Feeling alone, distant, withdrawn is something that I can do very well. Sometimes under stress I can pull back from those around me, including my wife. In Kate’s post, “As I Walk Alone” she talked about remembering that God is with us, even when we feel alone in our marriage. Today I wanted to give both husbands and wives some tangible ideas and techniques to bridge the gap if you are feeling alone, feeling that your spouse had emotionally retreated.
I’m not sure exactly why I feel the need to retreat when life gets a little out of control, but from talking to several guys I have recognized that this is a very common response. Many men, under stress retreat into themselves. As I said in my post on stress, “Stress the Man Way or One Way” I encourage guys to fight this tendency and allow their wife to share the burdens, to communicate the stresses, and open up.
So what do you do when you see the stress in your husband or wife and they are not opening up? How can you say, “hey share what’s on your mind” without simply adding to problem?
Here are 4 ideas to change retreat alone, into advance together.
Stop and ask God specifically for peace, for guidance in how you can help, and for wisdom in addressing the situation with your spouse. Keep connecting with God and he will show you a way!
Yes I know that was number 1, but this time do more then say a prayer just between you and God. Write your prayer and send it to your spouse in an email or letter. It is a great way to let them know that you recognize the stress they are under, that you want to help, and that you are there for them! Kate did this for me today, and I admit it brought tears to my eyes knowing that she was walking this journey with me!
3. Open the Communication Door
If your husband or wife has not communicated about something stressful then you need to create an opportunity for them to communicate. We often wait around for them to take the initiative. They are the ones that retreated, so it should be their responsibility to change right? Wrong! You are in this together, and your goal is to Advance Together, not simply to be there when they advance again. You need to create a time and space to communicate together. Work to eliminate distractions for a specific time. Find a time just the two of you, and open up the door.
4. Be Quiet
When one of you is under stress it is easy for the other to want to swoop in and try to fix it. Unfortunately, this almost never works. In fact, it might be what is keeping your spouse from actually sharing what is going on. If you see they have retreated, then open the door and just listen. As they begin to share listen with the goal of understanding them, their thoughts, their emotions, their ideas. It is in the understanding not the solution that you will start to feel together.
Keep communicating and keep praying!
What has your husband or wife done to help you feel that they are with you and that you don’t have to walk alone?