It's so easy to be self-centered, especially in marriage. I find that my relationship with my husband exposes all my worst flaws sometimes. Being so incredibly close to and intimate with another person, living together, raising kids together, seeing all of each other's ins and outs all works together to bring out our very best as well as our very worst. I'd say one of my ugliest flaws is how my selfishness can show itself when my husband needs me the most.
When I'm going through a hard time, I am always grateful for how sweet, understanding, and comforting my husband is. He's a very giving, naturally selfless person. I, however, have found myself to be very selfish when the time comes that he needs me. Not all the time- there have certainly been times when I've set myself aside and was there for him when he needed me- but in general, I tend to be irritated rather than understanding when Brian is discouraged, down, or struggling with something. It's my first natural reaction, my fleshly response to him needing something from me.
Brian and I have recently been going through a time of uncertainty based on a job promotion that may or may not come through. Although I trust that God's will will come to be because of prayer, Brian feels a great burden to perform well and be perfect at work. He feels the burden of his responsibility for whether or not he gets a better position at work. When the timing we were hoping for didn't come through, he became very discouraged, and I became frustrated, not with him but with the situation. Seeing my disappointment in the situation, Brian took the blame for it and sank to a low place of discouragement. Through prayer, God showed me a lot about my husband and what it is he needed in this hard time.
When life happens and it doesn't go as planned, a man can become very discouraged very easily. Men tend to define themselves by what they do for work, and how their job is going, so when something in life, especially in that area of his world, isn't going well- money problems, not getting a promotion at work, feeling inferior in the workplace, feeling unappreciated at home or elsewhere, etc.- it affects him on a deep, personal level.
It affects him at his core.
How a wife handles herself in her marriage when her husband is struggling with deep discouragement can make all the difference in the world. We have so much power over our husbands!
We have the power to build them up to towering and confident or to tear them into dust, just with our words, body language, and response to situations. That is an incredibly powerful fact.
So how do you use this power for good while balancing your flesh? What do you do when your husband is discouraged? What do you do with your own feelings of frustration when the man you're married to clearly needs affirmation?
Be on his team. Encourage unity in your marriage by taking on your husband's worries as your own. As hard as it may be, don't just keep to your own stuff and leave him to deal with the problem on his own. Don't just tell him you'll pray for him then exit the situation. Get down in the mud with him, be by his side, pray with him, pray over him, lay hands on him, cry with him. Show him you're a team and he isn't alone. Be all there with him.
A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
Pray like the warrior God created you to be. When you married, God joined you and your man together as one flesh, and when that happened, it gave you this incredible power that far too many women don't even realize they have! It's the power to pray for your husband and intercede for him, which means to intervene on behalf of another. This means that when your husband is caught in the muck of life and feeling depressed, you can actually step in for him and go before the throne of grace, asking things for him when he doesn't! Use this power, ladies! Pray peace, guidance, a sound mind, a good reputation, and prosperity over your husband. If you don't know what to say when you pray, invite the Holy Spirit into your quiet time and ask Him to help you find the words. He will.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Affirm him. Your husband needs constant reassurance that you're not blaming him, angry with him, or disappointed in him. If you are, you need to go to the Lord and ask for help in overcoming those feelings and for the strength to speak to your husband in love. He needs to know you still respect him. Tell him you're proud of him, give examples of why, and don't stop speaking words of affirmation. In this hard time, the moment you do is the moment he stops believing he can do anything right. Every step he takes is guided by your words, and you decide if those steps are backward or forward.
Touch him. I always get harsh feedback whenever I talk about giving your physical self to your husband. Someone almost always leaves a comment about how this isn't 1951 and we aren't sex slaves. All of that is completely ridiculous and irrelevant and not at all what I am saying. The straight fact is that men are physical and we are emotional. Marriage is a give-and-take relationship. We take emotion from our husbands because we need that. Why should we not also be giving of ourselves physically when they need that?
Your man desperately needs to be touched by you because it affirms him. It's how he feels loved. Would you feel very confident if you were going through a hard time and feeling discouraged and your husband just stopped saying that he loved you? Of course not. That is how a man feels when you withhold sex or don't want to touch him.
Reach out your hand and take his, rub his leg while he vents to you, stroke his back, touch his face, kiss him, hug him, tell him you want him to hold you when you're sitting together, initiate sex. Love on him because he needs it! Women so often don't have to say anything... by touching your husband you are communicating a load of love and respect and changing his whole world for the better.
Listen to him. Sometimes Brian needs to talk about something. Sometimes I honestly don't care and don't feel like taking the time to pause and really listen, but he can tell when I'm not paying attention. I should be giving him my time and attention because he's my husband and he needs to feel respected, whether or not I'm interested in what he wants to discuss. By listening to him without judging or commenting with my opinion, I'm giving him an outlet. Sometimes your husband just wants you to be there.
Don't point out his flaws. It's so easy to look at our husbands with judgement and see what it is they did wrong or what they should've done differently. It's also easy to tell them exactly that, but it really damages their egos when we do. Anyone can look at someone else's actions and see flaws. Remember that your husband is a human being in need of grace, just like you. It's hard for him to tell you when something isn't going well, especially at work, so don't make it worse by drawing a big red circle around his mistakes. Be gracious, affirm him, encourage him, pray with him, touch him, and he will go out there and slay dragons for you.
I know it's hard to be a wife and a mother and have people needing you all day long and then be needed by your husband at the end of a long day. Maybe you feel like you just can't handle it. I know I can't. But God's desire for my marriage is that it thrive and be holy, so He grants me the grace and strength I need to be a godly wife despite my failing flesh. If you just ask and be willing, He'll do the same for you and that will bless your marriage beyond what you can imagine.