It happens. Maybe you didn’t even see it coming, but here it is. Your spouse is a little… off. There’s a problem.
The difficulty is that you don’t know what the problem is. You’re not sure if you’ve done something wrong, neglected them, or maybe it’s something else. You’ve asked you spouse what’s wrong, and you don’t really get an answer, or at least one that makes sense.
This will happen sometimes in life, and in marriage. It’s important in difficult times like this to remember that sometimes you can’t fix it for your spouse. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it’s our job to fix our spouse.
We’ve talked before about how you can’t make anyone do anything. The same is somewhat true here. You can’t make someone better. We can’t always fix things.
But that’s ok.
Just be there
Your spouse may not need or want you to fix them or their problem. They may just want you to be there for them. You don’t even have to really understand what’s going on. That can be scary, but it’s true.
What you may not realize is that your presence is incredibly helpful. Hold them while they cry. Sit silently in the same room with them. Have conversations with them that don’t involve the problem. Bring them some food. Take a chore off their list. All these reminders that you’re present can make a big difference.
This is true even if it’s not a physical presence. Your spouse may want space and solitude. But they also want to know you’ll be there when they come back and re-engage.
When we say “to have and to hold in sickness and in health,” etc. we’re promising consistency. We told our spouse that whatever happens, we’ll still be there. And by “there” we don’t just mean in the same house. We mean in the marriage.
Be a team
Always try to remember that your spouse is never the enemy. You may be facing challenges, but you should be facing them together. Work together as a team to find a solution. Don’t fight your spouse when they’re fighting a battle.
Your spouse may lash out at you during a difficult time. Try to remember that it may not be anger that’s directed at you at all. It could just be their frustration, anger, depression, etc. spilling out onto you. That’s not ok for them to do, but try to extend grace.
Sometimes you can’t fix it for your spouse. But sometimes you can help them find the solution themselves. Just talking to them helps. If you feel them pushing back too hard, step back. But if asking open-ended questions seems to help them open up, go ahead.
Your outside perspective can give them glimpses that they can’t see on their own. On the other hand, you may not help them get anywhere. And that’s ok. Talking with them will let them know you care and you’re on their side.
It’s important to love your spouse the way they need to be loved. If you can help them solve their problem, great! But don’t push too hard to fix them because it’s difficult to see them suffer. Be there, be a team, talk. But remember that you can’t do everything.
Austin and Keelie have been sharing life together for nearly two decades. In that time they've gone from high school sweethearts to a family of five.
Austin loves making Keelie and the boys laugh whenever he can. Occasionally he writes things.