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Thursday, August 26, 2010
I thought it might be useful, as a follow up to my last post, to write a letter to the pretend wife of the pretend husband who is going through a tough time and feels unable to be the kind of leader he desires to be. If you missed part one of this discussion, "Letter to a Weary Husband," you might want to go back and read it now.

If you are the wife of a husband who honestly agrees to his role as leader of your home, but is going through a season that seems to have him distracted from his duties and unable to be the strong leader, how can you best help him?

Dear Wife of Weary,

Thanks for your email asking how to best help your struggling husband. First of all, be thankful that he is at least agrees with the biblical concept of him being the spiritual, physical and relational covering for you and your kids. From my experience, that is more than half the battle. It’s much easier to help him do something he wants to and knows he should do than it is to convince him that he should do it in the first place.

Since I don’t know the details of what he is struggling against or the particulars of his circumstances, I can’t address those specifically. But what I can do is tell you the kinds of things most men need in a similar situation. These are all things my own wife has done for me that have helped me through hard times. Of course, every man is different, so truthfully, he is the best one to tell you what he needs. But in case he is unwilling or unable to do so, consider these general pointers.
  • Believe in him - He needs to hear that you believe in him and that no matter what he is up against you have faith in him to conquer it.
  • Encourage him - He wants to know that you are on his side, that you are there for him, and that you want to help him. Tell him so, and ask him what you can do for him.
  • Watch your approach - Because he probably already is feeling accused by the circumstances, understand that he is probably pretty vulnerable to mis-interpreting what you say as further accusation, even though I know that isn’t your intent. Try not to sound like you are trying to “fix” him or tell him what he needs to do, but let him know you simply want to stand with him. Especially now, he needs to feel your respect.
  • Respond calmly - I know this one is hard, but to the extent possible try not to respond to his emotions or try to talk him out of them. I’m not saying let him be mean or abusive toward you, but just try to add stability to the situation by remaining calm and unemotional yourself. You do have the power to help diffuse his negative emotions.
  • Get Physical – This is another really hard one, especially if he is withdrawn or angry, but try to reach out to him with physical intimacy. Sit close to him. Hold hands. Snuggle up to him in bed. Kiss him. Make love to him. I know I’m asking a lot, but if you withhold physical intimacy until he “get’s better” he will take it as rejection and judgment.
  • Pray - Pray for him and let him know that you are doing so. Offer to pray with him. This is a time when he might not take the initiative to lead you in prayer.
Maybe you think it isn’t fair of me to ask all this of you when he clearly isn’t holding up his end of the bargain in terms of your marriage roles. But marriage really isn’t about fair, it’s about doing for the other when he/she is unable to do for his/her self. It’s about grace and love in the face of difficulty. 

He needs you even more when he is struggling than when he’s got it all together, and if he knows you have come along beside him in this, it will propel him forward, and in turn propel your marriage forward.

I’ll be praying for the hand of God to be on you, your husband and your marriage.


If you were the wife of a struggling husband, how would you respond to my suggestions? If you are a struggling husband, is there anything you’d add to the list above? Please chime in with your thoughts.


Losing Hope said...

I agree with the advise to the wife of a weary husband except one point.
For me physical part is very nice but the part were you suggest making love to him.
When I am weary and hurting I am in no way up to making love with my wife, but I do welcome the touching, caressing, snuggling things. They are very comforting.
Only thing is, is I would bet there are a many of wives like mine that will begin the physical part and then withdraw offended because he did not respond to her touch believing he does not love her.
This becomes even more painful to me because it says to me I am not worth the extra time for her to show the affection.
I do not always have what it takes to respond to her touches, but wish she would not stop.
She has asked me if I wanted her to stop when I do not respond and I tell her no, but seems to make no difference.
What is a weary husband to do?

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