Question: My husband has been in a bad mood a lot lately. I do not know how to respond to him; I try to ignore it and be cheerful but I find myself walking on egg shells at home. When I ask what’s wrong he either says, “Everything” or “Nothing”. This bugs me because I am tired too but I do not take my exhaustion out on everyone around me. I am worried this will rub off on the children’s attitude. What should I do?
It is always tricky trying to cope at home when our spouse is cranky.
That crankiness could be from any number of sources. It could be:
- work related
- family related
- physically related
- overall stress related
- feeling like a failure related
- aging related
- dashed dreams related
Finding out the origin doesn’t always mean solving the problem. But the question is, as a helpmate to our husbands, what is the best course of action for us, if any. One thing that is important to understand:
That is God’s job, and He actually doesn’t need our help! What He does call us to do is to be the best support and encouragement for our husbands that we can. This usually starts with us dealing with our frustration. Our frustration and anger over how tired WE might be and how WE are “sucking it up” when it comes to our own exhaustion.
I cannot help your husband deal with his crankiness and bad attitude. But I can help YOU focus in on your response, and how you can line your life up with the Spirit of God. I can help YOU respond in a God-honoring and Spirit-led manner. I can help YOU to walk in holiness, no matter how crotchety your husband might be.
Taking care of the log in our own eyes.
Did you know that, all things being equal, women survived concentration camps longer than men? Strange thing for me to bring up here, but I think it is a very important physical difference that God has established between the sexes. Women endure hardship and deprivation much better and with greater stamina than men.
Now, in the factories of past generations, when hours were lengthened to 12 per day, women had a much higher rate of accidents and injury (we do not handle hard labor well for longer periods of time). But when it comes to dealing with lack of food, lack of sleep and general deprivation, women survive better in those kinds of harsh environments. What does this tell you about the exhaustion that goes into parenting and life stress? It says that, while we may be just as tired as our husbands are from the non-stop juggling act of parenting, our husbands actually deal with their exhaustion less effectively than we can. Maybe we should consider this thought when we begin to get bugged at their crankiness when they get tired.
Please know I am NOT excusing bad attitudes or lack of self-control in responses to others.
I am not saying it’s OK for your husband to be a grouch and take it out on you (or the children). But sometimes our response to THEIR bad attitude is to want the same liberty to be *bad* that our husbands might take, even knowing that we are not supposed to. So we get mad at them that they *get to* have rotten attitudes while we have to be cheerful and bear the brunt of their irritations.
Remember, we can trust God to deal with them for their rotten attitudes in His timing. But we do not have the luxury to fall into rotten attitudes on our own part.
Generally our rotten attitudes take the form of martyrdom!
Does anyone remember the old Rice Krispies Treat commercial where the mom was in the kitchen reading a book and listening to the radio while the Rice Krispies treats were hardening? She would toss some flour into her face, slump and come out of the kitchen with a plate of treats and a big sigh saying, “It is OK, I do not mind the bother!” Her family rallied around her with thanks and praise for her tremendous sacrifice of love for her family. She guilted them into giving her affirmation when, in fact, she did very little, and had a great time in the kitchen while she was at it.
We do this SOOO often!
Guilt, manipulation and the martyr syndrome are some of the key weapons used in our marriages to keep, in our minds anyway, the playing field even. We want to make sure that our husbands do not get off Scott free with their struggles while we have struggles of our own.
The problem is that we are NOT on a battle field with our husbands.
In fact, we are on the same side and should be supporting one another, not trying to One Up each other. So, our first step is to get our own resentful hearts under control. We need to accept that this is not going to be a time when our husbands are going to be able to support and strengthen us (we might not even be in a position where we need strengthening or support). This is going to be a time where we need to “consider one another’s needs as more important than our own.” So, in reality, how do we learn to encourage a husband who is struggling with a bad mood?