How do we minister to our wives? How do we encourage them, especially when their hearts are weary?
It's a question I've heard in countless counseling sessions with men over the years. It's a question I wrestle with myself. As a pastor of a church full of young married couples, the topic of marriage -- loving our wives and serving them well -- comes up often. New and old husbands alike struggle with this. I am almost 35 and have been married for 10 years. Yet it's a struggle that I have, and every new season of life presents the question again. Today, in this season, what does it look like to minister to my soul-wearied wife?
Perhaps your wife spends her days ministering to the needs of young children. Through all of the meals made, car-rides, diapers changed, sleep deprivation, doctors visited, discipline and instruction given, your wife is likely weary. She may not wear it on her sleeve because she doesn’t want to look weak, or ungrateful, or unsupportive of you. Or it may be very evident as she shares that life is challenging and some days are very hard. You may not have noticed, not because you don't care but because you are busy trying to keep up with the pace of life as well.
Wherever this post finds you and your wife, know that your job is not to fix your wife's tiredness, but your responsibility is to minister to her when she finds herself in this place. Hear that, husband: tired is ok. You cannot create an environment for your wife that is perfect and you cannot protect her from weariness. It’s part of the calling. However, you can minister to her soul when she becomes weary. Here are 4 simple, practical ways to do so.
1. Use your lunch break at work to have lunch with her.
Perhaps our lunch hours are filled with work meetings where we discuss life and ministry over good food. Or perhaps they are spent in the quiet of our office where we can work or think, or catch our breath in a moment of solitude. In the meantime, many of our wives are at home day after day talking with our toddlers about not eating the cat-litter. Take one lunch a week and go home, or meet her somewhere. Ask her how her morning has been. Listen. Care.
2. Give her a night off.
Plan and make dinner for the family. When you get home from work, it’s her time to clock out. Take over all kid-duties and all home-duties. Give her some money (even $10 works for those of us on tight budgets) and say, “It’s yours. Eat with us or go grab Chipotle" (or whatever). "Go for a walk, a quiet drive, go wander the aisles of Target, or find a place to enjoy a cup of coffee and a book. If you prefer stay home, go take a bath, and do whatever will restore your soul. The night is yours.”
3. Take her on an after-hours date.
After dinner and bedtime routine is done have someone come over and babysit the kids. You usually don’t have to pay much after the kids are in bed (or find a friend who was going to be studying or doing laundry anyways and ask them if they would do it at your place). Then take your wife for a walk in a park or a drive, get ice cream or coffee, just laugh and talk and connect. Come prepared with a topic of discussion, but be ok with silence also. Last week my wife and I grabbed some ice cream and parked our car on a country road to watch the lightning storm. Very few words were spoken and it ministered to us both.
On your date nights or date moments, don’t talk business. Make other times for budget talks, schedule overhauls, and hashing through relationship struggles. Just have fun on your date. Talk about memories, past dates, fun stories, hopes, etc. Enjoy each other and your friendship.
I am praying for you, husbands.