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How can I help?

I was recently asked by a loving wife to blog about the need for husbands to understand the importance of asking the question, "How can I help?" So, I've written this blog to reflect the comical and often true realities of husbands asking this question.

Marriage is in many ways an obstacle course you must learn to maneuver over time, particularly for husbands. Sometimes the more you learn, the more the course can change on you. One of those obstacles is represented by the question, "How can I help?"  On the surface this seems like an innocent question, but as you will see there is more than meets the eye on this one!

"How can I help?" We will begin with the simple translation, "I love you and would really like to ease some of the burden." It truly is life-giving for a husband to recognize when his wife is feeling overwhelmed and offer to ease the burden. I encourage this selfless approach as the standard operating procedure in all marriages; however, there's a catch. In most marriages "how" a husband might help is often a well known piece of information, or at least the wife thinks so. For instance, I know the answer to this question long before I ask my lovely wife, Amanda. It's very simple, the kids. Help with the kids. This means, if it's morning, help them get ready for school. If it's during the day, help with naps, picking up toys and keeping them from breaking things. If it's in the evening, help with baths, pj's, story time and bedtime. Granted, I'm a marriage guru, but it's easy to tell what she wants. Men, you really need to be careful asking how you might help since you should probably already know.

This brings up the inevitable question, "What if I really don't know?"  Well, that of course, could be the case from time to time. This unfortunate reality will likely lead to the helpful husband asking for some direction. Be careful guys! Asking for direction might come off as adding pressure and causing your wife to feel you are incompetent. This will only cause her to discount you as helpful and just do things herself. This only makes matters worse because your attempt to ease the burden only increased the burden and made her mad.

This scenario is fairly common, which leads to lots of tension. Due to increased tension, a husband may notice his wife stressed by the burdens of the day and instead of asking the question in a genuine and loving way he chooses a critical and sarcastic tone, "How can I help?!" This sends the clear message that he is not interested in helping at all. In fact, he is still hacked off because of the last time he asked he felt belittled and incompetent. This will usually get a spirited response from his wife. Needless to say, there is little helping going on.

So, as we wrap up this lesson in helpfulness, I will leave you with this advice I learned from a country song which should serve you well in this "Ridiculous Idea Called Marriage," a little less talk and a lot more action.

Posted by Kelly Langley at 7:00 AM
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