To the husband of the very overwhelmed mama:
We have been there and the memory is all too fresh in our minds. I have been where your wife is and my husband has been where you are. She is out of strength, feels like she can’t go on. To get up out of bed in the morning is more than her broken mind and body can bear. You have prayed, you have encouraged, you have sought the Lord in private with tears for your wife. She has bravely gotten up again with every last ounce of energy and tried to put on a smile for the children only to land in a heap of tears in your arms at the end of the day. The phone calls during the day while you are at work have become an expected part of your routine, as you try to walk her through the next step to keep going until you can relieve her in the evening.
It’s very real. It’s very hard. And it’s very painful. Walking through physical, mental, spiritual and emotional emptiness is a dark valley and your soul bleeds looking for help from above. You feel so unequipped and confused as to how to help her. She feels guilt that is weighing her down wondering why she cannot “snap out of it.”
So my writing is to you today. To the husband of the sweet mama who is dealing with the daily drowning and you are wondering if there is hope on the other side. I would like to give you a few practical tips of hope and encouragement.
- Pray, pray, pray! Implore the Lord for your wife and for God’s blessing on all your efforts including the things that I am about to share.
- Be open to the fact that this may indeed be physical. We have a stigma in the church regarding depression and mental trials. Hormones, stress, and bearing babies year after year can create a cycle of physical issues that can become severe over time. I have written several things on adrenal fatigue that explains this a bit more.
- Help her through her guilt and reassure her. If this is indeed a physical issue it still may not feel so to her. She may just think she should be able to “snap out of it”, “pull up her bootstraps” and have an “attitude adjustment.” The guilt over her lack of joy, her fatigue, her depression can weigh so deeply and she needs to know that Christ is there even in the midst of the darkness and can bring her out into the light. Help her to talk back to herself. The negative conversations going on her head are many times lies from the enemy. We are taught to take every thought captive. Many times our husbands need to help us by giving us words of encouragement.
- Nourish her body. She needs to be rebuilt, refreshed and renewed through nutrition, quality supplements, and sometimes yes, even medication. Do not fear medication in these instances. When our hormones out of whack and our chemicals get imbalanced there is no shame in using medication to help right that, at least for a time.
- Allow her to rest. Give her time away from the children, time to have her brain quiet from loads of input. Even if she is not at the place where I was when I was so bad I was put on a forced six week sabbatical, she needs to be able to reset. Give her space for daily resets, moments to be quiet in her room, allowances for sleeping in on Saturdays, and dinner with a close friend once in awhile. In other words give her permission to rest. Allow her “Me Time.” This is not selfish but is truly necessary for her ability to heal. I have written more on this over at Is Me Time Biblical?
- Get her help. Whether it is a young girl that can come in and read to the children while she takes a walk or a once a week housecleaner, pull in any kind of help that you can.
- Sit down with her and find out what her biggest stressors are. Does the house being messy give her a huge load of stress, than make that the priority to help her out with. Does the noise of the children make her feel like her head is spinning? Then help your children learn how to use inside voices. Identify some of the key issues to help make a lifestyle chance.
- Simplify your life. Cut out every extra thing in your lives right now to make life as simple as possible. Say no to extra activities and protect your wife by helping her say no to unnecessary commitments. Protect and shield her from busyness and overcommitment. Use paper plates, do not feel guilt about the children watching educational programs, and keep life simple. Are there expectations you have put on your family that could be a box of your own making?
- Hold her. Love her and assure her that things will be ok. She needs you to have the greatest patience with her right now. Let her cry, don’t try to fix things, just listen and sympathize with grace. Bear with with long suffering and understanding
- Help her remember that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning. Read scripture to her, bring her gently to the Shepherd every day. Remind her this is a season and that joy comes in the morning!
I hope these things can be a blessing and encouragement to you a you are walking through this valley. The Lord has pity and tender care for His children and He gently leads those that are with young!