Q: My husband’s stress level has been through the roof lately. His job is really taking its toll on him. Is there anything I can do to help?
A: Men derive an enormous amount of their self-esteem from their work. And when the job is no longer a challenge, when the routine or the pressures or the hassles get to be too much, a man may need a career change. He may be ready to start over, take a cut in pay, and risk failure just to follow his dream.
Are you willing to come alongside your husband and listen to his goals and what he longs to accomplish in life? Do your words and attitudes toward his dreams empower him, or are you holding him back out of your own fear and insecurity?
How can you discover your husband’s dreams and strategize to help him achieve them? Here are a number of suggestions:
Be prayerful. Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” Stay close to the Lord in prayer. Let God into your heart, and tell him how you long to help your husband discover new career opportunities that will fulfill his dreams. Tell your husband that you long for God’s best for him and that you are committed to seeking God with him about the future of his career.
Be alert to the activities that bring him joy. Does he like what he is doing? Do his training and skills line up with his life goals and dreams? Would other careers or positions bring him greater fulfillment? If you don’t know, ask him.
Help him gain the training, skills, or degree that will equip him for fulfilling work. This may mean volunteering to work longer hours or cutting back expenses so he can take some classes. Let him know that you will do whatever it takes to help him follow God’s leading in his career.
Believe in him. Your affirmation of belief in your husband’s calling and purpose can rekindle hope that has died and ignite the fire of purpose and his passion for life.
Respect him. The bottom line is this: Your husband may have the respect of others, but he needs to know that you respect him. With your confidence in his decisions, he can face any obstacle. Tell him, “What you are doing is important. I see how much you put into that project. I appreciate how hard you work to provide for our family.” When you verbalize your respect, your words will help build your husband’s confidence as a man.
Encourage him. Your husband has a logical, problem-solving mind. Whether he is entering the boardroom at work or the basement at home, he is looking for something to fix. His brain doesn’t take vacation. Sometimes the tasks, relationships, and problems of everyday life tear him down and discourage him because not every problem can be solved. You can be a refreshing presence that breathes encouragement. As you discuss your day together, look for opportunities to affirm him: “Honey, I’m so proud of the way you handled your boss’s criticism”; “Your work is really making a difference, even if others don’t notice”; “You are such a caring husband and father. The kids and I are so blessed.” Remind him that you are grateful for, and thank God for, his character qualities and the wisdom he shows in making tough decisions all day long.
Never underestimate your role in your husband’s life. In Genesis, God refers to the first woman as a “helper” to her husband. Here is something very amazing. The Hebrew word translated “helper” is more accurately translated “completer.” Elsewhere in the Old Testament this word is always used in reference to God himself. This means you occupy a position of dignity, honor, and incredible value in your husband’s life! You complete your husband as no one else can.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!