Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Helping Our Husbands: Five things a good wife can do to make the difficult times easier

We've all been there; a job loss, financial setbacks, periods of unemployment, struggling through college, addiction, loss, troubled teenagers, and just plain old discouragement. How do we, as loving wives, help our husbands through the bumps and bruises that life dishes out?

Bruce Chadwick, a professor and researcher of sociology said the following during an address at BYU:
"Good marriages are created after you get up from your knees at the altar of the temple. Strong marriages emerge out of helping each other obtain your education, struggling financially, dealing with sickness, and coping with the shock produced by the birth of your first child."
It is truly the struggles we go through as a married couple that bring us closer together and create the oneness in heart and purpose that good marriages need.

So, how can faithful wives help and support their husbands through troubling times? My husband and I have been weathering some particularly difficult storms over the last couple of years, and I'd like to share what I have learned from my experiences.

1) Appreciate Him

"You... wives must realize that as your companion comes home from his day's labor, he comes sometimes with nerves that are taut with the tensions of that day's efforts, hoping to find in you someone to give him the strength and courage to go back inspired and better prepared to meet the problems of the next day. To nag and to scold and to fail to appreciate his problems is to fail in being the companion that he needs." ~Harold B. Lee
We all have bad days, whether we are at a job, or caring for a home and family. Modern women often complain that husbands do not understand all they do in a day. While that may be true, I would postulate that we stay at home mothers may not appreciate the heavy load that our husbands carry as providers and protectors.

The other night, as I was heading to bed late, I was looking around my home, and began to ponder about all the blessings that I have. My thoughts turned to my beloved husband as I realized that almost everything that comes into our house has been provided to me and my children out of the hard-earned paycheck that my husband brings home. That income feeds us, shelters us, clothes us, and takes care of all the temporal needs, as well as wants, that we all have.

My heart now swells with love and gratitude as I watch my husband head out the door each morning: rain or shine, whether he's excited to go or whether he dreads the day. We all know that we can count on him to provide for our family. What a blessing!

2) Comfort Him

"And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant,... thy husband." ~Doctrine and Covenants 25:5
So, what about those times in life when our husbands are having difficulties in providing for our families' needs? In most cases, not being able to provide for a family can be one of the biggest burdens a man can ever carry.

We should never nag, complain, or lose our tempers when our husbands are struggling. Have any of us ever-- EVER-- been motivated by someone who is constantly getting after us? We need to remember that our husbands need comfort and support from us. In fact, it is a divine mission from God for wives to love, support, and comfort their husbands.
We do need to be careful that we do not treat our husbands as we would our children, however. Our husbands are strong, and their divine mission includes protecting US. So we should offer kind, encouraging words, and lots of extra love and time alone as a couple, but not pity or patronizing. In times of trouble, a man needs his wife to be his partner, his confidante, and his lover, but NEVER to act as his mother.

3) Believe in Him

"[A husband] needs to feel that he is protecting you. He needs to feel and know that he is the leader in the family.... When he feels this he is a better man. He is a better husband. He is a better employee, a better employer. He is better adjusted and happier in life. He can do better work. He can be even more prosperous. But for the sake of all that is important, above all, he can be a better father, and a better holder of the priesthood." ~Boyd K. Packer
It is my experience that people generally rise to the level of our expectations for them. This is not to say that we should push our husbands to be something they are not, or that we should try to mold them into something they don't want to be.

This is not to say that our hoped-for expectations for someone will always be met. Each person will make their own choices. However, when we only see the bad in someone, and keep their faults constantly at the forefront of our thoughts, actions, and words, we will drive a wedge in the relationship that cannot be undone unless the fault-finder decides to change.

Ladies, our husbands each have things that drive us crazy now and then. But wives also have weaknesses that husbands try to see past, as well. We should have common courtesy and kindness for our spouses, and look for the good in them! No one wants to have anyone focus on their flaws.

In contrast to seeing the imperfections in our husbands, what if we could view them with an eye to their potential? What if we saw our sweethearts as the sons of God that they truly are? Can we even begin to imagine how wonderful these amazing priesthood holders will be in the next life?

Our husbands need us to see them as our heroes, and to recognize all they do for us! Our love for them and our belief in them will truly help them conquer whatever dragons the world has for them to slay.

4) Pray for Him

“Pray for the love which allows you to see the good in your companion. Pray for the love that makes weaknesses and mistakes seem small. Pray for the love to make our companion’s joy your own. Pray for the love to want to lessen the load and soften the sorrows of your companion.” ~Henry B. Eyring
There will be days that we want to do anything but pray for our husbands! Praying for our husbands can make the marriage relationship sweeter.

My husband is currently going through a difficult time with his job. After our family prayer this morning, I asked the children to pray for their dad today in their personal prayers. So during the prayer over our breakfast, my daughter asked the Lord to help her hero-- her father. My heart was tenderly touched as I heard this little girl's pleas for her daddy.

The more we pray for our husbands, the more our hearts and thoughts are softened toward them. I know that the Lord is pleased when we pray for our husbands. There is a power in prayer that can be felt in a tangible, real way: lives and hearts can be changed!

5) Make the Fight Worthwhile

“Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully.” ~Russell M. Nelson
Sometimes all a person needs during a difficult time is a smile, a hug, and an encouraging word. We can text a love note to our husband, make a special treat, or kidnap him for a special date night. It's the little things like holding hands, or just going the extra mile to make our homes a place of peace and safety that can make heavy burdens that much easier to carry.

Over the years, we come to know more about the things that make our spouses feel better about being in the family circle. If a husband needs some time alone after a long day of work, we should do what we can to insulate the noise and chaos from him, even just for a little while. Maybe there is a tiny something that helps give him encouragement that we can do to go the extra mile: a warm and ready dinner, or laundry that is put away and folded. 

Husbands may not even notice the little extra things that we do for them, but that is not the point! We should not do these things to gratify ourselves. Rather, we should do them out of love for him, with a heart of charity.  

I know in my own marriage that our weekly date nights, and intimate time as a couple have blessed our marriage immeasurably. The deep connections we make physically and emotionally act as a healing balm to a hurting heart, or a strained relationship. 

Love is the Key

In our busy lives, we have to make time for these things, and keep them as a high priority, in order to keep our marriages as strong as they can be. Husbands and wives need each other, in good times and in bad ones. I pray that my husband knows that he has a safe haven he can always rely on in my heart.

Wishing you all the best in your marriage relationships,
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