How do you help when your husband is discouraged?
It’s easy to worry when your husband is feeling down.
I know because I struggled with worry when my husband lost his job four months after our wedding. I wasn’t working either, having left formal employment three months to the wedding.
So for months as a newlywed, my husband hustled to put food on the table and pay the bills and love his new bride.
Suffice it to say; he was discouraged.
Our relationship would feel the strain. But for me, part of the strain was in the form of trying to fix him. I wanted to soothe his worries, do something about the hard situations, help his personality, fix his life.
When I couldn’t (because men generally resist fixing), I worried sick. My spiraling down didn’t help his moments of discouragement.
It takes a long time to begin to learn how to be okay when your husband’s world is not. But over the years, I have learned it’s possible. But only because you learn to take your troubled heart to Jesus.
And so it took many years, and more seasons of discouragement to map the path and understand how to encourage my husband (and how not to).
If your husband is discouraged today, here are tips to help you work through a discouraging season
1. Know that it’s natural to feel worried when your husband is discouraged
Like I said in this post our worlds are intertwined; when a husband feels down, it’s likely the wife will struggle to feel chirpy and joyful. We need to accept that being one-flesh means feeling each other’s pains.
But so often as wives we are hard on ourselves. We rebuke ourselves for lacking faith when we feel down. Yet the truth is that you love your husband and when his world is rocking, yours rocks a little too.
That’s normal. You don’t have to be defined by the rocking but you do need to understand what is going on so you don’t flip out and add more worry and anxiety.
2. Take your worry to God
It’s hard to heal what you don’t accept. I learned it the hard way during my seasons of transition.
When you hurt, it doesn’t mean you are less of a Christian or your faith is weak. In a way, hurt and grief are (one of) God’s chosen methods to help us work through some hard realities of living on earth.
Handled well, they are actually a gift. If you’ve tried bottling up grief you might know what I mean.
But once you accept the reality of your situation the next step is to take it to the Lord; you don’t accept it so you can die in it, you accept it so can take it to the Lord in prayer.
The book of Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us a three-strand cord is not easily broken. You are not alone; what you can’t overcome, God will overcome, indeed has overcome, for you.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:4-5
3. Pray for your husband
Sometimes we want a miracle pill to sweep away our husband’s pain or our pain but such a pill doesn’t exist. What we have is a relationship with God.
The only way to avoid stressing out about your husband’s discouragement is to pray for him and for the issues and challenges that weigh him down.
And so you must pray because that’s the only way not to worry or try to fix him. Sometimes you won’ know what to pray for, but don’t let that stop you from praying!
You can talk to God about the fact that you don’t know what to pray for and ask Him to help you pray right. If you are a spirit-filled believer with the evidence of speaking in tongues (Acts 2:1-4) you can pray in tongues. You can declare scripture. You can sing your favorite worship and praise music.
It doesn’t matter what you think or feel; don’t let a lack of vocabulary or knowledge or insight in your husband’s discouragement keep you from talking to God about it.
It’s as you abide in your Creator that your heart becomes still (John 15:5) such that even when you don’t have answers for your husband, you can still have a conversation without mothering him or falling out of faith in him or God.Sometimes we want a miracle pill to sweep away our husband's pain or our pain but such a pill doesn't exist. What we have is a relationship with God.
4. Encourage him. Without mothering
Most guys don’t want to be pitied; they absolutely dislike looking weak. Sometimes this determination can come off as stand-off-ish to a wife who’s trying to help.
Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s important, to my husband, that I still believe in him, no matter what is going on. Deep down, men want their wives to believe that they are strong enough and smart enough to figure out the hard stuff.
Yes, even even when they are downright discouraged and struggling to open up, they need someone to believe in them. It makes a huge difference when a wife displays a strong belief in her husband.
For a wife, that means being discerning in your words and timing; knowing what to say and when to back off. It means staying positive and affirming who he is at his core (even when you have to speak by faith.)
Men will respond to this “call to greatness” – where a wife shows her confidence in him even when he’s not displaying that confidence in himself.
I am not saying go overboard with empty words, trying to pump him up. Not at all. You know your guy and you have the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you.
But never forget that a husband will more likely to fight to overcome obstacles, including discouragement, just to gain that win for a believing wife.
In my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years, I talk about how to connect at the husband level. Not saying we should treat a husband like a delicate flower. He’s not a delicate flower. I mean that in the sense of speaking in a language he understands.
It’s what we long for as wives too, that our men will make the effort to love and communicate in our language. In Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years, we talk about how to create these bridges, in good times or bad.
You can help change the dynamics in your relationship by learning how to encourage within love and boundaries. Click here to check out the book and get on the road to better communication
5. Nurture your relationship with God
Like we said, it’s normal to feel your husband’s worry; it’s how one-flesh works. However, feeling the tug of worry and tumbling headlong into worry are two different things.
As a wife, you have to be careful not to get sucked into your guy’s discouragement. It does your marriage no good, to have both of you in a pit of discouragement.
And God asks us to give him all worries because He cares for us. 1 Peter 5:6,7.
Absolutely, empathize with your husband. Discuss and wrestle through questions and ideas. Figure out ways to help. Encourage him and pray for him. Fast for the situations (See Fasting For Your Marriage: The How Tos and Benefits)
But remember you are still responsible for your own growth, faith and development in God. Your husband’s struggle is not an excuse to fall off your relationship with God.
6. Encourage outside connection
Men are not like women; we girls like to talk out our troubles. We get relief and gather encouragement just from talking with someone.
But most men prefer to ruminate and think and hide. (See Communication in Marriage: A Husband’s Perspective) Nonetheless, the Bible says we are called to community and people. Psalm 68:6
There’s so much healing and support to be found in a healthy community. Perhaps you think your husband needs to see a therapist, but maybe what he needs is to hang out with his friends!
Are you part of a church? Does your husband have good friends? Are in you in a life group? Encourage these connections.
Make plans for double-dates. Encourage him to hang out with his group of dudes (or dude.) A few minutes of fellowship can change his frame of mind. Fellowship might not change everything but it turns something within us.
Along these same lines, get out of your usual routines; do fun things, serve others, stay active instead of resting in front of the TV.
Change up your habits and environment; the more active and outward-focused you are, the better your outlooks will be.
7. Understand he might be “manning up”
Sometimes a husband won’t admit to feeling discouraged. A wife will be thinking it’s all fine and dandy until little things suddenly tick him off. Or he starts exhibiting physical symptoms due to suppressed stress.
Sometimes it’s not that your husband doesn’t want to talk about his discouragement or admit to it. Sometimes he doesn’t know what he’s feeling and how to express himself.
If you have faced discouragement yourself, you know hard it is to explain your feelings and thoughts to someone else.
Yet, with all the walls and curtains, God knows what your husband is going through. He can and will move in his life and fix the larger issues.
Don’t be mad and upset at your mate because he’s not talking enough or dealing with issues fast enough. Don’t complicate things by demanding he does things your way.
Give a lot of grace, be a little more understanding and willing to go the extra mile.
8. Get help for severe discouragement
If you suspect your husband is going through something more significant – if you think he’s clinically depressed – get professional help.
If he’s spiraling into harmful behavior like drinking, overspending, self-harm, long emotional dark holes or rages, please get help. Encourage him to see get professional help.
If he won’t get help, seek help from trusted sources like a mentor, good friends, a pastor or the family.
9. Don’t forget self-care
Regularly talk to someone about how you are feeling, even if you can’t get into details about you husband’s situation. It helps to have that listening ear. It lightens your load and helps you be there for your husband.
There are no easy answers for when your husband is discouraged
Anxiety over your husbands discouragement might not lessen in a day. But as as you take steps towards God everyday, over the days and weeks you will learn to hold to God tighter than you hang on to your man.
You’ll learn to listen to husband’s raw heart without feeling sick in the stomach. You’ll learn to keep a poker face as he shares complex issues you have no answers for (because a lot of guys aren’t looking for pity or mothering when they open their mind.)
I pray these thoughts are helpful to you today. But I know there are more ways a wife can stand with her husband when he’s feeling discouraged and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What would be your 10th tip? Let’s talk in Comments.
Tired of the fussing and distance? Want to restore joy, healing and happiness to your marriage? Or maybe you just want to love better, create the marriage of your dreams, God’s way. My book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After In The Early Years will set you on that road. Buy it here Amazon Paperback I Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF