Trial in the church takes a massive emotional and spiritual toll on the ministry leader. The unseen weight of that trial often falls on the ministry wife because there’s simply nothing left in the husband’s tank when he comes home. When you see your husband struggle, you may not be sure how to help or if you should. There’s a fine line between leaving him to his own devices because he’s competent and capable enough to figure things out on his own and absorbing his responsibilities at home to shield him from day-to-day life until the season of trial passes.
In this blog post series, we’re unpacking three main areas a ministry couple are attacked the most when there’s trial in the church and what you, as a ministry wife can do to safeguard and protect them. In a previous post, we covered self-care for the ministry wife. In this post, we’ll discuss your husband, and how to uncover the middle ground between ignoring his stress and coddling him.
A Helpmate not a Hinderer
Our goal as helpmate is to do just that, help. When you adopt some of the home and family responsibilities usually reserved for your husband because he’s spread too thin, you run the risk of exempting him from his actual duty and potentially undermine his role. Additionally, we often forget he wants to be an active participant at home but may not have the bandwidth. So while yard work or taking a child to soccer practice may seem like benign things to do on his behalf, sometimes a guy just really needs to whack the heck out of a hedge or sit outside watching his kid play with other kids, as an outlet.
In this, we need discernment over our motives and actions to what actually creates relief rather than something that hinders his growth and dependence on the Lord or provides a necessary diversion. Before taking on something your husband normally would, prayerfully consider (and even ask him directly) if it would be a true help or something that, over time, is harmful.
Create Space to Talk
One burden, but also blessing for the ministry wife, is that we are the sounding board/receiver of raw emotion/safe space for the ministry husband to unload his day. When I am busy, I don’t have a lot of mental energy to engage in difficult conversations. During a trial, it is helpful if I can clear added obligations from my calendar so I can be available to listen and engage well if my husband needs to talk. Maybe this doesn’t seem like a possibility for you if you have your own career or pressing responsibilities, but re-evaluating commitments and prioritizing what is “necessary” so you can be more mentally and emotionally present when your husband needs to talk is worth a look.
This also means having a discussion regarding the timing of conversations to the benefit of you both. My husband used to start opening up to me right when I was going to bed. Not only was I too tired to listen well, I was already operating on fumes with the added strain of not having as much of his help around the house and our two young children. We were able to talk about timing conversations and it helped both of us better prepare for them and each other.
Show Love in Practical Ways
Whether it’s mastering his favorite meal, taking a few moments to run your fingers through his hair, or leaving an encouraging note where he will see it, the seemingly little things help ground a man to his home and family. Even when Ryan and I were most at odds under the strain of trial, his favorite meal on the table reminded him I loved him and was still on his side.
It isn’t Easy
When you are frustrated with trial in the church because of what it is doing to your husband (or how he’s responding because of it), showing him extra emotional care can be a challenge. Prayerfully consider where you can set aside that frustration to support your covenanted partner in prayer and practical encouragement to help ease some of that tension.
The most important way to care for your husband in a time of trial is to show him Christ first. As an image bearer, you can reflect God’s truth, grace, and goodness to him in your actions, words, and encouragement in the Lord. Ultimately, your marriage covenant is to God first. Operating out of that truth in accountability to him, helps embolden you to love the spouse he’s given you well. When you put your time in the Lord first, (see the ministry wife self-care post), this care becomes that much easier and that much sweeter.