Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Anonymous Mommy Needs Help

Hello mommies, I'm struggling with how little my husband helps with my daughter's care and household. I know he works outside the home but I never get a break. He seems to be able to eat several hot meals a day, shower, and have downtime...while I will go days without a shower. We are totally out of balance and resentment has definitely set in for me. I am angry all the time with him, irritated, annoyed, and feeling stuck. I don't want our marriage to be over, I need what LITTLE help I get but how can I make this resentment a little less overwhelming. I truly have enough emotional baggage just caring for my very sick little girl...so I don't need to add being po'd at my husband all the time...but I cannot seem to shake it or help it. "Date nights" and "me time" have been off the table for years...so while I appreciate those suggestions they are not feasible for us/me. I just want to feel better, and stop feeling so angry. HELP!

Dear Anonymous Mom,

I am sorry for your seemingly overwhelming struggles. Having been through that period of my life with four children under six years old and being sick, I can empathize with your feelings and situation. No one can fully put themselves in your shoes, and if you are a Christian, you must depend upon the Holy Spirit to carry you through this.

The key to obtaining more help from a spouse is to first create awareness. Awareness is the tool that all of us need to see what we are doing wrong and to make corrections. I assume that you have told your husband multiple times that he needs to help more and that you are at the end of your rope, but remember, awareness has multiple layers. It is one thing to hear “My wife is asking for help” and to actually register the words correctly “My wife needs my help.” You can see the message is just slightly different but in the brain the second “needs my help” creates the mental pathway that a reasonable husband will try to begin giving some sort of help. 

Getting that second message registered is often harder than it looks, especially if a husband or wife has strong fleshly habits. These habits have built into the brain a defense mechanism that will not allow the truth to sink in, unless you can beat the defenses with various forms of positive communications. Nagging and being moody over not getting help will be counterproductive negative communications that will only bring reinforcements to his mental barriers. This is why “winning a husband without a word by your godly behavior” proves so effective. 

The ideal is to always win your husband by being kind, considerate, gentle and treating him with respect as it keeps his defenses down and allows you to speak truth to him. If you are to win this battle, it is generally won by finding the weeds in his bad thinking and replacing them with the truth. What is truth? Well, besides you needing help, he needs to realize that not doing his fair share to help is really not loving his One-Flesh marriage. Even if he is married to a complainer, which of course you are not,he still must show you love by giving you hope that each day you can succeed and that things will get better.

Find the right moment to ask if you can discuss the issue with him. Instead of just blurting out, “Can’t you see I need help?” or whatever communications you have been using, find a time when you believe your husband is in the listening mood and go plop yourself on his lap or beside him, or take him upstairs to the bedroom by saying, “Can we cuddle?”

Once you are cuddling, start showing some affection with kisses and hugs, etc. Remember, all of this extra effort should not have to be necessary in a normal marriage, but you are saying that your marriage is on the ropes and needs exceptional communication’s skills to get through to your husband on this important issue. Rest on his shoulder and maybe say something like this: “You know Dan, I care about you very much and I want you to be happy, but recently I feel like I am at my wits end trying to take care of Emily and all the rest I have to do. Is there any way that I can get some more help from you? I know you are busy with work, and I can do most things, but can I ask you to just do three things each day that may make a world of difference for me and my sanity.”

Think through your list of things and be realistic with what you can get from him this first go round. Just getting him starting to think about how he can help and doing some things for you can begin the process of change.

Hopefully this family communication’s session goes great and maybe love making results to help confirm your love commitment to him and his commitment to you. Later that evening, ask him with a smile if you can post the three things on the refrigerator to help him remember. Then the next day in his lunch bucket, or somehow, get him a handmade card telling him how much better you feel just knowing that he is willing to help give you some relief and how much you appreciate it. Each time he does anything to help, don’t show him disdain for not doing more, but appreciation for starting the process of helping. Change does not come easy for some, especially if we have bad habits. But if you can get to this point you have climbed the mountain and are starting the easier decent in to getting what you need.

Perhaps you can picture many various similar approaches, all done graciously and kindly, but staying with the process until your husband has formed a new spirit of willingness to help and new habits. It is a shame that a husband cannot see when a wife needs help, or will not respond to her direct requests, but people are who they are, so wishing they were more mature will not make them more mature. Instead you have to help grow your husband, and if you are a Believer, God can and will help you with this process if you do things the way He says.

God says, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” {I Peter 3:1}. This is really communications and people management 101 that you will get much more change from a person if you are clear in what you need from them and you ask nicely, and respectfully, than if you scold or pout or are moody. Yes, we all wish your husband was different than he is, but he is your husband, the man you chose to marry because of all the good qualities he has. Make a list of his good qualities and try to focus upon them each day, and do not panic if things do not progress quickly. See if you can muster the strength to give this at least 45 days more, and watch and see what your man may do to change. Do not be afraid to encourage him, not nag him, and to praise him for the smallest of successes.

Two things to remember, first is that most wives hit this rock bottom time in their early marriage and child rearing years when all seems hopeless, and especially hopeless that we will ever have the husband we really thought we were marrying. I can guarantee from the personal experience of almost every mother I know that it gets better and our men usually grow up and mature into helpful, serving husbands. They just carry that bachelor and single approach into a marriage and it does not work when a family is being created so they must change and start helping. How we help with the process of awareness and change is vital, so remember this key principle ~

You can never get someone to change their behavior until you first get them to change their thinking. So long as your husband either does not see you need help, or believe you really need help, or can see that he has to give things up in his life so that he can help, he will never change. Explore with him gently why he does not help by asking questions without making accusations.

“Honey, why is it that you want to come home at 8 p.m. at night after your softball game and put your feet up on the couch with your beer and expect me to put the kids in bed? I am just curious as to what you are thinking?”

If said nicely with no accusations, you will force him to think about what a jerk he is being towards you and the kids. Keep asking questions instead of making statements. Questions that force him to think about his poor behavior and then ask, “If you were me, what should I be thinking when I get so little help from you? Should I just be happy I married this big lump of coal?” and walk over and give him a big hug with a big smile.

I think you get the point that although you are making requests and asking good questions that may lead to changed thinking and in turn changed behavior, you are doing it in a kind, gentle and God honoring way. Don’t get me wrong, your husband sounds like a big six year old who has never grown up and is not prepared for marriage, but guess what? He is your big baby and God will help change him if you follow one of God’s main principles “to win him by your chaste and godly behavior.” As you deal with him in kindness, but still showing him the right way, God can enter into your relationship and propel him forward to changed behavior. 

And guess what, when we change behavior and begin to mature and grow as individuals, it is usually only then that we can look back and see what type of jerks we were with our selfishness, our moods and our poor behaviors. Be careful that you too follow this process of change and renew your strength in the Lord and give this a 45 day try to change your man by lovingly and specifically helping him see where he can help you. Then if that does not seem to work, go find an older godly women who can coach you regularly, or maybe another couple whose husband is helpful to his wife to help mentor the two of you. Never lose hope, and do not stop questioning and seeking help until you are sensing things are on the right track.

*** Helped written by Ken