But expecting understanding from someone without voicing your struggle is a surefire way to initiate hurt feelings for you or both of you.
One night, my husband and I were standing together, examining the items on a store shelf. I noticed a man walking up pretty close to us. I nervously found what I needed, smiled, and moved out of his way. As I am walking away, my husband begins talking to this stranger. After quite a few minutes of endless talking, I realized this conversation was not reaching an endpoint. I practically had to pull my husband away. We joked about it as we walked off that I avoid social interaction at all costs, but my husband seeks out the opportunity to engage with others. His words just flow off the tongue.
I do not share this same gift, and maybe you or your spouse don't either. I don’t know who you are in this scenario, but I can probably guess that, since you are reading this, you are one way while your spouse is another. I enjoy that my husband and I balance each other out, but I do not enjoy it at the moment of anxiety, being faced with the realization that while my husband is flourishing, I feel like I am failing. But how can we balance each other out in a way that feels safe but doesn’t feel limiting?
Voice Your Fears
My husband and I have always been open and honest with each other. But there have been many times that I expect him to know what is going on in my head, even without me telling him. I think we have all been there. But expecting understanding from someone without voicing your struggle is a surefire way to initiate hurt feelings for you or both of you.
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NLT
Be a Place of Safety
In return, if your spouse voices his or her fears, this is your opportunity to be a place of safety for their worries. You may not be able to fix it, but you can be a voice of reason and an encouraging motivator through their fear. They are clinging to you for support in those moments. Do not hang them out to dry or make light of their struggle through break-the-ice jokes.
“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:7-8 NLT
Create a Plan Together
My husband and I always have a plan for when it is time to leave a gathering. I am terrible at goodbyes, so I need to know ahead of time what kind of time frame we are looking at and what our reason for leaving is so I can prepare myself for when our time of departure comes. Similarly, we discuss different conversation topics or examples of what I should say in response to themes I am expecting will come up.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT
Let Your Spouse Lead
And as you guessed it, I prefer my husband to lead me into a gathering and out of a gathering. He has a much better way with words. As a southerner, departing from someone’s house is not as simple as saying goodbye. It is a 30-minute ordeal to get out the door and 30 more minutes in the driveway. Allowing your spouse to lead is not a sign of weakness but a display of your oneness as God designed. Let him or her make the transition smooth for both of you. That plan you created together prior to your social engagement, stick to it, and work together to see it through to completion.
“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
“As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”” Ephesians 5:21, 31 NLT
(I encourage you to read Ephesians 5:21-33.)
Remind Your Spouse How Important Their Role Is
We know that it can be exhausting going through all this “extra work” just to spend time with others. We may easily admit that we feel like a burden at times, but our hope is that you also see how important your role is to us. Your piece in this puzzle is crucial to us. Just as God created Eve to be a helper for Adam, you are my helper. You and your needs are important to me.
“Now the Lord God said, “It is not good (beneficial) for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper [one who balances him—a counterpart who is] suitable and complementary for him.”” Genesis 2:18 AMP
Encourage Your Spouse to Find Safety in Christ
There is nowhere we can go that is out of the presence of God. We are never, ever alone. We may feel alone, like we are drowning in our fears and need for isolation. But we are held in the palm of His hand. We can find safety in His ability to care for us. I know the burden can feel heavy, but we hope that you know just how important you are in reminding us that God has got us.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NLT
Seek to Understand
You understand your ability to engage and work well with others, but maybe you don’t understand how or why your spouse is uncomfortable. You understand your fear of communicating and being in the presence of others, but maybe you don’t understand how your spouse can be so carefree in this moment. Find common ground to understand what the other is feeling. Make a decision to see your spouse’s struggle or confidence in this specific situation. Try to see life through their eyes. Remind yourself that no matter what side you are standing on, you are understood by your Heavenly Father. Trust that He will make a way for you in this moment and every moment after.
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.” Romans 12:4-6 NLT
The most powerful gift that directly connects us with the Father is our prayers. Pray over and with your spouse. God is our help and refuge. He sees us in the midst of our struggles. We can only do so much, but God can do abundantly more and will work all things out for good.
"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 ESV
No matter what highs or lows we experience in marriage, we should always experience them together as one body before Christ. It can be hard to understand something we do not personally experience, but we can seek to understand how we can help our spouse through it. We do not have to experience it to extend hope and understanding, but we can work together in order to succeed.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Laura Spurlin is a Christian, wife to her high school sweetheart, mama to her kiddos, nurse, and writer that has a passion for sharing what the Lord puts on her heart about motherhood, mental health, and all things in the Word of God.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
Video credit: ©RhondaStoppe/SWN