Call me old-fashioned, but I love serving my man. I love being the woman who builds her man up, encourages him, makes him the best sandwich there ever was, and send him off with a kiss. I think when we first got into a relationship with the man we fall in love with, we all experience a selfless kind of love. The kind of love where we put the other, first. But the truth is, life happens, kids happen, routines happen, we experience ups and downs and life is not always easy. When things get busy and heavy, it’s very easy to fall into ruts, and the idea of servant-hood quickly becomes less desirable.
In today’s culture, women have countless opportunities to seek help when we struggle. Women are encouraged to go to therapy, join support groups, have play dates with mommy friends, etc. Most women are more connected with other women more than our men, which helps us greatly with our struggles.
But what about our men?
Men don’t seek help the same way women do. They handle their emotions or problems differently. The majority were taught growing up to not speak about their emotions because that’s not what real men do. Some suffer in silence, some squander, some are clueless about how to deal with things when they aren’t doing so well. And this affects not only themselves, but the family as a whole.
So I sought out male advice. What should women do (or not do) when our men are struggling?
Give him space.
When men struggle, most want space. This will allow time for them to try and process what’s going on by themselves. Most men are natural “fixers” and like to “fix” things on their own. Give him time to figure it out.
Allow him time to be alone and/or be with his guy friends.
Men need support just like women. If he wants to go to guys night and play fantasy football, not only allow him, but encourage him! If he needs to go to the gym alone, or go take a drive, let him go. Sometimes men occasionally need to step back from the household to gain some perspective.
Let him come to you.
When he’s done having his space, let him come to you. Don’t constantly badger him to talk about his feelings when he’s not ready. Once he’s had alone time, guy time, or space, chances are he’ll be ready to come to you about the issue.
Help him work through his thought process rather than you giving him solutions that YOU think are right.
When he’s ready, help him work through his thoughts rather than you telling him what to think. Let him talk and help him get to his end point in figuring out the issue. Ask him questions like “Is everything ok?” “What do you think caused this?” “What changes can you make?” “What is it that you need from me?” And most importantly, listen.
Keep your opinions to yourself, unless they are asked for.
Don’t go off on an opinion rant. He’ll most probably shut down. When men are struggling, they probably don’t want to hear your opinion. If they do, they’ll ask.
If you notice your man struggling, help build him up with your words. Women like words of affirmation, men do too. We all need some encouragement from time to time. Men love to feel appreciated and noticed for working hard.
Make him feel like a man.
Most men like to feel like a real man. They want to be the leaders and the protectors of the family. If not, whatever role he likes to play in family dynamics, make him feel like he’s doing the best job ever.
I know what you’re thinking. “I have to take care of A MILLION things, including kids, my job, household duties, etc. Why can’t my man handle his own? This is just ANOTHER thing to add to the list of things I need to handle. I’m struggling to take care of myself.” I know life gets busy and there is hardly any time left at the end of each day to even THINK about underlying issues, but remember when you made the choice to marry this man. Think back to the beginning when it was just you and him. This means choosing him over, and over, and over again. As he should do for you.