Support Me

Edric rarely has to ask me to support him. That’s a given. I do. I want to. But every once in a while I forget what it means to be emotionally supportive and encouraging.

Some days ago, Edric and I were talking about a decision he made that was uncharacteristic of him. I was very upset with him and also concerned that he was not using his time profitably. He had this streak of online computer gaming where I felt like he just lost it. Because he had not done this in a very long time, I wondered if he was okay spiritually.

Whenever Edric doesn’t seem okay spiritually it makes me feel insecure as a wife because I rely on his leadership for our family. (For the most part, he doesn’t give me anything to worry about.)

I ventured to ask, “How are you doing spiritually?”

He was laying on the bed, looking up at the ceiling with his hands behind his head, reflecting on the answer to my question. And then he started to open up to me about the stress in his life as of late, sharing a list of things that have filled up, what he called, his “frustration box.” I listened quietly while holding Catalina in my arms. Most of it had to do with work and our house building. Some of it seemed valid but some of it seemed like unnecessary sources of stress.

I thought I could “help” him get back on track. So I couldn’t wait to share my insights on what he was thinking and feeling. When an opening presented itself, I jumped right in and started going on and on about the kind of perspective he should have…the correct “spiritual” perspective. I didn’t really acknowledge his feelings. I just wanted to identify what he was doing wrong and how he could fix it. It must have been really annoying to listen to me.

I have done this before and it never turned out well.

Edric does not appreciate it when I tell him what he should feel and think. First, he already knows what he should be thinking and feeling. He allows himself to be vulnerable with me because I am his closest confidant. Second, I am not supposed to teach him. That’s the Holy Spirit’s role.

What Edric prefers from me is encouragement. He wants to be able to come away from a conversation with me feeling hopeful about the future. He needs me to cheer him on when he is disappointed with himself.

At a certain point he wanted to drop the conversation and move on because he wasn’t feeling any better. My mistake was I pursued the same approach further. I tried to tell him that he wasn’t listening to good advice from me, that perhaps his pride was getting in the way. I even said, “If you are not willing to listen to me, your wife, who knows you best, then how can you really improve?” There was a voice in me telling me to keep quiet and shut it but I just kept on yackity-yacking away.

Well we both ended up irritated with each other. I was quiet for a while until Edric told me very honestly, “I need you to support me.” He explained that during this instance, he would have appreciated a hug and positive words, not a reiteration of what he was doing wrong.

He even said, “It’s supposed to feel like a safe place when I open up to you.” Instead, he felt bullet-holed by all my statements. He felt like I thought less of him and interpreted his frustrations as weakness.

Of course I had to apologize. I felt terrible. Even if my intentions may have been right, my method was totally ineffective. I discouraged him when I was supposed to be a lifegiver along-side him. And I knew what the problem was. It was a personality difference. I grew up in a home where my father and mother were very much head-over-heart type of people. Therefore I turned out to be pretty much the same. When there is an issue, I want to get to the spiritual solution right away and move on. But if I am not careful, I can come across as unwilling to empathize with what Edric is going through and this hurts him. So I said, “I have to grow in the area of empathy, will you forgive me for not being more understanding?”

Edric is easy. When I admit that I need to change in an area that he would like me too, his heart softens and he becomes very sweet. First, he said sorry for the choices he had been making as of late. Next, he affirmed me by saying, “I want you to always remember three things about me.” (He wanted to tell me this because he knew this discussion’s precursor was my concern about him.)

I will always love you.
I will always take care of you.
I will always be willing to change.

Not long after I came across this passage in Proverbs…

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 12:25 NASB)

Sometimes I forget that Edric has a lot to carry on his shoulders. He has his ANC tapings, the homeschool program of TMA, numerous speaking and hosting activities, ministry and our house building to think about. I don’t always realize what it is like for him because he is so busy making sure I don’t have to feel any of his stress. All his hard work makes my life easy. So when the anxiety builds up, he needs my emotional support. He told me “if I can’t open up to you and be vulnerable with you, whom will I be that way with?”

As wives we need to remember that it’s our unique privilege to be encourager to our husbands, to support them with a good word when they need it and make their heart glad. Of all the people in the world, that good word of encouragement matters most from us.

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Comments

  1. I can relate very much. 🙂 Love you Joy! It’s a funny thing… mostly it is the guys who gets accused of not listening and just jumping into problem solving but i guess because we are thinkers ourselves, we can fall into the same trap. But thank God for His Holy Spirit and His faithfulness… He will complete the good work He started in us.

  2. Thank you for this post! I can super relate. It occurred to me that whenever I rant to the Lord, He does not take on this “well, this is what you should do, blahblahblah” tone and so neither should I when people come to me for encouragement. 🙂

  3. I love this post! Reading it, I felt like Edric said all the things that I want to tell my boyfriend every time I feel stressed and just need a hug and words of reassurance and encouragement, not practical solutions to whatever I was facing! I read all the time that men tend to be that way, that they like to fix things right away and be done with it, but for women, we know how to solve stuff on our own, and when we rant and say what we feel it is often because we want to be the receiving end of support. The roles were reversed in this post because I saw that guys feel this way too!

  4. Hi joy! your post is relevant not just with husbands and wives but also with mothers and daughters. i remember mom complaining that i play the role of a good listening daughter. thank you for your post. Ill take this to heart. truly a blessing 🙂

  5. Joy,
    This, I think, is more common than it seems in relationships – be it husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend, and everything in between. Sometimes what men need is support and affirmation (just like how women need someone to listen to them when they’re not ok). And that’s one big reason why men go out with other men at times – because they supposedly boost each other with affirmation and respect.
    Thanks for this entry – it’s a much-needed piece of nugget in my life.

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