Your man leaves late to go into work and then comes home early. He barely provides enough income to make ends meet. He’s having a bang-up time lying on the couch while you’re working yourself to the bone all the while you’re fretting about money hoping he’d get up off his can.
Have any of these thoughts crossed your mind about your man? If so, know that you’re not alone!
One wife wrote in feeling the exact same way. Here’s her story…
My husband works for himself and often procrastinates with getting to work at a reasonable time and he often comes home early. Sometimes he decides he doesn’t feel like going at all so he just doesn’t. We have 7 children and we have never owned our own home. We have so many needs. How do I deal with this frustration. He gets very defensive if I say anything. I am a stay at home homeschool mum and I’m expecting number 8 this year. What would you do if you were me?
JOLENE: Today we have a letter from a mom and wife – this is what she has to say: “Dear Jolene, I am frustrated with my husband in a lot of ways, but I need help firstly in one way: My husband works for himself and often procrastinates with getting to work at a reasonable time and he often comes home early. Sometimes, he decides he doesn’t feel like going at all, so he just doesn’t. We have seven children and we have never owned our own home; we have so many needs. How do I deal with the frustration? He gets very defensive if I say anything. I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mom and I’m expecting child #8 this year. What would you do if you were me?”
ERIC: Wow, eight kids!
JOLENE: Yeah, I can’t even imagine that. I could imagine my husband being self-employed!
ERIC: But, you know, we say eight kids would be hard for us, but some gals just have the heart to being that mom and loving those kids. There’s nothing wrong with that, just seems like a lot of faces to keep track of! (Laughs)
JOLENE: Right. I could imagine her being extremely frustrated because she has a lot to manage, has a lot to train – there is a lot on her plate with just the basic necessities: feeding them, bathing them, training them. That right there is obviously a full-time job… and then some! So we look at the husband…
ERIC: And she’s frustrated because he doesn’t have the same sense of urgency about his work or about bringing in money as much as she does.
JOLENE: Right, right. And whether you have one kid or eight kids, this is a common thing amongst wives.
ERIC: Well, I imagine feeding eight kids costs more than just feeding one. Obviously.
JOLENE: Yes! So there is that sense of ‘step up to the plate, husband! I need you to get moving!’
ERIC: First of all, since we’re talking to the wife, she’s the one who wrote in, we have a guy that she wants to help motivate. She doesn’t know how to do that and she’s not feeling very good about it. Obviously, if I was speaking to the husband, I’d kick him in the rear and say, ‘get on the ball! Go out and make some money for your family, provide for your family.’ Hopefully, he’s at least providing. They haven’t owned a home – and by the way, there’s nothing in the Bible that says you have to own a home. I know that’s the American dream, I understand that. But ultimately, some people may not own a home.
JOLENE: Abraham had a tent.
ERIC: (Laughs) right, absolutely. And Jesus didn’t have a place to lay his head! I understand that provides some sense of security and control, but let’s talk about this husband that may not be doing enough. By the way, since I can’t speak to him, there’s nothing we can say to the husband right now, because he’s not the one asking the question.
JOLENE: Nor would he! (Laughs) He probably wouldn’t ask the question.
ERIC: He’s happy how things are. Sounds like he’s self-employed, he goes in late, sometimes doesn’t even go in at all, comes back early – at least he comes back rather than going to the bar or some place like that. So, I’m going to turn this over to you, what do you do with a guy like that? Because he doesn’t have a lot of motivation; I’ve been self-employed since I was eighteen, but there’s been times that I haven’t been self-motivated. So what do you do?
JOLENE: Well, the spirit-filled wife – and I’m both…
ERIC: What’s ‘both’?
JOLENE: The other is the flesh-filled wife. There are moments, after days or weeks, if I don’t do a heart-check, I become the flesh-filled wife and I’m examining you in the flesh. My flesh tendencies would say, ‘I’m not fixing him dinner and I’m not getting out of bed. And I’ll let all eight kids run around wild!’ And I would do it on a day that he decides to stay home. Basically I would just decide to take the day off.
ERIC: Don’t even dress ‘em, just let them run around the house naked (laughs).
JOLENE: That’s what my flesh would say! I’m certainly not advocating this, but that’s just the realness of your Marriage Mentor (laughs). That’s just how I would view things! I could be bitter, or I could just be like ‘it is what it is – I just don’t have the motivation to have the responsibility to take care of them.’ You’d probably look at me thinking what the matter was and why they were all running around and I’d answer saying that I lost the motivation to take care of them today! But that’s the flesh side. The spirit side says, ‘Jolene, pull up your bootstraps and work unto the Lord.’ This is my responsibility; they’re my children – not to say they’re not yours, but I know my role. My role is to be in the home, take care of the home, provide the meals, and bring the training. But that’s not to say when you’re home in the evening that you don’t take care of the kids.
ERIC: But obviously, she’s got eight kids, so she is pulling up her bootstraps; otherwise there would be chaos. I’m sure she’s overwhlemed; she’s doing her job. Can she do anything about this? Can she motivate him? Can she inspire him? Can she influence him? What can she do?
JOLENE: She said in her email that if she tries to talk to him about it, he gets defensive. That tells me that he’s either running from his responsibility or he doesn’t know how to have the two of them come together and move forward as a one-flesh unit to create a budget. Being self-employed you don’t always know what your income is going to be that month.
ERIC: Very hard to set a budget when you’re self-employed.
JOLENE: Right. Sometimes what I would say to you, especially when there’s some insecurities from past issues, we try and come together and say ‘hey, I want to talk to you, but this is in no way a criticism; I want you in no way to get defensive, I want you to hear my heart.’ I think that has helped you to hear me more, but I don’t know the state of this gal’s marriage.
ERIC: Let’s look at this way: He feels defensive because he feels like he’s being attacked. Maybe he’s not being attacked, but she doesn’t have the relationship with him where she can say ‘you do a great job for us, but do you want to grow this business? What do you want to do? How can I help you? How can I encourage you?’ Coming beside him rather than coming against him. And I know she probably feels she needs to come against him because he needs a kick in the rear!
JOLENE: For me, there’s times when I could come at you and admonish you, but that’s not the first path.
ERIC: Right! And that’s based on our relationship too. If we’re tight in our relationship, then you can be very bold and say ‘hey, why are you doing this?!’ And I could probably say, ‘I don’t know! That’s a good question!’ Because I know that you’re with me. But there’s other times when you could ask me the same question and I’d say, ‘ hey, shut up!’ (laughs)
JOLENE: They key is, do you safely trust in me? The key for this man is that he’s not trusting in her.
ERIC: She’s got to go there first; she’s got to build that trust first and help him realize that she’s on his side, that they’re oneflesh.
JOLENE: How many times in our marriage do you hear me say, “I’m for you; I’m on your side”?
ERIC: You say it either verbally or non-verbally on a daily basis.
JOLENE: Did you catch that, wifey? This is an ongoing thing; Eric and I have been married eighteen years. It’s an ongoing thing that we try and instill in each other. It’s easy to get complacent in your relationship; it’s easy to take each other for granted and it’s easy to assume the worst.
ERIC: I hear at least once a week from you “It’s great being married to you”. Now, that’s a wonderful thought, sometimes I look at myself and don’t see how it’s great being married to me, but you build me up and encourage me. You let me know that you’re on my side, that you’re my gal.
JOLENE: So what this wife could do in this situation is build the trust. If the husband safely trusts in her, he’s going to allow her to influence him. If you were with a girl friend, how would you build trust? Would you come at her and say ‘that outfit looks like garbage on you!’ Of course you’re not going to do that! You’re not going to say those things. Let’s look at it with the man; it’s very easy to look at the problem in the marriage, but many times I want to encourage the wives: Don’t be so consumed with the problem, look at the long term. What type of relationship do you want to have?
ERIC: Right, you can’t approach him and say ‘you’re not doing a good job’. The only way people can say that is if they’re in the army and they have no say over what the sergeant tells them and they’ve relinquished all control. Then they’ll break you down and build you back up, but that is not a marriage. You cannot do that in a marriage.
JOLENE: You’ve got to build up your guy when he does go off and he’s gone during those hours when you think he should or shouldn’t be gone. You just have to be like ‘thanks for working hard today’ even if he only worked two hours. He might be looking at you feeling a little bit convicted–
ERIC: –Just make sure it doesn’t sound sarcastic.
JOLENE: Yes, you don’t want to take that path. Eric might fix something in the house and I might be so busy with dinner, ministry, the boys, or whatever and he’ll say, ‘hey, did you know that I fixed this?’ We point out to each other ways that we’re serving one another. One of the things that might help is saying, ‘Hey Love, I made your favorite meal’. I would make his favorite meal on the day he didn’t work hard! You’re heaping coals of kindness on his head and showing him that you’re invested in him. You’re saying that you want what’s best for you both. Then, as you build that trust, he might be a little bit open to hear you share your fear. Not your frustrations – because it’s a fear. ‘I have this fear – we’ve got baby #8 coming along and I’m afraid that we won’t have the income to pay for the rent, food, diapers, etc…’ As opposed to going to him and saying, ‘I’m frustrated that you’re so lazy and we rent our home.’ You’re not going to build trust there. He’s going to feel worthless about himself and is going to wonder why to even bother being a better husband for this woman who always thinks that he’s bad at everything. You’ve got to be his biggest cheerleader!
ERIC: Because no one else is. No one else is telling him that he’s doing a great job.
JOLENE: He’s dealing with seven kids, almost eight, right now, there’s got to be a certain amount of mental and emotional weight there. There’s a responsibility there. You have to look at each other and assume the best – which is one of the things I would try and tell you to do. ‘I am on your side and I will try and assume the best’ – does your husband think that? That’s the question. If he doesn’t, then be the one who builds that in him.
ERIC: Right, and there’s many ways to do that. We’re not going to go into that right now, but there are many ways for him to feel like you are on his side.
JOLENE: Yeah. So, I would build the trust. Go back to the mindset you had when you were dating, you thought very highly of him. He probably doesn’t think that you feel that way anymore. The other thing that I would do, as a wife when I’m not in my flesh-filled state, when I’m pursuing the things of the Lord, I’d go back to Colossians 3:23-25, “Work willingly at whatever you do as though you are working for the Lord, rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward and that the master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, then you will be paid back for the wrong you have done for God has no favorites.”
I stand before the Lord at the end of my life. Eric won’t be standing there with me and I won’t be standing there with Eric. It’s me and the Lord and what I’ve done. That helps me to keep my eyes on me and not be examining you, Eric… Those are my thoughts.
ERIC: Great thoughts!
JOLENE: I’m Jolene Engle, here with my husband Eric, and we will see you next time.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites. Col. 3:23-25
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