We have all experienced uncertainty and change this year as we entered into an unprecedented time of pandemic. Whether you are facing unemployment, furlough, financial stress, illness, or the struggles of juggling a job while homeschooling your children, most of us can admit we’ve had times of anxiety or fear due to COVID-19. And your spouse may be experiencing that lack of peace as well.
When we sense that our spouse is stressed out or anxious, regardless of the situation, how can we bring them peace and comfort? Here are some suggestions we think will be helpful.
1. Pray for your spouse.
Our greatest weapon in the fight against a lack of peace is prayer and yet, it’s often the last thing we do. Instead of using prayer as a last resort, make prayer your first resort. As soon as you’re aware of your spouse’s stress, ask them if you can pray for them. If they say yes, hold hands and pray for them to have wisdom, guidance, and peace. Pray as the Holy Spirit leads you. If your spouse isn’t interested in praying with you, don’t let that stop you from praying for them.
2. Speak gently to your spouse.
When a husband or wife is restless or distressed, it can be easy to become annoyed or angry with them. We love the wisdom found in the Bible that says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare,” (Proverbs 15:1 NLT).
Have you ever been upset and then your spouse spoke to you in a calm, reassuring tone and you felt that stress immediately lift? With your words and tone of voice, you have the power to either bring calm to a situation or amp up the intensity and create more chaos.
3. Be sensitive to the pressure they are under.
When a spouse is under pressure or hurting you may naturally want to offer solutions to them. You want to fix their issue or pain when maybe your spouse just wants to be heard. One of Brad’s friends told him that in his marriage he and his wife have a signal they use when his wife needs to vent and doesn’t want her husband to solve her problem. The wife will hold up two fingers and make a “V” signaling that she just wants to vent. The husband doesn’t try to find a solution to the issue but instead listens patiently to his wife. When she’s finished, she feels better and understood. She has more peace and he met her needs.
Listening to your spouse involves giving your spouse your full attention. Remember to look them in the eye and ask questions if appropriate. When your spouse feels understood they will sense your care for them.
4. Be discerning about physical touch.
Some people love to be touched when they’re troubled. It calms and soothes them. Others recoil at the thought of being touched. They prefer to be left alone. If you’re uncertain about what your spouse would like, ask them. Say, “Would you like me to hold you right now?”
Your spouse may need some space to think and regroup. Give your spouse what they need, not what you desire. Gently holding their hand, or placing your hand on their knee or back can bring calm and reassurance they aren’t alone.
5. Don’t take your spouse’s emotions personally.
We all react differently when we’re under pressure. Remind yourself that your spouse is going through a lot right now and the emotions you are seeing aren’t about you. Reassure your spouse of your love for them and belief in them. Remind them that you are with them in this trial and God will see you through.
Encourage your spouse by telling them what you love about them and focus on their strengths. Since the world likes to tell us who we aren’t, you be the one to tell your spouse who they are.
6. Don’t hijack your spouse’s needs with your stress.
Have you ever watched a couple where one spouse poured out their pain only to have their situation “one-upped” by their mate? We’ve done this and we’re not proud of it.
When your spouse is going through a period of stress or uncertainty, this isn’t the time to become needy. Instead, be strong and focus on their situation until it stabilizes. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV) says, “Two are better than one…if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Focus on what they are going through. Empathize with them. Comfort them. Center their thoughts on Jesus. Help them to stand strong again.
7. Remember, God is great.
This is a truth you can bring to your spouse. In the Bible we see time and again how the Israelites looked at the giants they faced. It skewed their vision – and their faith. They became focused on their problems (giants) instead of God. When we do this, our problems become magnified which then increases our stress and lack of peace. But when we look to God we are reminded of his faithfulness, goodness, and greatness. God can do what appears impossible and hopeless. He can heal, he can provide a job, he can redeem what was lost, he can bring joy, he can provide an income, he can forgive, he can grant peace. He is GOD. Sharing this with your spouse will right-size the situation that’s robbing them of peace.
As you bring peace to your spouse, you will be ushering in hope to your marriage and home, and you will build your marriage.