“A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day.” Proverbs 27:15
Easing the tremendous burdens that our husbands carry is one of the most important aspects of being a suitable helper. However, all too often, most wives tend to resemble the constant drips of rain. I have personally seen the incredible effect that my attitude, my worries, and my complaints can have on my husband. I have watched him crumble beneath my words as his burden grows and weighs heavily upon his shoulders. I have also seen him lifted as I make the effort to curb my negative words around him. The power of a wife is an amazing thing and must be handled with wisdom and discretion.
I admit that this is one of the weakest areas in my life. I tend to voice complaints, worries, nags, concerns, or a bad attitude on the worst days and in the most un-Christ-like ways. There are many details of our daily lives that our husbands simply do not need to know. Plus, there is always a gentle kind way to inform him of those things that he does need to know. Many women, myself especially, tend to live in the realm of the “what ifs” and “if onlys”. These concerns are worries and not realities, what the Bible refers to as vain imaginations or futile thinking. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:21
Our husbands bear the responsibility of providing financially for the family, being certain that everyone is cared for, and that they are happy. Frequently, those weights are needlessly added to by a wife’s vain imaginations about things that might go wrong or things that could have gone better. For example, your husband begins to talk with you about the possibility of planning a summer vacation for the family. You instantly get a frown on your face saying things such as, “But what if your bonus does not come through. You know we never will be able to afford such a trip without that bonus. Besides, we would never all agree to the same place.” Your assumption about the bonus and your family’s decision has hampered your husband’s joy and placed heavier weight on him to not only find a way to make the vacation happen, but also a way to ensure that it go splendidly. Another example, your husband comes to you and says that he would like for you to wait to purchase the kids’ school clothes for a couple of weeks. Instead of realizing that this is not an immediate need and that it would not hurt to wait, you state with a humph, “If only you had not went on that fishing trip last month then we would have the money to care for our children.” Your husband did not think that he was neglecting his children, but now he bears the guilt of enjoying a much-needed weekend with friends at the expense of his children’s well being.
Not all examples have to be in regards to financial matters. Sometimes they are simply details that do not have to be shared. Let us say that your husband comes home from a long day at work and while you are finishing up supper he is enjoying some quality time with your toddler. You can hear the squeals of laughter over the clanking of plates. As you sit down to dinner you husband is smiling and you state with a hint of resentment in your voice, “That baby has not been that happy all day. He has done nothing but fuss and throw fits since he woke up this morning. But I am glad that you were able to enjoy some peace with him.” Now what was a moment of joy and relaxation for your husband at the end of the day has become a burden of guilt and frustration. It is not that what you said was wrong, it was simply information that did not need to be relayed. You could have merely enjoyed the refreshing break from your son and the laughter he was sharing with his father.
Hopefully you are beginning to see the potential that we have as wives to either ease or contribute to the burdens that our husbands carry. There are two factors that have challenged me in this area of my life. One is simply watching my husband. As I have tried to become more sensitive I can literally see my words, actions, or attitudes causing him to either strain under the pressure of his burdens or encourage his soul. I want my words and actions to lift Lee up, not push him down. The second factor is what we do not see in the lives of the godly women in the Word of God. Let’s take a look at a few illustrations…
In 1 Samuel chapter one, we read the tale of Hannah. “There was a certain man from Ramathaim, whose name was Eklanah. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none…and because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:1,2,6,7,10 Nowhere in this entire tale of heartache and confusion do we hear Hannah complaining to her husband. She could have nagged him about having two wives, or steadily complained to him about Peninnah’s treatment. She could have demanded that he do something with his other wife, or cried to him daily over her barrenness. Rather than see her add weight to Elkanah’s concern for her, we see her turn to the Lord. She did not deny the fact that she was hurting. She only made sure that she directed her frustration and pain towards the Lord who could fill the void in her heart and bless her with the miracle of children. There was nothing that Elkanah could do. We can rest assured that he did love her and wanted to make her happy, yet he could not open her womb and bring forth life. Only the Lord could do that, so she turned in the right direction. And the Lord answered her cry! “So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1:20
Next, let us take a glimpse at Abigail. After Abigail’s husband Nabal mistreated David and his men, David was intent upon slaughtering the entire household. “One of the servants told Nabal’s wife Abigail: ‘David sent messengers from the desert to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.” 1 Samuel 25:14,17 From this point, Abigail had every good reason to run straight to her husband. She could have gone home full of complaints and reprimands. She would not have been wrong in her judgment of his decisions or actions. He had put their entire household at risk with his stubbornness. Yet, what good would her angry words have accomplished? Probably no good would come but most assuredly the slaughter of her household would have. What did Abigail do? “Abigail lost no time. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, …but she did not tell her husband.” 1 Samuel 25:18, 19 She acted through an area that she had control over, and using wisdom and discretion she chose not to inform her husband of her actions. She saved her husband from the possible burden of guilt over the heartache he had caused his household or she stopped him from committing further sin in his anger and pride. The outcome? “David said to Abigail, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me.’ Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, ‘Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.” 1 Samuel 25:32 & 35
Let us look at one last example, Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. We read of her tale in the first few chapters of the Gospel of Luke. Elizabeth, like Hannah, longed to bear children, yet remained barren even in her old age. Her husband, Zechariah, served as a priest before the Lord and during one of his duties of burning incense in the Lord’s temple an angel appeared before him. “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him… ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth will bear you a son and you will name him John.” Luke 1:11,13 Zechariah reacted with doubt and his punishment for that doubt was complete silence. He was unable to speak throughout Elizabeth’s entire pregnancy. What was Elizabeth’s response? She could have seen only her husband’s lack of faith. She could have rebelled in her anger and frustration at not being able to speak with him for so long. Instead, she reacted with praise and submission. Zechariah could not explain himself or even exactly what took place in the temple, but when Elizabeth became pregnant she immediately stated, “The Lord has done this for me,” Luke 1:25a Later after the child was born, she submitted to her husband’s wish to name him John although there was no one in their family with that name. Her reward? She was honored to be the mother of the man who would later prepare the way for Jesus to begin his ministry here on earth!
As I stated earlier, I am more challenged by what we do not see these women doing as opposed to what they did. There were ample opportunities and reasons to complain, nag, worry, yell and pout. Yet, none of these three women of God did any of those things. They reacted with gentleness, wisdom, sensitivity, discretion, and respect.
The Real World…
Conviction hangs heavy on my heart as I begin this section. This is one of those areas that the Lord is still refining. I write to you out of empathy that these are not necessarily easy things to do. Each one requires commitment, diligence, determination, and an incredible amount of strength from the Holy Spirit. BUT… “I can do everything though him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 So can you. With that, let’s figure out some hands-on ways to ease the burdens of our husbands on a daily basis.
Never react immediately. If your husband tells you something that you disagree with or something you are having a hard time accepting, do not simply react. Take a moment or two or however many are needed to gain a godly composure and perspective so that you can speak words of respect, life and encouragement. That does not mean that you must condone everything or repress every opinion, it merely means that you will be able to respond appropriately. Most likely, your husband realized that the news he was sharing was unpleasant. He does not need the added weight of your angry, harmful response. “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
Do not worry needlessly. That sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it? But it is true. If we would not spend hours mulling over the “what ifs” and “if onlys” of life, we would be amazed at how many of our worries would fade away. Our husbands need us to walk in faith and not in fear. By entertaining thoughts of worry and fear we allow the enemy to rob our home of peace and joy. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you.” We need to walk in assurance of the Lord’s care for us. Your husband may bear the weight of providing for the family, but you as a wife need to understand that he is not your source of provision. The Lord is your provider.
Make your home a refuge. Do not catalog all of the things that go wrong or get on your nerves throughout the day so you can unload them on your husband when he walks through the door. He is most likely tired and looking forward to a nice evening with his family. If he is bombarded with needs, complaints or a general bad attitude each day as he walks in the door, he will bear the burden of dreading coming home. Rather, make your home a refuge that your husband cannot wait to come home to each night. Greet him with a glass of cold water and his favorite television show. Help to ease the stress and fatigue of the day by being a fountain of joy and peace. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Let us take a moment to look at a few women in Proverbs who do not practice easing their husbands’ burdens.
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4
“Better to live on the corner of a roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Proverbs 21:9
“Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” Proverbs 21:19
The King James Version of those same verses uses adjectives such as brawling, contentious and angry to describe the wives. Make your home a refuge where your beloved can find peace, rest and strength while you “Do everything without complaining or arguing” Philippians 2:14
Do what you can. There are some things that you do not need to seek your husband’s counsel on. Take care of the areas that you have been entrusted with in such a manner of excellency that you husband never even has to think about them. For example, I take care of our finances. I am responsible for keeping the checkbook balanced and the entries accurate and up-to-date. Lee never has to guess if the balance shown is correct. He knows that he can glance at our checkbook and know where we stand financially.
Look for ways to help. Look for jobs that your husband may be doing that you could handle and offer to relieve him. It could be that he is doing some of those tasks just because they need to be done, but he would gladly allow you to assume responsibility. It could be as simple as phone calls that you could make for him during the day. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18 Just make sure that you ask your husband first and receive his permission.
Keep your requests to a minimum. One way that our husbands can feel overwhelmed physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially is by our constant need for things. Try to only ask your husband to take care of tasks around the house that you cannot handle. Keep your financial requests to what is necessary. I have seen as I have implemented this concept in my own life that my husband’s appreciation often demonstrates itself in joyful generosity. They are no longer blinded by the weight of our demands, so they can delight in meeting our needs.
All of these are fabulous ideas to ease the weight of the burdens that rest upon our husbands’ shoulders. I encourage you to take an inventory of your own life. If you see some areas where you have been like one of those wives from Proverbs then go to your husband in humility and repentance and ask him what you can do to help ease his load. Talk to your husband; ask him to access you in this area and then talk about specific ways that you can relieve his pressure. The fruit of your labor will be well worth the effort as you begin to see a more joyous husband and a much happier atmosphere in your home.