What Can a Husband Do?

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Across the internet pond, Calah, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth have created a much needed conversation about mothering life and community.  When a part of the body of Christ is suffering, all feel the wound.  It hurts to read Calah’s words of sorrow and pain.  Chin-up sister, we are here to support you.

Men struggle with a number of things.  We fight the temptations, sometimes we fail, sometimes we battle and succeed but only succeed with the help of grace from a Father that loves us.  When we fall, He gives us the grace to get back in the game and continues to love us.  We are truly blessed to be children of God!  I take tremendous comfort in knowing that the Father sees us struggle, offers His divine love, and His divine mercy in the case that we fall short.

I think it is common trait of men in general and husbands in particular to want to fix things.  We are good at it too.  We climb under sinks and cars, tighten hinges, and build complex toys and house furniture.  Sometimes men need help with fixing people though, especially when the emotions are involved.  Sometimes we need help offering our wives compassion.

If our wives are going through a rough time, what are some good responses that a husband can do to be compassionate with their bride?  How can we suffer with you so that we can carry this cross together?

J.Q. Tomanek

J.Q. Tomanek

J.Q. lives in the country of Texas with his wife Denise, a Southern Belle from Trinidad and Tobago, and his three children. He holds two graduate degrees from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, an MBA and Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Having taught for five years in Catholic education, he now works in the construction industry in Victoria, TX. He is a parishioner of Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus Parish in the Diocese of Victoria.

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11 thoughts on “What Can a Husband Do?”

  1. Avatar

    I’m so glad that Calah, you and others are having this conversation. I think Elizabeth nailed it when she said when her husband asked how he could help, she wanted to say “do everything!”. For me, the biggest thing is knowing that my husband is willing to give it all…that we really are both 100% invested in parenting. He took our newborn for 3 hour walks or car rides in the middle of the night without a single word of complaint. Now he insists on taking our toddler out in the morning (he works a night shift) so that I can get through the worst of the day’s morning sickness in peace. He constantly and quietly carries his cross in a way that makes it look easy…dang, I love him!
    Ask your wife how you can help, and let her know how much you appreciate all that she does.

  2. Avatar

    There are a few key things my husband does in particular that is helpful. First, he started going to church when I started, even though he wasn’t particularly interested in reverting at the time, but he went in support of me. Second, he is trustworthy; I know he will be there for us no matter what, even when I’m down and not my best. Third, he speaks kindly to me and about me. He doesn’t complain when I’m grumpy or don’t get this or that done. He thanks me in front of the children. He points out to the children things that I do for the family. And he usually counters my grumblings with some positive comment to keep me from spiraling into negativity.

    Just the fact that you’re asking this question probably means you’re helping your wife. God bless!

  3. Avatar

    Whatever you do, let her know you’re doing it because you love her and want to help her carry her cross. Not “I don’t want to do this, but I’m willing to” but “I want to.”

    Say “What can I do for you?” followed by attentive listening, followed by “I’d be glad to.” And then do it, lovingly. With the attitude outlined above.

    Find ways to remind her that she is a priority and that you’re with her, period. Say it in small ways and she’ll know you mean it in big ways. For example: make it a priority to listen to her when she’s speaking. (Turn off the TV. Close your computer.) Make it a priority to remember (and do) the things you said you’d help with. If you work all day, make it a priority to think about her – offer your sufferings throughout the day (stress at the office? don’t feel like doing your work? uncomfortable tie?) for her. Pick up a bag of M&Ms for her on the way home. Things like that.

    Pay attention to things she is consistently stressed about, consistently doesn’t like doing, etc., and fix those things. If you can’t fix the big thing, make a point of fixing little things for her. Does she sigh reluctantly every time she realizes the bathroom is a mess? Then clean it. Weekly. Or spend three minutes tidying it every evening. Insist on doing it. Again, with that “I want to” attitude.

    Pray together. Not just reciting prayers but spiritual intimacy with God and spouse.

    Try not to complain about your own cross; it will probably make her feel worse about you helping her carry hers. Spend some of your own time in the chapel regaining your strength because you need it, and your wife needs it.

    1. Avatar

      Mary, you make a very good point! Doing something while acting like not wanting to pretty much negates the effectiveness of it being a sign of love. Where women need this more so in the emotional life, I can say it is as important in a couple’s sexual intimacy especially for men. I hear men say the exact same things you mention but in reference to marital intercourse. It is great you mentioned this and I am sure many men can now relate to their wife’s emotional health much better! Thanks.

  4. Avatar

    In our struggle with first primary, and now secondary infertility, my husband has been a god-send. He holds the hope for the both of us. When I am weeping on the bathroom floor over yet another negative test, and yet another pregnancy announcement, he is the one who reminds me that God is good, even when it hurts. He wordlessly and without prompting shoulders both of our crosses in the moments when I am too weak to carry mine. He doesn’t try to fix it (because he can’t), but he does listen, and he asks me what he can do not to fix the situation, but to help me carry this burden.

    A good husband is worth everything in the world.

  5. Pingback: What Can a Wife Do? : IgnitumToday

  6. Avatar
    Perinatal Loss Nurse

    I think the most important thing a husband can do is to never ever allow resentment to ever take a foothold in his mind or heart…especially resentment that he thinks he is savvy enough to hide. It is poison and will destroy. If you find yourself getting resentful, search out the source of the resentment…are you getting lazy? is your wife making unreasonable demands? some other cause? Have the conversation no matter how hard it is. If you can function without resentment, so many good things can flow naturally from you.

    Also, Im not a huge devotee of the whole “love language” idea in terms of it being a panacea of a peacemaking, but I do see some value is knowing what speaks to your beloved’s heart. I found for me, though…my love language being ignored was what fueled some of my suffering that likely sparked some of my maturity. I needed that maturity, but I don’t like what I experienced to gain that trait.

    My earthly marriage is over since my husband died 3 months ago. Today I started wondering if it would be a good idea to pray for any future husband that I may have…I dont know what that prayer would be like since there is no guarantee that I will ever have one (there are 4 widows for every widower) any advise for me?

    1. Avatar

      Perinatal Loss Nurse, please accept my sorrow for your loss.

      Regarding your comment, resentment is a killer and your advice to seek out its root ASAP is very good. This can be a good place to consider spiritual direction and perhaps counseling. Relationships are work and I mean that in a very good way.

      I don’t have a lot of advice to share other than five yourself time. I don’t mean like so many days or hours. More like be patient with yourself. When something major has happened in my life, I tend to want to fix it quick. This can be in regards to finding someone or something simple as deciding where to go on vacation.

      1. Avatar
        Perinatal Loss Nurse

        Yes, thank you. The “finding someone” I expect to be a mystery for a while as God heals my heart. The “where to go on vacation” ….well that will be London, with my daughter. If life is really THIS short then we need to go live a little.

        I will share something precious with you all, my husband had a full Mass where we live before he was taken back home for a full Mass and burial there where all his relatives are. His family awaited him there and his brothers/childhood friends were his pall bearers at home. Back here we needed pall bearers so in addition to my sons, some fathers who I cared for at the deaths of their babies served in this sacred task. They had also all been in the Marine Corps..Semper Fidelis.

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