Need some advice on emotionally supporting my wife

Discussion in 'Marriage and Relationships' started by OnDistantShores, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. Hi, I could use some advice.

    I have been married to my wife for almost 11 years. We were married when we were 21, so both 32 now. No kids yet (which is part of the problem - more on that later).

    I married my opposite, personality-wise. I know that personalities are all unique and very complex, but to put things very broadly for context, I'm highly logical and she's highly emotional. ISTJ and ENFP, for those who care.

    This has caused a lot of issues over the years, and we have in the past gone through waves - sometimes things going well and understanding each other, sometimes really struggling to communicate. I have felt for a while that we have matured beyond some of these problems though, as there seems to be less & less instances of misunderstandings and her having big eruptions of emotions & frustration.

    However it's back again with a vengeance, and I'm starting to wonder if I need to dig in some more to get better at understanding how to support her, and more importantly, exactly how to do that.

    We've had lots of problems with fertility. We have been keen for kids for about 4 years, but she has had a lot of health issues. She hasn't been working while she focuses on her health. This has been a huge struggle for her and the further it goes on, the more it intensifies.

    Recently she has been confessed to feeling completely alone, like I don't support her at all emotionally, that she can't talk to me about all these issues, like we're on different pages. She feels like her "love bucket" is empty and just feels angry.

    I would appreciate any general advice, but the specific advice is would ask for is this - how exactly can I make her feel less alone, and more emotionally supported? Perhaps for many this will be obvious, but it's not something I am very good at, or even really understand. I joke that I'm a robot, but it often isn't that far from the truth - I don't really "feel" much in general, emotions just confuse me, and "offering emotional support" just sounds like meaningless airy-fairy nothingness. It's not something I can relate to needing in the slightest. I thought that over time I'd got better at doing it naturally, because we've been having this kind of issue less & less (it was terrible in the first few years of marriage), but now coming up again and much stronger than before, maybe that's not true. So how do I actually do this? Practically, how do you make someone feel less alone, and more emotionally supported? What are the nuts & bolts of how that looks?

    Are there any husbands out there who can relate? How did you work through this? What resources came in handy? Are there any links you can share? I haven't been able to find anything useful in my searching.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. @OnDistantShores - First, welcome to Christian Forum Site! I wouldn't say that I'm in a similar boat, but both my wife and I are quite logical, however, she gets much more emotional than I do when it comes to certain subjects. I was a nonbeliever the first 5 years of our marriage and was subsequently saved. My wife is still a nonbeliever, so I'm sure you can imagine some of the conversations we have; they're definitely not all a walk in the park. The situation you laid out can be quite complicated so let me ask you a couple questions:
    1. When your wife says you're not emotionally supporting her, what does that mean and what does that look like to her?
    2. What specifically is she wanting you to do to meet her emotional needs? E.g. being a good listener, being a shoulder to cry on, asking her about her day, probing into why she may be upset, etc.
    3. Did her state of emotions come back suddenly or did it slowly build back up over time?
    4. Is she a believer/saved in Christ Jesus?
    5. Do you think her health issues and not yet conceiving a child could be the root cause of her heightened emotions?
    6. Have you both talked to God about this situation?
    I'm sure others will jump in with questions of their own, but I thought these may be good to get started.
     
  3. Brother as you already know, women think a lot differently than men do. Men are more "logical" and we always want have answers to problems as they come up. Women are more "emotionally" driven (I am no authority on women) to where most of the time they are not looking for answers, but for someone to transfer what they are feeling so that they too feel the same thing. This is why women get along real good with other women because they understand the importance of sharing feelings back, and forth. As a man we just don't get that type of communication. After 34 years of marriage I have learned, (sometimes the hard way), that my wife wants me to listen to her, hold her and feel what she is feeling. Maybe more listening, and less problem solving might help you much.
     
    Siloam likes this.
  4. A lot of this is very familiar.

    As CCW95A stated, this is a very common.

    When my wife and I have a decision to make, from very insignificant to extremely critical, She and I like to approach it from the opposite sides. I was a computer programmer, and I tend to set up methodological approaches. I often want to list the possibilities, points for and against, and start eliminating the bad ones, and narrow it down to a single preferred decision. She will concentrate on the reasons surrounding her thoughts, and hates to state a clear resolution. She will go back and re-visit options that I thought were rejected, even after I thought an agreement was reached. It's very difficult for me, and I confess that I sometimes get frustrated. I want to reach a conclusion and get on with it. It takes patience.

    There is no specific formula that works for all relationships.

    You, personally, and as a couple need to develop a set of strategies to cope with each other, and to achieve a real partnership. You said that this happens in waves. Look back to the times that things worked well, and the times where the stresses overwhelmed one or both of you. See if you can find things in common when things worked, that were not as true when there were relationship problems.

    Prayerfully take this to the Lord, as a couple, and individually. You love each other. Rely on that.

    My guess is that you need to patiently listen to her, and to give voice to your thoughts so that she knows you care about what she thinks, and trust her with what you think.

    Giving emotional support is not "airy-fairy nothingness". If you have a concern, let's say you are having trouble with someone at work, and it was causing you to spend time worrying over it or interfering with doing your job, you may need someone to voice your feelings to (yes you have them). Someone that will be sympathetic and you and let you hear your own description of the problem. Talking it out with someone you know loves you may help you cope with the situation, or even see how you can effect positive changes. That is an example of emotional support. She needs it as well as you may. No problem is insignificant if it is causing worry or unhappiness.

    She, also may need to understand how you are and be patient with your hesitation to share, or understand that a single sentence stating your views simply may equate to a detailed emotional outpouring on her part. Talk to her about this so she can recognize when you have communicated, even if it is more succinct than she would say it.

    In the end, you need to come together under the Lord, and be mutually satisfied with your relationship.
     
  5. Thanks all for your thoughts!

    Brian, maybe I haven't been quite clear enough about the advice I'm looking for. Your questions 1 & 2 about "what does that look like and what does it mean to her" - that's exactly the question I'm trying to get advice for! I don't know! She says she doesn't want to tell me exactly what she needs, otherwise I'm just following orders and it won't feel genuine to her. So I'm trying to understand what "emotionally support" really means, but I have no idea and I'm looking for some help to try and work it out!

    I think her state of emotions has been building over time, but is always worse when we find news of another couple we know being pregnant, it just hits home for her really hard yet again. There was another instance of this recently, so I'm sure that didn't help.

    Yes, she is a Christian. We've prayed a lot about it, both together & separately. Not as much recently since she's been feeling this way more strongly.

    I'm not sure what the root cause is, although I think it's pretty safe to assume that it's a combination of a number of factors.

    CCW95A, agree with your comments. This is something we've worked on in the past. I think the problem is kind of the opposite to this though. I don't want to give solutions, because I know that's not helpful. But I don't know exactly what to do to help her "transfer" these feelings, how to "feel what she is feeling" - this isn't something that I can really understand. In the past it's been sufficient to not give answers, but maybe I've gone too far and now not giving much of anything, and it's led to her feeling unsupported.

    Siloam, that's good advice for when we both have the energy to sit back together and look at the relationship and both work on how we can meet halfway, to a place where we both feel understood. Problem at the moment is that she is so emotionally drained, she feels like she has nothing to give to do that hard work from her side. That's why I'm looking for advice on what I can do from my side to help. But completely agree that this is the right way to help work on a resolution when we are both in a good place.

    I'm not saying that emotionally support is "airy-fairy nothingness", I'm just saying that's how it seems to me. I know it's important for normal people, and that's why I'm trying to understand how it works and how I can give it to my wife. I actually don't really relate to wanting to talk to someone to share my feelings with. It's not something I've ever felt a need for. If I have a problem and want help with a solution, then I ask for advice, but not support. That's why I'm saying that I need help with this. You say things about how this helps someone "cope with the situation" - I'd love to know more about what makes you feel this way.

    Seems a lot of the thoughts are congregating around active listening and what exactly I can say when she wants to talk. This is something I clearly need to work on. Is there anyone who has struggled with this that has found any helpful resources?

    Also, anything other than active listening that you think can help?

    Thanks again, and looking forward to your responses!

    P.S. I'm a programmer too, ha!
     
  6. Hi, I could use some advice.

    I have been married to my wife for almost 11 years. We were married when we were 21, so both 32 now. No kids yet (which is part of the problem - more on that later).

    I married my opposite, personality-wise. I know that personalities are all unique and very complex, but to put things very broadly for context, I'm highly logical and she's highly emotional. ISTJ and ENFP, for those who care.

    This has caused a lot of issues over the years, and we have in the past gone through waves - sometimes things going well and understanding each other, sometimes really struggling to communicate. I have felt for a while that we have matured beyond some of these problems though, as there seems to be less & less instances of misunderstandings and her having big eruptions of emotions & frustration.

    However it's back again with a vengeance, and I'm starting to wonder if I need to dig in some more to get better at understanding how to support her, and more importantly, exactly how to do that.

    We've had lots of problems with fertility. We have been keen for kids for about 4 years, but she has had a lot of health issues. She hasn't been working while she focuses on her health. This has been a huge struggle for her and the further it goes on, the more it intensifies.

    Recently she has been confessed to feeling completely alone, like I don't support her at all emotionally, that she can't talk to me about all these issues, like we're on different pages. She feels like her "love bucket" is empty and just feels angry.

    I would appreciate any general advice, but the specific advice is would ask for is this - how exactly can I make her feel less alone, and more emotionally supported? Perhaps for many this will be obvious, but it's not something I am very good at, or even really understand. I joke that I'm a robot, but it often isn't that far from the truth - I don't really "feel" much in general, emotions just confuse me, and "offering emotional support" just sounds like meaningless airy-fairy nothingness. It's not something I can relate to needing in the slightest. I thought that over time I'd got better at doing it naturally, because we've been having this kind of issue less & less (it was terrible in the first few years of marriage), but now coming up again and much stronger than before, maybe that's not true. So how do I actually do this? Practically, how do you make someone feel less alone, and more emotionally supported? What are the nuts & bolts of how that looks?

    Are there any husbands out there who can relate? How did you work through this? What resources came in handy? Are there any links you can share? I haven't been able to find anything useful in my searching.

    Thanks in advance


    As i read your post, i was reminded of how the Lord has helped me (and this is for you to do, not her :)). I have to first set aside all of my "feelings" for they are not going to get me anywhere. Love is not a feeling, but a spiritual force. So when i don't feel like being nice...or i want to respond in a not nice way i have to shove the bit of the Word of God in my mouth. I speak what the Word says and not what i see, feel or hear. For example....she is being cranky..start thanking God for peace to wash over her. Cover her in intecessory prayer and wash her with the water of the word. Ask God for scriptures to pray over her and constantly confess words of healing and peace over her. Ask God to show you in His Word how to minister to her. It may take a few times but thanking God for what the Word says instead of what you see works, for His Word does not return unto Him void. The angels sent to minister to you and her respond only to faith filled Bible words.

    We will be praying for you and your wife. And will begin to thank God for blessing you with a baby

    Blessings of grace and peace be yours in abundance[/QUOTE]
     
    featherstonejane likes this.
  7. Thanks for the encouragement and prayers, Cturtle!
     
  8. Not a problem. You are the head of your household and when you pray in agreement with the Word of God...He answers. God will move heaven and earth for you two...if you stay patient and not give up :)

    Also give God the sacrific of praise any time when you feel like you just don't have anything to give let the Holy Spirit energize and give you the strength that you need.

    Blessings
     
  9. Exodus 23:26
    Deuteronomy 28:1-15 especially vs 4, 11
    Proverbs 4:20-23
    Isaiah 40:29-31, 41:10
    Ps 103: 1-5, 17-20
    Ps 112
    Romans 4:19-21
     

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