When my husband, Josh, and I were first married, he was working a job he didn’t like. His schedule changed every day, he spent up to eight hours a day driving and he often had to do hard manual labor in terrible weather. Our first year of marriage, he or I was away on business a total of six months.
The next two jobs, though better in schedule, were just as stressful. For most of our relationship Josh was in a stressful job that affected him when he came home. Chances are, your boyfriend or husband will have a job like this at some point in his career. Supporting him in those seasons is one of the best ways to bless him as his partner for life!
Following are five things that helped me in my own marriage when Josh was struggling through a stressful job.
1. Listen, don’t solve.
Most people give this advice to guys, the renowned problem solvers. But we women like to problem-solve, too. We hear about a stressful job situation—a nasty coworker, a bad review from a boss—and we immediately offer solutions to make it better. It’s done out of love, but our timing is usually off! Instead of giving advice right away, listen to the whole story. Ask questions. Identify with the stress by saying something like “That sounds really hard.”
2. Plan a fun outing.
Not all guys want to go out on the town after a stressful workday, and I’m not suggesting you do this every night. But sometimes, getting out of the house is exactly what he needs to relax. The first step is to actually go out the door! Plan a fun outing once a week to celebrate another week of diligence on his part. Josh is an introvert, so he didn’t often feel like going out, but once we got there, he enjoyed it.
3. Make his favorite treat.
This is a go-to for me when giving Josh a restful evening. Make a list of your guy’s favorite desserts and treats, and work down the list once a week or so. Josh loves when I make cowboy cookies, brownies or, our favorite, a chocolate chip cookie that uses three different kinds of sugar for the perfect texture. Having something small to look forward to at the end of a hard workday can be very refreshing.
4. Create a restful home environment.
This applies more to wives than to girlfriends. If your husband comes home from work to a house in chaos—stuff everywhere, dog barking, kids screaming (if you have them)—it can add to the stress. Now, he does need to accept these things as part of life at times, and you’re not responsible for his moods. But it will bless you both to create a home environment that is restful and welcoming. As a mom of two small children, I find the 5 o’clock hour is often the most hectic. That’s why I plan my meals for the week on Sundays, prep ingredients in advance to make dinner easy, and usually schedule a quiet time or short TV show for my toddler during that time. Sometimes I put on a playlist of songs that have significance to our relationship. This makes for a happy home when Josh walks in.
5. Identify his love language.
Lastly, try to identify your boyfriend or husband’s love language. By knowing how he best recognizes love, you can speak directly to that area of his life when he is most stressed. This will impact him more quickly than love shown in ways he doesn’t appreciate as much. Read this post on loving someone with a different love language, if you don’t share the same one.
Stressful job situations are hard and undesirable, but they are only a season. Support your man in this season as best you can and continue to pray for a change! In the meantime, your relationship will only become stronger.