Pandemic. It’s not a word I considered much before now. Today it’s a regular part of our vocabulary. It’s a tough time, and your husband might be feeling the brunt of it. Take a good look at him. How’s he doing these days? Is he struggling, or does he act like it’s business as usual? Do his shoulders look heavier? Does a shadow of concern cross his face? Is he a bit more distant?
Maybe your man seems to be having the time of his life. He’s spending his newly found free time and energies on meaningless activities making you wonder why he’s not as concerned about your family as you think he should be. There’s a good chance that even if your man is not a worrier, he is carrying some concerns.
As wives, we are one with our husbands. We are completers and helpers, but I question what I can do to help, especially right now. I can’t fix this pandemic. I can’t fix this economy. I can barely fix dinner some nights. How can I be the helper he needs in a time of crisis?
Here are 11 ways your husband could be silently struggling with quarantine.
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1. He’s lost his ability to provide.
If he’s lost his job or taken an income hit during this crisis, he’s facing more pressure on how to provide for his family. He’s looking ahead 6-12 months, and it’s difficult to find answers on how to secure his family’s future. What looked like a solid plan less than two months ago might all be up in the air now.
2. He’s lost his identity.
For many men, identity is tied to work. He might feel like less of a man or wonder if you think less of him. This weight is more than a financial burden and cuts to the core of who he is, how he views himself, and his role in your marriage and family.
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3. His future is uncertain.
One month of instability in the market has thrown a universal wrench in retirement plans. Your husband might be looking at an empty investment portfolio that just earlier this year he was getting ready to rely on full-time. All his hard work, discipline, and savings may appear gone for now, or at best, delayed. He could be uncertain about losing opportunities and having to find new ones.
4. His past work seems meaningless.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners have spent their lives building something only to wonder now if they will have anything to show for it. Is he going to see 20 years of his life’s work go to waste? His work has been compromised, and he doesn’t know how long this will last.
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What You Can Do
You can provide relief by getting on board with making the budget work. One or both of you may need to hunt for some temporary part-time income. It’s time to tighten that budget belt—again. The priority is to do whatever it takes to make it work, together. Find valuable resources for money management and even Money Dates online at Crown Financial Ministries and Dave Ramsey. By using this challenge as an opportunity to grow your Financial IQ, you can come out of this stronger and closer than you went into it.
Give your husband the reassurance that you respect his character and that your love is not dependent on his employment status or job title. He knows he’s not perfect, as none of us are. We can extend to him the same grace we hope to receive from him and the unconditional love we see in God’s word (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Resist fear. When a door closes, change can be scary, but it can also be the seed of an equal or greater opportunity. If he sees a door closing, look together for those open doors. Maybe God is opening the door to a new career. Maybe this is what he has been waiting for. Affirm him in changing times.
5. He’s concerned about the health of a loved one.
The virus, of course, is a major concern. What if someone gets sick? How does he protect and love someone well, like a parent or family member who is high risk? Is staying 6 feet apart today the way to show love? Does he need to make a major decision regarding a loved one in a long-term care facility? What if you’ve lost someone during this time? To avoid crowds, families have to postpone memorial services and funerals and have no outlet for grief or closure. Under normal circumstances, these responsibilities can feel overwhelming. Even more so now when the danger is real and out of his control.
6. He’s struggling with mental health.
Anxiety, fear, and flat-out boredom have taken their toll during the lockdown. Mental health is a rising challenge. He’s trying to handle the stress but has lost access to his healthy ways of dealing with it before the crisis. Gyms are closed. There is no camaraderie at the church’s small group or men’s ministry. Whether physical, mental, or spiritual, outlets are limited. Stress-eating can take the place of stress-beating.
What You Have to Offer
The Bible is full of assurances that can bring us peace and comfort in scary times. Husbands and wives, as partners, need one another to build each other up when the other is down. One of the most powerful weapons we have against discouragement is prayer. Stormie Omartian’s The Power of a Praying Wife is a resource packed with inspiration on how to build your husband up through prayer.
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Family and Relationships
7. He doesn’t know how to comfort his children.
We are watching our children suffer the loss of things that are important to them. Proms, graduations, senior trips, vacations, camps, and other major life events are gone in an instant. He may feel unequipped to know how to talk with them about their loss and wondering how to lead them well.
8. He’s not sure how to lead you well, and he doesn’t know if you’ll support him.
He feels helpless when he wants to reassure you with the right answers, but there are none. He is uncertain too but feels pressure to remain calm. Our valid questions and concerns could go overboard peppering him with questions and demanding solutions, insisting he give answers that just aren’t there yet. We don’t want to slide into nagging, dripping water territory (Proverbs 27:15).
9. It’s hard to stay connected with other guys.
You are at home with the children 24/7. Just as you need to find time to connect with other sisters, he needs to connect with other men. It’s a challenge to make that happen over the internet when guys’ night is no longer.
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How You Can Help
Take the pressure off. Lovingly build him up while showing trust in him and the Lord as you navigate uncertainty together. The big picture is that life is full of challenges, and the current crisis is just one of them, however crazy and unusual it might be. Preparing our children with a worldview that points them toward the solidarity and certainty of God’s word in uncertain times is an ongoing conversation, and the perfect time to start it is now. They need to know that although the world will pass away, the Word of the Lord endures forever (Isaiah 40:6-8).
Make space for him to enjoy relationships with just the guys. We know how much it can fill us up just to laugh and have downtime with other ladies, so it is important we give him the same grace. Give him the opportunity and encouragement to find levity when he can and relationships with guys who build one another up and point each other in the right direction when necessary (Hebrews 10:24-25).
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10. Sexual intimacy is struggling.
The kids are around 24/7, and they’re demanding your time and energy. There’s no date night because there’s nowhere to go. Finding time and energy for each other isn’t easy on the best of days, much less these days of uncertainty and upheaval.
It’s time to get creative. Make a decision that intimacy will be a priority in your marriage, and commit to acting on it. It’s going to take effort to get those little ones wrangled and into bed early, but it will be worth it. Have a picnic on the living room floor. Get curbside pickup and have a parking lot date. Grab some camp chairs, and head to the park by the lake. The challenges to be creative now will become fond memories when we get through this crisis.
11. He's Struggling with Sin
According to Noble Warriors, a ministry geared towards equipping men to walk with Christ and lead well, the number one temptation men face today is pornography, and with the added screen time at home and more unscripted time available, it can be even greater.
It is devastating for a wife to imagine her husband struggling in this way, and there is no easy answer. This issue emphasizes the cruciality of men creating authentic relationships with other godly men. As difficult as it is, we need to create the space for our husbands to talk, recognize sin, and seek accountability and connection with other men.
Mike Young, Executive Director of Noble Warriors, says the number two struggle men face is anger. Often anger is just the outward manifestation of inward stress or fear, and according to Young, it’s often considered the only “masculine” way to deal with feelings. When Good Men Get Angry talks about the core of anger and biblical strategies to handle it. Try to understand the root of the issue, and use an extra measure of grace with each other. We all need it during this crisis.
It’s ok to recognize the wonkiness of life right now. Call it what it is—bizarre. There’s no one right way for your husband to deal with pressures and concerns; everyone handles emotions differently. As wives, we don’t always hear the inside concerns our man is carrying, but he may still be silently struggling. Assure him that your trust is in the Lord. Even with the unknowns, the knowns don’t change. You are one family unit, and you are in this together (Genesis 2:24). You can learn to understand and support one another in any crisis, even right now. Our hope is in the Supplier, not the supply. He knows our needs better than we do, and He will supply your needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).
Hollie Gilman blogs about Faith and Family at HollieGilman.com. She has spent the last 21 years momming, homeschooling her 3 almost-grown-and-flown children, and working with her husband of 24 years. Now she enjoys writing and her new life in the country (being a pretend farmer) just outside her hometown of Richmond, VA.
Originally published Wednesday, 29 April 2020.