Retreat Alone ~ Advance Together

Brad says…

Feeling alone, distant, withdrawn is something that I can do very well.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.

Walking Alone

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.

1. Pray

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!

2. Pray

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?

7 Responses to Retreat Alone ~ Advance Together
  1. Tom and Debi Walter
    November 4, 2011 | 1:38 pm

    Brad – I can say a hearty AMEN to the “Be Quiet” part. We rarely listen without thinking of what our response is going to be. Our spouse needs to know I care enough to listen without trying to fix it. Something Tom does well, and I’m learning to do. Excellent post!

    • Brad & Kate Aldrich
      November 4, 2011 | 5:57 pm

      Debi,
      Thank you for your comment! Listening just really listening can be a real challenge. That being said I think it is in the listening that we really feel connected with our spouse. The feeling that Kate really gets me, really heard, is much more powerful of a connection then finding the solution to any specific problem.
      Thank you so much & God Bless,
      Brad

      • Brad & Kate Aldrich
        November 10, 2011 | 3:03 pm

        Hi IAAMM,
        Thanks for writing and sharing your story. I hear what you are saying and to tell you the truth I struggled with my hubby’s moods in early years of our marriage. But I struggled because it affected me in some inconvenient way. When I stopped and realized how selfish that was of me, I started to make myself available to him so that I could help him and meet his needs. When Brad is in a solemn mood of some sort, I try my best to be the wife he needs. Sometimes he just needs a hug, sometimes he need to have my undivided attention for 20 min to tell me about his stressful day, sometimes he need to make love to me, sometimes he needs a couple of hours away from the kids to relax and reflect. I try to be creative and find ways to meet his needs.

        I hear your frustration, but I would challenge you to NOT ignore your hubby’s solemn moods. He needs you. You are the one person in his life that God designed to be able to shoulder his stresses and sadness with. You are the only one that can comfort and bring him joy in an intimate way. Don’t forget that or play it down. It is essential to your husbands well being. Ignoring him probably makes him feel very little and as if he does not exist. You are essentially saying, “I know you are in a mood, but I don’t have enough time to deal with you, so deal with yourself.” I don’t know about you, but that would hurt me greatly. Love your hubby, love him by respecting him enough to be attentive to his moods. I am sure he does not want to be a solemn mood, but God has give you the right and the power (in a sense) to be salve on his heart and mood. Don’t take that lightly or as a burden, but as a priveledge and honor.

        Know that I will be praying for you and your hubby! Blessings to you both! Kate

  2. Happy Hour | The Romantic Vineyard
    November 4, 2011 | 5:11 pm

    […] Retreat Alone – Advance Together – How does your spouse handle stress? Do they tend to retreat into themselves? Do you feel left out of the struggle? Brad offers great advice on how to help the retreating spouse. […]

  3. IAAMM
    November 5, 2011 | 9:39 pm

    To be honest, when I notice that my husband is in a solemn mood, I purposely ignore his indifference. I’d rather act normally. Eventually, he snaps out of it and speaks on whatever is bothering him when he’s ready.

  4. Deb
    November 6, 2011 | 7:12 pm

    Brad,
    I’ve been contemplating your blog entry all day.  I appreciate your prescription to not allowing the silent divide.  Your insight is particularly helpful from a man’s perspective.
    We have been married 30 years and in some ways our marriage is more challenging than it ever has been.  This issue of emotional loneliness looms constantly.  I read your wife’s blog post on this as well and found it encouraging.  Two things I’ve reflected on  myself…..  We, as individuals, need to be centered on Jesus Christ. He alone should meet our need above all other.  The other would be the lack of discipleship we have for our spouse (and our spouse for us) in our marriage.  I cringe at the comment above by IAAMM.  Her husband is selfish and that sin should be lovingly confronted in his life not ignored until it goes away.  Over the years this will become a sore spot and create distance.  I have been blessed by the ministry of Rick Thomas on life issues particularly to do with marriage.  I have found him to present the Bible in such a way that we can live the Gospel of Jesus on a daily basis with VICTORY in our lives.  The following link is one on discipleship that has greatly encouraged me   
    I enjoy your blog particularly because you both write!

    Deb

    • Brad & Kate Aldrich
      November 10, 2011 | 2:54 pm

      Hi Deb! Thanks for writing and sharing your story. I appreciate your comments and insights, greatly! I too feel that we as individuals need to keep Jesus as the center of our lives and it should be our number one focus. It is from that place that your one flesh marriage journey can grow in Him. I too agree that we must be attentive when our spouse is struggling. Whether it be selfishness or other things. We need to love them regardless, extend them grace and sometimes lovingly confront. But ignoring will only make the gap wider in a marriage. Thank you for the link you shared. The more marriage resources out there the better.

      Thanks you as well for your encouragement! Brad and I love to discuss topics together and God has used that dynamic He created in our one flesh union for His glory. This is His blog and we are just so amazed and blessed to be His vessels! Blessings to you and your hubby! Kate

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