Confession: My husband and I attended a wedding where the bride refused to say, “or for poor” at the end of her wedding vows. The preacher tried to get her to repeat the whole phrase, “For richer or for poor” twice… she would drop the last half of the phrase every time!
I’m thankful I’ve stuck with my husband on the “or for poor” parts of our lives, just as he has stuck with me on the “in sickness” part of our lives. It would’ve been a lonely stretch if we skipped out on each other when times got tough.
For the record, we’ve been homeless more than once, tried to make ends meet in Oklahoma, Florida, and now Alaska. We’ve changed careers and jobs at least four times; from military, to Subway (making sandwiches), to the FAA, to selling cell phones, to now working in the medical field where he’s finally growing and doing great.
A godly man doesn’t need to be reminded about his responsibility to provide. It’s a constant, heavy burden over his shoulders. It’s his primary ministry and his God-given curse.
“And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.””
I didn’t learn this only from my husband, but also by having open conversations with other husbands when they shared how deeply work transitions and unemployment affected them.
It is excruciatingly painful for a godly man to be unable to provide for his family. I qualify this statement by emphasizing that this is how a godly man feels because any man who intentionally neglects his family is not in a relationship with his God and is spiritually blind. Whether or not your husband loves God is really up to you to know!
- Pray for your husband AND don’t nag at him. There are some needs that are meant for GOD to provide. And since you don’t really need to remind your husband of what needs to be provided for anyways, seek God for these burdens instead.
- Do NOT with-hold sex from your husband during difficult times. Contrary to pop culture bolony, sex is not just a physical need for your man; it heals his soul, and validates him deeply in a season where everything else is telling him “you’re not good enough.” And sex is not a reward tool, your husband is not a dog.
- Encourage your husband and appreciate all he does for you. It’s quite foolish to get angry at a man who’s spending a lot of time at work… because he’s working! And deep in his heart it brings him peace to know he’s providing- even if this comes with overtime, travel, or deployment. So thank him for the hard work, or the part time jobs, or the traveling, or the applications he has put in. He needs to know that it matters to you in a dog-eat-dog world.
- Live within your means! Don’t make the burden more difficult by desiring a lifestyle that is outside of his (or yours, if you both work) income. Learn the biblical key to contentment so he can truly find solace and rest at home.
I have learned to say, “I love going camping with you!” Instead of “I would love a Hawaiian vacation.” And, as any godly man would, Paul actually took me to Hawaii kid-free for a four day honeymoon (debt free too!). I have learned to not mind used furniture if it means we’re not adding an extra bill. And I have specially learned to serve him in our budget by asking him, “What bills should we focus on with this paycheck? How much do you want me to spend on groceries?” I have the better memory for when bills are due, but he’s a better mathematician.
These trials come to teach both husband and wife to rely on God and not only on themselves. Don’t despise the humble beginnings. Don’t fear the seasons of lack, because you both serve a God who knows all your needs.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.”
How can you encourage a struggling wife (or yourself) when finances are tight?