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I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about this. Am I being a good helper to my husband? Am I anticipating his needs and acting accordingly? What I came to is this: many of the ways that I have learned to help my husband over the years have changed. The kids are grown and gone. Our schedule has changed and, in case you hadn’t realized it, we are in the pandemic greatly altered how we do church. But my husband still needs my help—now, more than ever. And as I replay this conversation over and over in my head, I realize that it is my job to figure out new ways to help him; to anticipate his needs before he even knows he has them.
In light of this, I decided to revisit my role and take a refresher class. Although the application in each of our lives is different, the principles remain the same. If you need some help being a helper, maybe start here.
Ask. This one seems obvious, but often is missed. My husband often needs help in ways that I don’t even know. Our expectations are different. We think differently, and our needs vary. The quickest and most direct way to help my hubby is to simply ask him what he needs. When the girls were little, I would often ask Rob before he left for the day, “What is one thing I can do for you today?” I was amazed at what he said. Very rarely, if ever did he say, clean the whole house, prepare a gourmet meal or decorate the couch with 20 pillows! Instead, it would be something simple like my shirt needs a button or we are out of hard-boiled eggs. Things that weren’t even on my radar until I asked. Helping starts with asking.
Anticipate. But sometimes his needs aren’t that obvious—to him or to me. That’s why it is so crucial that I be a student of my husband. To watch him carefully and figure out how I can help. Recently it has been to simply listen and observe. And for me, that means to listen with my whole being. To put down the phone, turn off the screens, make eye contact and hear his heart. I have also tried to understand the pressure of leading a church from afar and to come up with unique ways to help him stay connected with people in spite of social distancing. I may not always get it right, but I am trying to see new things I can do to help.
Act. Followed closely on the heels of anticipating is acting, doing what needs to be done. Serving my husband in love. This can mean a warm meal on the table after work, or watching his documentary rather than my Hallmark movie! It could be graciously giving him uninterrupted time on Saturday for message prep, or being the only one in the audience as he preaches to a camera. It can mean asking him questions about church or letting him rest and not talk about it. Knowing what to do, and actually doing it are different. I want to be quick to act and respond to whatever it is that my husband needs.
Affirm. Be his greatest fan! Words are my husband’s love language. They are not mine. I have had to grow in this area. Although I know in my heart how much Rob means to me, I need to tell him. He needs me to affirm him – to be his biggest cheerleader! To tell him how much I enjoyed his message as well as to remind him that I think he is very attractive. I adore my husband, but does he know it? Only if I encourage him and use my words to affirm him.
Admire. Similar to affirming is admiring or respecting. Ephesians 5:33 says, “let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Since this is our one big responsibility as wives, it must be one that God knew would be difficult. In a world that often demeans and vilifies men, I must always do all I can to respect my husband. This means listening without interrupting, not telling a joke at his expense, bragging on him in public as well as private, submitting to his leadership in our marriage and letting him know how much I appreciate all the work he does for me and our family.
Affection. Physical touch is so important! I always want to be there for Rob, to hold his hand, snuggle up close during a movie on the couch, and hug and kiss him after a long day at work. Some days this is easier than others, but if I am intentional, it is one of my greatest joys. To love and touch and encourage him well solidifies our intimacy and increases our joy.
Advocate. To be an advocate is to plead or intercede on behalf of another. I think that praying for my husband sometimes gets ignored or marginalized. But it is one of the best things I can do to help him. To ask God to bless him and keep him. To ask God to grow him in godliness and humility. To ask God to reveal to him where he needs to grow and to increase the fruit of his labor. God can do so much more for Rob than I ever can. And my prayers may be the catalyst. I need to daily get on my knees and call out to the Lord on his behalf.
As vacations end and Fall approaches, maybe you need to revisit the topic of helping. God designed a wife to be a helper for her husband. To make him better because of her aid. To be better together than apart. But helping doesn’t happen on its own. We need to work at it. I want to grow and learn and improve in this department. It is hard work, but it is worth it.