Maybe you’re the people-pleaser-doer wife and you’ve been slaving all day: cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, etc.
But he doesn’t seem to notice.
Or perhaps you’re the awesome-helper-spiritually-gifted wife, and you have been really thriving in God’s presence.
But he’s not right now.
Maybe you’re struggling yourself right now. With depression, job loss, infertility, anxiety.
But he’s not there for you.
Here’s the thing: You probably aren’t doing anything wrong.
Now, of course, we all contribute to messes in our marriage, and sometimes our husbands can check out when we’re having problems.
But you need to know that your husband’s dissatisfaction is not always your fault. It’s not always about your marriage.
Often, he’s not responding to you because he is dealing with something else. For example, my pastor hubby can get very discouraged at work because he’s doesn’t feel like he’s able to get people excited about spiritual things. Or he’s bearing others’ burdens, and the sheer weight of it is occupying his heart and thoughts. Or he’s prepping a sermon, and it is just consuming him for one reason or another.
So how do you know what’s going on, and how you can help? Try this:
1. Find a good time to bring it up.
While the kids are crawling on him, when he’s half asleep, or after you’ve fought about something else is not the right time. Consider a time when you’re both not exhausted (if that’s possible), you’re alone, and you’re not on bad terms.
2. Ask what’s up.
First, tell him you’ve noticed that he seems stressed/tired/thoughtful/whatever, and ask him if there’s something that is bothering him. You don’t have to ask if you are doing something wrong. That puts him in the mode to protect your feelings, and then he feels like he can’t share with you what’s really going on – which probably isn’t about you.
3. Trust his answer.
Once your hubby answers your question in number 2, above, trust that what he tells you is honest and genuine. Men are generally not like women – they’re not going to beat around the bush and make you guess a thousand times until they crack and cry and finally let it all out. Yeah. They don’t really do that. (Not that I do all that – ahem – I’m just sayin’…)
In other words, don’t keep nagging him with questions like, “Are you sure I haven’t done something to upset you?” Again, this puts him in the mode where he needs to coddle you, and the whole point of the conversation was for you to find out what was going on with him. Right?
4. Ask how you can help.
Know that he may not want to talk about the issue. Even though something is troubling him, he may not necessarily want to flesh out every possible conclusion or bad mouth the people involved or discuss the nuances that led him there.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t help him.
Ask if there’s anything you can do to help, but again, trust him if he says “Nothing.” The list below is a great place to start.
- You can pray for him.
- You can offer to make something easier on him at home or to let him have a night with the guys.
- You can just understand that he’s dealing with it in his own way and not nag him about it.
I know – that last one is hard to hear. You feel like you’re being insensitive if you don’t ask him
20 200 questions about it. But once your offer your help, that’s all you can do. The rest is up to him.
And it’s OK to not try to take control and mother him in this. If he’s struggling through it and genuinely doesn’t want a certain “help” from you, then give him that room and that freedom.