Do you feel like you do most of the work in your home? Does it seem like your spouse is more focused on Facebook, Pinterest, hunting/fishing/golf, ESPN, texting and talking on the phone, shopping on Amazon, or playing video games than pulling their “fair share” of the workload?
People handle their spouse’s laziness in a variety of ways:
- Bottling up their frustration in silence until they blow up
- Blaming and shaming
- Making threats if behavior doesn’t change
- Taking on the additional workload as a “sacrifice” and assuming a martyr complex
And none of those brings about the desired result, does it?
Throughout the pages of the Bible are warnings to those who are lazy or idle. In fact, in his letter to one of the churches the apostle Paul writes: “…we urge you to warn those who are lazy.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NLT) The context for his admonition is for church members who aren’t serving…but what are we to do in our marriage?
We have several suggestions for charting a new approach toward what you are perceiving in your spouse in a two-part post. Let’s start with the first six:
Often we resort to every other measure first and then, out of exasperation, we throw up our hands and shout out a prayer to God. Instead, take time to proactively bring your concerns to God first. Ask God to bless your spouse. Ask him to work on their heart—and yours. Ask him to give you insight and wisdom into your spouse’s nonactivity and how you can communicate best to your spouse.
2. Check your perspective—is it accurate?
Sometimes we get so fixated on something that bothers us that we can’t see anything else. In fact, our perspective can become so jaded that nearly everything we observe seems to legitimize our observations. We consciously and subconsciously build a case for them being lazy.
But it could be that we are misperceiving our spouse. Pray an honest prayer to God asking him to show you where your perspective may be wrong. Instead of looking for evidence to support your view of their laziness, look for areas where your spouse is productive. You may be surprised at what you see.
3. Check your personal standards
Are known as a perfectionist? If so, your spouse may have developed a feeling that they can’t please you and their efforts are never good enough. As a result, they quit trying because they have more peace not doing something than suffering from doing it wrong.
Are you an over-achiever? A type A personality? Your frustration could simply be a difference between your drive and energy that may not match your mate’s type B contentment with life and energy.
4. Avoid assumptions
Your assumptions and expectations may be based on your perspective of gender roles. It could be your desires of how your spouse should act are based on what happened in your home growing up. Or, you may be comparing your spouse to your friends’ spouses and then assume that that is how your spouse should behave.
But your spouse may be impacted by their own family of origin. They may be acting in the same pattern that they saw in their youth and childhood. Your spouse may not even be aware of any other way to act in marriage. They saw their mom/dad and extended family function in a certain way in their homes. Then through the years, it became ingrained as an accepted practice in marriage.
5. Consider physical and mental influences
It may be that your mate’s lack of energy or initiative is related to a physiological factor like low testosterone, iron deficiency, heart issues, or thyroid disease. We found a great article on fatigue that goes into greater depth that you can read here.
In addition to physiological influences, your spouse may be struggling emotionally. They could be wrestling with depression and not recognize it. Perhaps there’s a level of stress that they carry that burdens them toward inactivity.
6. Communicate your concerns
Once you’ve processed these things through prayer, ask your spouse when you could talk. Tell them that you need their insights and help. Be prepared for them to offer to talk right then. If they give you a different time, be respectful of that. Trust that God is giving you more time to pray for your spouse and the situation.
When you do talk with them, be careful not to blame your spouse or compare them with either your hard work or someone else’s “productive” spouse. Negativity will only create defensiveness and shut down communication.
Begin with what you appreciate about your spouse. Assure them that you love them. Then, let them know what you observe about their behavior and how you feel about it. You might say something like, “Help me understand why….” The initial conversation may be all that’s necessary to snap them into greater participation at home and life in general.
Our next post will provide some practical advice for initiating participation and help from your spouse. As you walk through this process in a God-honoring way we believe you will see God work in your heart and your spouse’s life as you build your marriage.