Writer by day, transcriber by night, Renee is a boy mom, PPD survivor, recovering fear-a-holic, and former educator. She lives on Christ and caffeine as she attempts to finally transcend mediocrity and live the life Jesus died for her to have. When not tied to her desktop and swimming in coffee, the native Floridian can be found wherever the water is salty, spending time with her son and husband of 15 years.
She’s a contributor to Disney's Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post. You can learn more about Renee’s journey and her passion for helping women find their worth in the Word, not the world, at [email protected] Scribe.
It’s really hard to see someone you love struggling and unhappy. As mothers, we see this more than we’d like with our kiddos whether it’s in the form of failed tests, broken hearts, peer pressure, or the missed pop-fly to left field. But what about when it’s your husband who is struggling?
My husband has a super stressful job that offers zero work-life balance. It wasn’t always this way. As corporate America moves toward the trend to run leaner and meaner, forcing the select few to do the work of many, the attempt to balance professional and personal responsibilities can take its toll. It certainly has in our family.
He’s a proud guy and doesn’t make a habit of bellyaching. He doesn’t have to as it’s quite evident in that he’s a mere shell of himself, emaciated by that which has sucked him dry and spit him out as mere leftovers for his loving family.
The obvious answer for some might be to simply quit and get another job. But that’s just not doable for many families, including ours. We’re simply not in a position to walk away from 15 years of investment, mainly because of the financial repercussions.
While we recognized that we are in fact blessed that he has a job, I still wish there was something I could do to fix things.
The only way I can help is by concentrating on the things I do have control over. So while we continue waiting and remaining faithful in the belief that God will work a miracle, here are: 5 Ways I Help My Stressed-Out Husband Cope
We start our day with prayer here in our house, individually before setting one foot on the hard floor and then together as a family before we part. But I continue praying during the day for God to lift my husband’s spirits and for Him to send special people in my husband’s path to help make things easier for him and to encourage him. I pray the Armor of God to be on my husband, that he would be able to stand firm against the enemy’s tailor-made attacks, and that the Holy Spirit would encourage him and help him persevere.
There has been a day or two when the stress of the job has been so enormous that my husband has texted me to ask that I pray for him at that very moment. I am thankful that, although my husband has a lot of pride, he recognizes the need for God’s guidance and intervention in his daily life.
After this happened a couple of times, I started texting him at least once a day to tell him that I loved him and that I was praying for him.
I actually don’t think it’s a good idea to call and text your husband while he’s working unless it’s a quick “I love you” or to offer brief encouragement. This leads me to the next item on my list.
My husband and I have been married for 15 years as of this month. I’ve never forgotten the only piece of marital advice my father ever gave me: Don’t call your husband and bother him with anything that can wait until he gets home. Back then, my dad’s rationale for telling me this was because he’d seen fellow coworkers become upset by a phone call with their spouse or girlfriend and within hours become victim to an on-the-job accident. They simply weren’t able to focus on their jobs and the safety of their jobs because they’d become preoccupied with what was said on the earlier call. It makes total sense, doesn’t it?
Likewise, in the case of my husband, he doesn’t need one more thing to worry about or be stressed about while trying to handle his typical day at the office–another distraction, frankly. Testing my husband about trivial things from broken dishwashers to the pest control man running 30 minutes late doesn’t make sense. Can he really help me with that kind of stuff while he’s at work?
The first thing I do when my husband texts me to say he’s on the way home from work is to open our front gate. The man just worked at least 13 hours and drove an hour to get home. The last thing he should have to do is to get out and open his own gate. It’s just courtesy, and it allows my son to see me doing special little things like that for his dad, as an example of my love and thankfulness.
Something my husband hates even more than raisins is a locked door. (Is this a man thing? Seems all the guys in my family have issues with locked doors!) My son or I will go outside to greet him, help him in with his computer and lunchbox and the 20 other things he has to lug back and forth. If we can’t make it out to greet him, when he pulls in the driveway, I unlock the front door for him. It’s one less obstacle he has to traverse.
Of course, there is the welcome home hug and kiss, but there’s also a special place for him to put his work things. It helps to keep everything together so that the next morning runs smoothly and he’s not searching the house for everything he needs for work.
Basically, I’m trying to do my very best to welcome him home, help him shake off the day, and end it on a good note.
THE SOUTHERN CHARM
The only piece of marital advice that my mom has ever given me was to never talk to your husband about anything before he’s eaten supper. My husband’s been entertaining complaints and problem-solving all day long. The last thing he wants or deserves to do is to come home and have more of it. So I consciously make an effort to not hit him with anything right off. Some days this is harder than others, especially if I’ve had to spend the last hour in homework mode, helping the little guy subtract fractions!
Before anything of real substance is presented to him, I insist on the four S’s: Shower, Slippers, Supper and, of course, Sweet Tea. (Every good southerner knows that hard things, like accepting that the dishwasher’s dead for the fourth time this month and will, yet again, need to be taken apart and repaired, just go down a little bit easier with a sweet tea chaser.)
Unless my husband initiates a conversation about work, I sit quietly. There really is no sense in asking how his day was because, frankly, I already know. It’s just a matter of how bad it was.
If in fact, he does bring something up about his day at work, I’m careful to not feed his anxiety and stress by offering my two cents. Honestly, as weird as it sounds, just as I can get all “mama bear” when it comes to my tween, I can become the same way when I hear someone has mistreated my husband or made his ridiculously hard day even harder. I have to dig deep, pray hard, and sit quiet, practicing self-control or risk escalating the situation. My getting upset only adds fuel to the fire.
Have you ever seen an upsetting movie just before bedtime and not been able to sleep for thinking about it? I’ve found it to be equally true when you talk about something upsetting before bed. On the nights when the two of us would rehash the day’s goings on, my husband wouldn’t sleep at all. And we all know that there’s no way the next day can get any better if you’ve not slept the night before.
So mum’s the word.
However, it’s important that he opens up to me at some point to relieve some of the stress. It’s just imperative to sit tight and pick those opportunities at the right times.
My husband appreciates that I take care of most things here on the home front. He looks forward to coming home and being able to have a relaxing evening, even if it is just two hours, maybe, until he falls asleep in his recliner. Some days it’s knowing he’s coming home to us, to a loving safe haven that gets him through. And those little things I do demonstrate my love and gratefulness to him, for all he does to provide for us.
For whatever reason, this is where God would have us right now.
I have to keep faith that He’s working a little miracle for our family, albeit behind the scenes.
In the meantime, I’ll continue praying for my husband and encouraging him, while doing all I can to make life a little easier to swallow–one sweet tea at a time.
Over it all. Under His Grace.
Wishing this week was over and done? ‘Cause you’re feeling over and done with. About to fall over. Fried from it all? Well done but not done well? Overdone, maybe?
Wonder if your week is going a little like mine. I’ve had a rough few days full of overbearing people, overdue deadlines, and me cracking under it all. My emotions were all over the board. As I lay in bed last night, I went over those days—this week, this very, very overburdened week—went over it with a fine-toothed comb. Went over it and over it, wishing I could fix it. Went over and over it, kicking myself for not doing what I should’ve and for doing what I shouldn’t have. My heart ached for a do-over. I needed a do-over. I owed everyone around me a do-over, even myself. And God. To right all my wrongs. To apologize to those I was rude to. To those who didn’t see Christ in me. To finally not lose sleep over it all.
Your week got you fed up, beat down, and feeling low because it’s getting the best of you, too? Rest assured that you’re not done for. You’re not done in. You’re not in over your head. Stand tall, sweet one. Stand tall and look alive. You’re not overcome; you’re an overcomer. An overcomer who will not fall over. But will kneel over. Will not roll over. But will pray over—it all. And He who is over it all will wipe the slate clean.
Truth is that it’s going to be okay. No, maybe we didn’t do our best. Maybe we didn’t do our utmost. Maybe we didn’t do our duty. Maybe we didn’t do a world of good. Maybe we just flat. out. chose. to forget about the do’s and don’ts. We’ve all been there, done that. And we’ll be there and do that again. Because we are humans. Humans. Flawed, messed-up, broken-but-loved-by-Him humans who need second chances.
THANKFULLY, WE ARE LOVED BY THE GIVER OF SECOND CHANCES.
And third chances. And fourth chances…
His grace is all over it. His grace is over all of it. All. Of. It. Overflowing, spilling out, splashing onto you, all over you. Over and over and over again. Ask for it. Receive it. His grace He freely gives. Because He’s head-over-heels in love with you. Yes, even you. Even when you totally blow it. His grace has your name written all over it.
Let go of yesterday. Let go of today. You can be done with it now. Nighttime will be over soon enough and tomorrow will come again. Press on, dear one. Press on, knowing that you were never meant to be perfect. Knowing He knows your heart. Knows you love Him. Knows you want to please Him. Knows you’re repentant. And He gives you another shot. You can start over again. He is the God of do-overs. And overs. And overs. And overs…
And that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothin’ but the truth. It’s all said and done. Just the way it is, thank God. But His work in us is never over and done.
He is never done with us.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13, 14
YOUR STORY. HIS GLORY.
The walk with God is truly a journey. It’s a daily fleshing out of what He’s put within us. It is a lifelong transformation.
When we start our transformation, I believe He begins to expect more from us. His boldness and courage within us births a new willingness to step outside of our comfort zone and help others. Sometimes this means sharing a story we’d rather not—maybe something painful and that may even bring judgment.
Sometimes He asks that we blaze trails for others as a testament to His faithfulness and power.
That’s where I’m coming from today, friend.
THERE’S SOMETHING HE’S PUT ON MY HEART TO SHARE WITH YOU, AND I DON’T WANT TO, FRANKLY.
I’m trusting in Him that what I share today will comfort a soul, change a heart, release bondage, heal a broken spirit, tear down walls, build up courage, and give hope.
The enemy has put it in my head that if you read this that you’ll think less of me. Maybe you’ll think of me as lacking faith in Him, the same faith in Him that I write about. The deceiver has been telling me that no one cares about my struggle and that maybe God hasn’t truly delivered me from my illness—so don’t bother sharing.
But he’s really good at putting thoughts in my head that cause me confusion and cause me to doubt what God would have me do. He’s won so many times before.
But. Not. Today.
Today, I’m gonna black both of your eyes, old Smutty Face.
Today, no matter how fearful I am and how much the enemy wants me to continue on in silence so that I don’t proclaim God’s goodness and my faith in The Lord, I’ll not be quieted.
Today, the enemy will not keep me from sharing a bit of my story and giving Him all the glory.
Someone needs to know that I struggle too.
Many days, my feelings dictate to me the words I’ll say, the places I’ll go, the sentences I’ll write, the love I’ll share, the prayers I’ll pray, and the songs I’ll sing—and if I’ll even go outside of the house.
There are days when I have to dig deep, pray hard, and cry some too.
As much as I know that I’m not to live by my feelings of fear and depression and anxiety and worry…some days are not easy.
But, they are possible to endure with Christ.
The truth is, I’ve struggled with mental illness my whole life to one degree or another. It stemmed, I believe, from birth and was compounded by traumatic life events and the strong presence of mental illness on both sides of my family.
A DECADE AGO, MY LIFE SHATTERED…
My lifelong illness joined forces with postpartum depression, resulting in an all-consuming abyss from which I barely escaped.
Sometimes He chooses to perform a miracle and deliver us immediately from our bondage and illness.
Sometimes the storm we’re in could be over in days or weeks.
Sometimes He keeps us in the storm for much longer, so that we can learn to trust Him more and build our relationship with Him.
It’s human nature to want everything fast and with the least amount of effort, to get our miracle healing overnight.
If only He worked on our time schedule. But then he’d not be God, would he?
For His plans are so much higher, His thought so far above ours.
Waiting out the storm is no easy task, especially when it’s a storm that is in the mind.
God has put it on my heart for someone today (and I’m trusting that “someone” is reading these words) to know that seeking help for your anxiety and depression doesn’t mean you lack faith in God. It doesn’t mean you don’t trust Him enough.
Personally, I believe we have to work in accordance with God. We must be active participants with Him in our healing of mental illness. For me, that participation was in the form of constant prayer and trusting in God. But it also meant being broken to the point that I had no choice but to seek help in the form of counseling and medication.
I’m thankful that He hand-selected precious people to place on my path–to come alongside me, to walk with me.
Let’s seek His wisdom, and allow Him to not only comfort us but guide us. That guidance is wisdom for what part we need to play in our healing for those times that we’re not miraculously healed or delivered.
So, let’s partner with Him.
And sometimes that partnering means getting some professional help and even prescription medicine.And I don’t believe that makes anyone any less of a Christian! It just means we’re human.
I truly believe that God strategically places people in our pathway to help in our healing. He allows others to minister to us and to partner with us and God. He can still get His glory, and you can still get your healing. And it doesn’t mean you don’t have enough faith.
Some of us won’t have an immediate deliverance from this hold the enemy has on us. For those of us whose healing from mental illness hasn’t come quickly, He is with us and is yearning to reveal himself to us on a much deeper level. To do that often means a longer period of suffering.
BUT THANK GOD YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE SUFFERING ALONE! HE IS WITH US.
For those who are still experiencing the war within your mind and heart against mental illness, partner with God and allow Him to walk with you. Trust Him to guide you, and ask Him to strategically place people in your path who can help you.
Read His word. Trust His promises. Sing His praises. Pray for His will to be done.
He is a God of restoration and healing.
I’m trusting God that my obedience to step out of my comfort zone has given someone else courage to not only continue trusting in Him, praying, and studying His word but to also seek wisdom to make the right choices in the storm. For He has given us a spirit of power, love, and sound judgment. (2 Tim 1:7)
I pray that you’ll reach out to someone and tell your story as inspiration to those suffering from mental illness (or any trial or storm). Step out in faith and leave your fear behind. Blaze the trail, walk with them, and He will bless and use YOU to help others.
Getting professional help doesn’t equate to being less of a Christian, and it doesn’t mean you’re placing your faith in men—it means you’re partnering with God in your healing and using that wisdom and guidance that The Holy Spirit has birthed within you to make good, healthy decisions.
By sharing our brokenness, we strengthen our relationships with others and with our Father. Is there someone you can grasp hands with and come alongside to help them on their journey?
If you’ve struggled, consider sharing your story to help others. If you know someone who is struggling with mental illness, reach out to them today and partner with them and God in their healing.