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.

 

A Different Perspective

The other day I watched clips of an interview of Pastor John Gray where he sat down with the women of Sister Circle. He adorned his First lady, in her absence, with beautiful words about how she is the reason he is the man he is today. He referred to his wife as a “coat” because she was his covering during the rough times of their union. He used the metaphor that she is “two sizes bigger than him, and he is still trying to grow into her.”

My wife has endured more pain birthing me than both of our children. She has sacrificed these last eight years uncovering the painful areas of my manhood and covering the areas that could have exposed me. She deserves anything I can give her… I’m going to live the rest of my life to honor her because she gave me what I couldn’t give myself, which was a chance to heal while still seeing the God in me. “

In the comment section, there were many women who received his message with passion and loved the point he made about his wife being a “covering” and not a “lid” where she would “cap” him. Others weren’t so amused and found it offensive. From what I’ve concluded, many of the opposers felt like Pastor Gray’s statements boasted a message of measuring a woman’s worth by the amount of pain she endures. One man’s response questioned how did Pastor Gray’s wife turn out after having to go through those same eight years of struggle? He wondered what affect her sacrifice had on their children. Another woman expressed her feelings of being fed up with women sticking it out with men who expect their wives to do the things their mothers should have done… raise them. 

While I respect the opinions of those commentators, I absolutely disagree. As a wife and Christian, I disagree with those perspectives. I think those points stand strong when a couple isn’t married, but things change once you exchange those vows. You are standing in front of one another in the presence of the Lord vowing to love one another and build one another up during each high moment and every single low moment. With the right person, your commitment is solidified when you get married. A long-term relationship is not the same. 

For most, divorce is not an option and has been taken off the table. So, because one runs into trouble that doesn’t clear up in a few months or even a few years does not determine their need to leave. Now of course, if your life or your children’s lives are in imminent danger, YOU MUST GO. No ifs, ands or buts. 

In my opinion, many people viewed the clips with the expectation that he should have grown up before he decided to marry. Yes; it is clear that one should be mature and ready for marriage, but let’s go a little deeper. As adults, we do our very best to confront any issues or areas of our lives that need healing and growth, but how does one know how to remedy something they never knew they had a problem with? When you’re married, some seasons force you to deal with different aspects of your life (I.e. childhood) that you never knew would cause you trouble later in your life. You can be well put together and then an argument triggers a childhood trauma. It wasn’t an issue in the beginning, but now it is. Do you leave? Do you leave the person that you vowed to love through sickness and health because it took them longer than a year to deal with an underlying issue that took 12 years to create?

In marriage, you are commanded to be your spouse’s strength and helpmate. There are moments when one is up, and the other is down, when both are down and when both are up. If your foundation is sturdy and rooted in the right things, you’ll both be able to cover each other where needed. Those 8 years of sacrifice for Pastor Gray and his wife could have been him choosing to quit his job to pursue being a pastor full-time, leaving the financial burden on his wife. Let’s assume things turned sour in the mist of this because he felt like less of a man because he wasn’t providing for his family. His attitude was poor, and it was a rollercoaster every day for his wife. Life happens. Bad times happen. Look at what position they are in now! They are financially secure, and from the outside looking in, their marriage is stronger than ever. Should she have left? If they weren’t married, sure! 8 years is a long time to figure things out with someone who isn’t your husband or wife.

What I saw in those clips was a man acknowledge that he wasn’t always the man he is today. That he wasn’t always the husband he is today. That it took him longer than he wanted to get it right, but he eventually did, and his wife stayed by his side while he got it together. When he said she endured more pain with him than birthing their children, I imagine it was because the pain it took for her to birth their children was quicker than it took for him to get his life together! If there is no abuse, that’s what a wife AND a husband is supposed to do! You’re supposed to go through rough seasons in order to grow through those seasons. There is no time frame on trials and tribulations. 

Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot. Is it ok for a husband to leave his wife because of the toll her postpartum depression took on their marriage. Let’s say postpartum depression then took a turn and triggered anxiety issues and more within her, so now she’s not the same as she was when he first married her. It takes her more than a year to feel normal again. Should he leave? No? It’s not okay for him to leave her in a vulnerable state and in a rough patch of their marriage, right?

Those opposing individuals are right. As a girlfriend, it’s not necessary to be someone’s “ride or die chick” for eight years. However, as a wife, it is extremely necessary to be your husband’s lifelong partner and confidant. The one who helps build him up during times of weakness. The same goes for husbands. Marriage requires 100% on both ends. You both have to give 100% of your love and effort. Every day, every month, every year, we grow as individuals. That doesn’t stop when you become married. You continue to learn about your spouse every day for the rest of your life. 

Pastor Gray showed people that marriage isn’t a walk in the park. Sometimes you’re on cloud 9, others you’re ready to call it quits. He also showed gratitude. He vowed to make it up to his wife by serving her the best way he could for the rest of their lives. I challenge you to change your perspective when it comes to marriage. Have high standards but try lowering those expectations. We’re all human and need a little grace.