Anyone ever had to deal with a stressed out man in your life? Well if you have, you know it sucks. Because we know that men, as simple as they like to be, actually become really complicated when it comes to stress. And it can be so darn frustrating because that’s where we feel we can be a pro at helping and talking through it! But chances are if your man is stressed, he doesn’t like to talk about it much. So what’s a girl to do?
First of all, we need to realize that men don’t always stress out about the same things as women. Or if we are stressed about the same thing, we approach it differently than the man in our life would.
Secondly, take note of the signs of a stressed out man. Chances are he’s not going to come to you in tears wanting to talk about it.
Is your husband ( boyfriend, etc.)…
- Quiet… too quiet
- Starting to get “short” with you
- Never wanting to talk about work (or the thing you think might be stressing him)
- Getting set off by seemingly small things?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, your husband could be stressed!
Take a look at a few of these suggestions below and see if you can’t relieve some of the stress off your man.
Do more than you normally would
Gender roles aside, every household or relationship has generally accepted roles or responsibilities. In our house, I do laundry (kind of) and my husband mows the lawn. If you notice that your man is stressed out by something going on in his life, whether it’s a big decision to make, family problems, something at work, etc., try to take on a little bit more responsibility than you normally would. This doesn’t have to be a long term thing, in fact, it (in most cases probably) shouldn’t be. Stress shouldn’t be something that cripples your man long term, but if a little extra act of love helps to ease his burden, by all means, why not?! If I’m stressed at work, coming home to an immaculate home makes me feel so much better! It doesn’t fix the problem, but at least it doesn’t give me more problems!
Think of a chore or responsibility that your husband usually does and do it for him one week, let him know that you know he’s stressed and you just want to help!
Talk to him about how you care more about your relationship with him than you do about the things he can provide you.
Here’s a quote from one of the two books I’m so glad Josh and I read before we got married, For Men Only (I read For Women Only. Actually, I read both. I had to make sure what they were telling him was true. It was.)
“While most men think that a woman wants financial security, what she wants even more is emotional security. That is, she wants to feel close to you, to know that she’s your non-work-time priority, to know you’re committed to her, and to have you involved at home. And although she does want financial security, wants you to be fulfilled in your work, and appreciates your efforts to provide, she’d willingly endure financial struggles if that’s what it took to have more of you (such as if you wanted a lower paying, more family-friendly job).”
When I first read this, I was kind of boggled by the fact that my husband could possibly think that I care about him having a good paying job more than I care about being close and having time with him! In fact though, many men operate under the belief that their wives will be unhappy with them if they can’t give them a certain standard of life. But many women, myself included, would be totally cool with giving up some unnecessarily things in life to get a better, healthier relationship with a not-stressed-out man!
Be flexible about your lifestyle, be willing to make changes. Tell your husband that you are proud of him, but you care more about his happiness and your relationship than the money he brings in; let him know you’d be willing to make changes if it would mean a happier husband!
If he does talk, listen, listen, listen!
As a wife, mom, employee, blogger, etc. who has gotten used to a slight, constant, caffein jitter, my mind can run 1000 mph in every direction. When my husband does start talking about what’s stressing him out, for whatever reason, it’s usually in the car. Unfortunately, that’s when my mind is especially hyper-active. I’ll usually listen to what he says, give a short reply, and then ask him the unrelated question that brewing in my mind while he was talking. And then he gets quiet again and I realized I lost a precious moment when my husband wanted to open up to me.
Be observant of your husband. Take notice if he’s acting any of the ways I mentioned in my intro. If he is, watch out for when he opens up to you. Many men will be ok with talking to you about what stresses them, in their own time. And when that happens, listen.
Another important thing to make sure you DON’T do is freak out about the fact that your man is actually sharing his feelings with you. Play it cool, listen, empathize, and then maybe introduce some of the points previously mentioned.
Make your home a safe haven
This can mean many things to many families. Ever hear the quote, “Make him look forward to coming home”? I believe that is sooo important in many marriages! In 8 of The Worst Marriage Habits I talk about how important it is to be happy to see your guy when he comes home (or when you come home)!
Besides just being happy to greet your husband, make your home a generally happy place. Choose joy even when you’re exhausted, it will set an example to your husband to be positive and choose joy when he feels overwhelmed too. This isn’t to say you always need to have a smile on your face and never talk about your problems. By all means, be real and honest. But choosing joy and creating an open, loving home life will always be an option at your fingertips.
Always be open and honest, but also choose joy. Make your home a happy place to come home to and let your man know you’re happy to see him.
Ask questions, but do it in the right way
If you’re lucky, you might be with a guy who has NO PROBLEM opening up and telling you exactly what his worries and stressors are. If so, good for you. (Not sarcastic. With my awkwards sense of humor I usually have to specify. Sorry everyone).
But if your significant other is anything like mine, he’ll totally not want to talk about what’s bothering him. He’ll keep it inside. And then for some weird reason, not being able to find any matching socks becomes a really big deal and he’ll get totally put out over it (Or mayyybe something else is bothering him….)
Over time, I’ve learned that if I want to know what’s bothering my hubs, I can’t just ask. I need to pry. I’ve actually become really good at it. Here, I’ll teach you how to pry:
- Don’t ask: Why are you stressed?
- Instead, ask: So I know the year is coming to an end soon, does that mean work has been crazy for you?
^^aka, get sneaky with your questions^^
- Don’t ask: Why are you mad right now??
- Instead, ask: Is there anything I can do to help you right now or today?
- Don’t ask: Why does this bother you?
- Instead, say: I want to understand why this bothers you.
Encourage him to do something he finds fun
My husband is a man of many hats. One day I think he’s Johnny Cash, the next day I think he’s the nerdiest guy on earth. Just like mama needs her “me-time,” so does Josh. If I can tell he’s stressing out, I tell him to go play his guitar, or be a gaming nerd with his friends for the night. Just do something fun that reminds him of the simple pleasures in life and helps him to take a break from the stress.
Encourage your man to do something fun that maybe he hasn’t done in a while! Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be without you! I’ll bet you $10 bucks (ha, not really. That’s like two starbucks) that your guy would love to go out and do one of his favorite hobbies with you! Get him having fun and laughing and let him forget about his stress, even just for a little while.
Ok ladies, I’m really confident that if you follow some (or all of these tips), that you will be doing everything in your power to lighten the burden of stress he carries and remind him that you love him, and it’s going to be ok. That’s not to say that what he’s worrying about isn’t real. Men are usually pretty good at only worrying about the big stuff. But knowing that he’s not alone and that all the pressure doesn’t rest solely on him to fix it will be sure to bridge that gap of distance that stress can force into a relationship.
Let me know what helps your man get over a stressful day or more long-term problem? How do you show him that your home is a safe place to come home to? Leave your own ideas in the comments below and share with a girl in need of some pointers!