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.