to present that issue to him at the right time. I’ve learned when you do that, the conversation goes much better!

It’s when we immediately jump down each other’s throats that communication goes out the window. We are no longer talking, but yelling. No longer listening, just hearing sounds. When it gets like that for my husband and I, I’m ready to throw the boxing gloves on.

I’ll close with this. No matter how connected and unified you are with your partner, you’re still two completely different people. The way you like to be supported may not be what your partner desires or needs. Always remember, everyone copes different. Where there is real struggle that can’t be rectified between you two, be open to marriage counseling or couples counseling if you aren’t married. Counseling doesn’t mean that your relationship is on the brink of ending. It’s being proactive when you realize you both need help sorting through some of your relationship issues. Like I said in Should I Remain Calm, or Curse Him Out? it’s better to seek outside support than to dog your partner out behind their back to your friends and loved ones.

Queendom Wife and Mother has literally been a public diary for me. While I am a private person, I know that sharing my truth will resonate with someone. Writing my feelings and thoughts will not only help me, but others too. Again, I’m no expert. What works for me may not work for you. My spiritual beliefs may not be your belief. Whatever you do, make sure you fill your partner up with positivity when they feel the world is falling on them.

 

Should I Remain Calm, or Curse Him Out?

It’s a known fact that when you’re in a relationship, at some point you and your partner will disagree. That doesn’t mean that each time you disagree it will rock your foundation. In my opinion, a disagreement in a relationship is the outcome of two completely different people trying to either make the other conform to their ways, or the two are trying to understand one another and meet on common grounds. Attitudes soar in disagreements and then it turns into an argument. In those intense moments, it’s super important to think about what your response or reaction will be. Effective communication is best. A screaming match, sleeping in separate rooms, going out drinking, or cheating won’t correct any issue within your relationship. Another mistake people make is talking about their partner terribly to family and friends when an argument has taken place.

We often make the mistake of dogging our spouse out to others behind their back. Simply put, words hurt. Even though you’re not saying it to them directly, you’re planting seeds about them in other people and putting it out there into the universe. Your words hold weight. Scripture says that the power of life and death lie within our tongues. We have to remember that old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” No matter how mad you are, no matter how sad you are… Think about what you’re saying before you say it. This doesn’t mean you have to sit quietly and suppress your emotions. It’s more so the act of practicing self control and loving your spouse through your pain and/or anger. Most of the time it’s not what our partners are saying, but it’s how they’re saying it that truly affects us.

Our words tend to be a reflection of our heart.

I don’t know how many times my friends and I and have had to reset our thoughts about each other’s boyfriends because we only spoke about the negative aspects of our relationships. We share all of our negative thoughts about our partners, never putting an emphasis on the good they do. In turn, we’re sowing a seed in ourselves and those around us. Now, if you’re in a relationship with a jerk, it is what it is. There’s no good to report.

So… should I keep calm or curse him out? Usually my initial thought is to curse him out and throw something at him, but I choose to stay calm. Why? Because although my feelings are valid, they may only be for the moment. I have to take the necessary time to assess what my husband has said to me to see if I truly agree or disagree. If I respond the wrong way immediately, it makes it hard to come back and remedy the situation.

This isn’t always an easy task. Most times I feel like I’m shutting down my feelings and letting him “win.” However, when I take the time to calm down, I’m able to come back to him and ask pertinent questions about what he said. Afterwards, I’m either able to confirm the feelings I felt or realize that I didn’t hear any of what he said correctly. I tend to shut my husband out after I hear the first point that I disagree with and my emotions naturally take over.

A few months ago, my husband and I were in a deep debate about the future of our family, and it was taking a toll on both of us. I was seriously sick because it was the first time we actually disagreed and neither of us were hinting at conceding to the other. We couldn’t see eye-to-eye, and I was confident in my feelings. I had no plans of backing down. We eventually softened our hearts to one another, but it was after a lot of prayer and guidance from my spiritual mentor. Guess what? My stance was valid, but my way turned out to be the wrong way.  Had we gone with my decision, we would have surely suffered. I gratefully stepped back, and let God and my husband do the work. I wanted to curse him out every time I spoke to him, and I wanted to run to my mother and friends and talk badly about him just so that I could hear “yeah you are so right.” I’m glad I didn’t. Instead, I prayed without ceasing and sought godly advice from those loved ones.

Over the years, I’ve matured gracefully and gained a great circle of accountability. I had no need to speak ill about my husband to my support system because they were able to offer sound advice rather than just their opinions. Get your mind right, learn how to communicate effectively, pray without ceasing for yourself, your partner and your relationship, and get your circle in order! Lastly, “be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.”

 

 

Useless Nipples, Useful Hands

Ever since I gave birth to my second daughter a year ago, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a breastfeeding mother say or saw a social media post where she refers to her spouses’ nipples as useless. I often see a social media post where a woman vents about how she has been caring for her children, cleaning, cooking, and on top of that breastfeeding her child on demand. All that hard work just for her spouse to come home, run to the bathroom, eat and then space out before falling asleep. That was me… I am that mother… She is me…

Although I see the mother’s point of view clearly, I had to change my perspective and see what it’s like for the father/spouse in this situation. Well… from a good and caring husband/father’s perspective. No, he hasn’t been at home cooking, cleaning, or tending to the children all day, but he has been at work all day. If you’re a stay-at-home mother who doesn’t work from home, well that means he takes care of all the financial needs. The weight of the world is on his shoulders. He has to make sure there is food to put on the table each day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks), electricity, water and to make sure a roof stays over the family’s head. Depending on where you live, he hits rush hour traffic going and coming home from work, which is hassle itself. If you’ve worked before, you also know the feeling of having an unsuccessful day at work, feeling defeated, fearful of losing your job or not getting a promotion as well. You never know, he may HATE his job, but sticks it out because he understands his responsibilities. When he comes home, he probably feels joy in his heart to see his beautiful wife and children, but he just needs a moment of relief. Not to be tasked with chores as soon as he enters his safe place—home.

Now I know many will read this and say, well his job doesn’t end when he gets home. He’s a husband and father so it’s his duty to help out. This is all true. He knows that being a father and husband never ends. Put yourself in his shoes for a minute. I imagine my husband coming straight home and having his moment of relaxation interrupted to be equivalent to me finally getting a break in the bathroom and my children knock on the door because they want to know if I’m ok. How about when a mother has finally gotten the children to bed, she pours a glass of wine, turns her show on, and her kids comes out of the room and says they’re thirsty. In that moment, all she is wishing for is a break. Just a little “me” time before having to doing anything else that requires an effort.

When I changed my perspective, I had to think about how I greeted my husband. I have the tendency to think I’m being gentle and kind, but my facial expression and energy reads stress and irritation. That sets off smoke signals for him to know what he’s in for. I try to give him at least an hour to get himself together and then slowly unload some tasks on him. Immediately immersing him into more work usually stirred up frustration and caused unnecessary disagreements between us. Our disagreements rarely turn into arguments, but they leave us fuming inside. Everything is intensified when the children are screaming in the background, or worse… they’re watching and listening as you go back and forth.

Being able to let your needs and requests be known to your partner requires a lot of communication from both individuals. As mothers, both working and stay-at-home, we have to think about what tasks we need the most help with. When we discuss them with our partners, and agree to let him do them, we have to LET HIM DO IT! I say that with a passion because I am that wife. The one who asks her husband to do something, see him doing it wrong and then say never mind I’ll do it! Show him how to do it, and then let him do it.

Sometimes we may have everything under control with our children but need more help around the house to relieve ourselves from being overwhelmed. It may be helpful to write down all the things you have to do daily around the house and with the children, and then ask your spouse what he feels most comfortable doing.  For example, my husband prefers that I bathe our daughters. He only feels comfortable giving them a bath when I’m not around to do it. Luckily our oldest no longer needs assistance, just slight guidance and reminders. We haven’t agreed to it yet, but if I asked him to feed the girls or tuck them in and read a bedtime story, I’m confident he would do it.

Majority of the time, it comes down to communicating your needs and compromising. My husband offers to wash the dishes, but I don’t like the way he washes them. He uses too much soap and it takes what feels like 5 hours! However, I love when he does the laundry. He’s efficient and gets the job done. He doesn’t have to re-wash the clothes three times because he forgot to put them in the dryer. He doesn’t have to wash them two more times because he forgot to turn the dryer on. In addition, he actually folds and puts the clothes away right away. He’s very anal about how the clothes are folded and placed in the closet, so it works in my favor! It’s a give and take process that we had to figure out.

Not all men are created equal, and I completely understand that. Some spouses are complete butt-holes and believe that since you’re home all day you should be able to do it all. They grew up with a mother or grandmother who stayed home and took care of all the house duties while her husband worked. That’s not always realistic. Other men don’t have a problem with helping. They tend to show discomfort or greet us with an attitude because they can already sense the vibe that is radiating from us. I can imagine a man finding it pointless to try when they have already been counted out as useless and unable to provide any assistance or help. What’s the point in trying if you’re thought poorly of?

I had to rid myself of some of the struggle and delegate some of the hard work to my husband. He may have useless nipples, but his hands are useful. I choose to let him use them! In the early months of our youngest daughter’s life, after breastfeeding, I would hand the her to him for skin-to-skin contact or cuddle time. It made him feel more involved and useful. Since I breastfed more than I used pumped milk, he would always say, “I can handle her once she’s fed.” “Otherwise in the middle of the night, or when I’m sitting here and she’s crying, there’s nothing I can do for her.”

If your spouse doesn’t know how to cook, give him a designated day to choose dinner for you all to eat and let him pick it up on the way home. My husband spends majority of his time away at work, so I plan to use this method when he gets home. When we get back to being consistent about our date nights, I plan to find a cooking class so that he can gain more confidence in the kitchen. There are ways to make this dynamic work, we just have to be willing to make it work. That’s where being a couple is really tested and strengthened. It’s when you really have to act as a team to get things done. When things aren’t working out, you come together and figure out another plan. Giving up shouldn’t an option.

When things in the house go haywire, it can be taxing on a woman’s mental health. When things at home are out-of-order, I always feel like my life is out of order.  As mothers and wives, we can save ourselves a lot of stress if we use our words more effectively and allow our husbands to step up.

This post isn’t meant to shoot down women and lift men up on a pedestal, giving them excuses. I also know that help from a partner isn’t an option for single mothers. I’m married, but my husband is gone a lot, so I know the struggle. However, I am a woman who believes in holding herself accountable. It’s not always our significant others who don’t want to do anything. Sometimes we spit on their attempts because they don’t look the way we want them to. In my opinion, men aren’t gifted with the natural instincts to parenthood like mother’s are. It’s not always easy for them to jump up and step in like it is for a mother. I have to show my husband daily and explain a lot to him. THAT’S OK! The fact is that he is willing to learn, try, and then master his skills.

I. AM. NOT. PERFECT…. MY. LIFE. IS. NOT. PERFECT. My husband and I discussed a lot before getting married. The matters that we didn’t address are now improving after recently discovering our love languages. You can read more about that in Found My Love Language.

Ultimately, it’s best that we discuss household chores with our partners and see what their mindset is like BEFORE marriage and cohabitating. We can then see if they apply gender roles to certain tasks or don’t believe in doing anything around the house. After that, we can make an informed decision on whether to move forward with him or let him go. Otherwise, lower your expectations. The higher they are, the bigger the disappointment. I talk about this a lot in my post Standards vs. Expectations.