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Episode 193 - When Your Husband is Struggling

Updated: Dec 31, 2023


Seeing your husband struggling can be one of the hardest things to deal with as a couple, and it's one that I hear about frequently from you all.

For one thing, if he's struggling, that usually means you're getting a lot less support (so it can be harder to access the empathy needed to stay connected).

In addition, it can feel like his challenge is directly against you--whether he's struggling to attend shiur or make it to work, is hooked on his device and not really showing up in "the real world," or any of the other number of outs people take when we need a coping mechanism and don't have a better option. The subconscious belief is, if he cared more, it wouldn't be happening.

But if we're able to step back and witness our partner, usually it's clear that what we see is nothing more than a good person having a very hard time. A person we want to support.

Sometimes difficult conversations are necessary--but when we are coming from a place of partnership and fierce support, that conversation can be one of the best things that ever happens to you as a couple.

One of my favorite questions to ask is, "what does support look like right now?"

Because while for us busy ladies, support usually means "help take the load off this very heavy plate," it might not be that for your husband. Support might look like trust or belief. Support might mean lining him up technically for success. Or support MIGHT mean "help take the load off"--offering to do the legwork to find the support he needs.

WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER IN THIS EPISODE:

  1. The main thing holding us back

  2. How can we be fiercely by their side?

  3. Don't support a man the way you would a woman

  4. How to support your husband

  5. Don't just try to fix it

  6. Take the long term perspective

FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:

  1. The issues addressed in this episode were coming up a lot in Ask Kayla, a feature of my monthly coaching program where you send in a question anonymously and I coach you on it. If you want to submit questions and get coached on anything from marriage to parenting to any other relationship, join the program in July for only $49. Guest coach Ilana Kendal will also be answering questions!

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<00:00:00> Kayla Levin: Okay, I had a different episode scheduled for this week. I even have it recorded, but I like this better. And I just had like four different questions come in in my community about husbands who are struggling. And I think it's so important that we talk about this,

<00:00:14> Kayla Levin: because we can support these guys and some of these guys are really having a hard time and just like we need support when we're going through a crisis or through a, sometimes we cause our own crises, right? So whether it's self-inflicted or not, as a community, as a podcast community, we have the power to be so deeply profoundly supportive of so many people.

<00:00:36> Kayla Levin: And so I really just feel like it's really important that we talk about this.

<00:00:40> The main thing holding us back ---

<00:00:40> Kayla Levin: So, The main thing that I'm seeing holding people back from being able to support their husbands is that they're seeing the husband's crisis as, uh, almost like he's off with his crisis. Instead of with you, he is off, you know, staying home from shiur.

<00:00:58> Kayla Levin: Or showing up late to work, or not applying for the job or smoking substances or drinking too much. He's off doing his thing and it's not with you. Now, I'm not talking about really heavy addiction here, um, because once a person's in really heavy addiction, there's a whole other, a whole other world that we're in, um, But there are a lot of people in the world who are somewhere in the middle, right?

<00:01:24> Kayla Levin: They're using something that's a softer substance or they're just zoning out on their phone, right? As a way of sort of like, it's almost like self-medicating. What do we know here? What do we know here? Is that if a person's doing that they're not doing well, they're struggling. And it's so understandable, especially if you're, you know, shocked and surprised because this is not what you thought you were signed up for.

<00:01:50> Kayla Levin: Or you have young children so you're exhausted and you really could use the help, and instead he's like on his phone. But I wanna make sure that those of you who are listening to this, that are, that are dealing with this, check in with yourself and what you know, because some of you know that your husband's actually like really struggling.

<00:02:10> Kayla Levin: And that's different than let's just, how do I get rid of my story about him being on his phone too much? Cuz like, I wish he didn't have it out when, you know, once in a while, while we're on a date and like he does, that's like, like not lower level thought work, but that's more like daily maintenance.

<00:02:23> Kayla Levin: And I think that sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to call out what we're experiencing. I'm married to a man who's struggling a lot right now. Okay, so then it's not like what it feels like is he's like choosing to use the phone or he's choosing to drink or he's choosing to do the thing, you know, and, and, and then that's like him choosing not to be connected and supportive of you.

<00:02:46> Kayla Levin: I think there's a way when we acknowledge how much he's struggling for us to just realize that this is probably the best solution he has available right now, that he knows how to use. Right. Obviously there's better solutions. That's what all of us are trying to do. Like so much of my work is just trying to just give you more tools in your tool belt to support yourself in a healthier way.

<00:03:12> Kayla Levin: But if you're starving and the only thing that's available is potato chips, you're gonna eat potato chips. If you don't know that you could make a salad. You don't have the ingredients for a salad. There's no time for a salad. You eat potato chips. Right? We do what we need to do to solve for what we are trying to solve for.

<00:03:25> Kayla Levin: So if we're struggling, we're in crisis. We're gonna take what's available. And I just wanna say that what's available, it's not a contradiction to you and it's not a rejection of you. And if you're able to remember, How good he is, how his essential self is so good. Which like when I ask you guys, you always will say like, oh my gosh, my husband's a great guy.

<00:03:50> Kayla Levin: Like he is, he's a good guy. He struggles with this. He struggles with this. He struggles with, but he is a good guy. That has to be 90% of the sentence. I'm married to a good guy. Side note, he struggles with X, Y, Z. Okay. And it could just even be his own anger that he's struggling with, right.

<00:04:11> How can we be fiercely by their side? ---

<00:04:11> Kayla Levin: How can we be fiercely by their side? How can we be fiercely supportive, fiercely there with him. One part of it is not thinking how you would be dealing with the issue, because if it was your issue, you don't first of all know how you'd be dealing with it. Second of all, he can't deal with it the way you would deal with it.

<00:04:30> Kayla Levin: He's not you, so it's so easy to dismiss, like. What, why don't you just do this instead? Like you could just exercise. If you're stressed out, that works for me. Why can't you do it? It's not so simple. If it was simple, he would do it. He really would. So that's number one. We don't wanna dismiss his coping mechanism.

<00:04:49> Kayla Levin: We also don't wanna dismiss the struggle in the first place because I'm sure that there have been times where something bothered you that would not have bothered him, right? So whatever he's struggling with, how can we just be there with him? How can we be fiercely by his side?

<00:05:09> Don't support a man the way you would a woman ---

<00:05:09> Kayla Levin: The other thing that I wanna say that is a little bit, maybe a little bit different is that the way women support women is not the way that men support men. And often as women, when we are trying to express how much we care about someone, what we wanna do is help. Cuz we're so sweet. Like we're so nice and we wanna help and I wanna lighten your load and I wanna help you.

<00:05:29> Kayla Levin: And that's what we want from him. We want help. Help is like the love language. It's the sign of support interconnectedness that boosts all our female hormones. So good for us that support network. So, so good for us. But a man's hormonal nature, a man's essential nature is most of the time much more independent.

<00:05:50> Kayla Levin: And what it means to be independent is to be, need to be able to trust in your decision making, to be able to trust in your yourself, to see yourself as full and capable. So if someone is shaky in their ability to trust themself, and then someone comes and offers buckets of help, it might actually exacerbate that self-image that he is fundamentally not strong enough to handle this.

<00:06:16> Kayla Levin: Does that make sense? Right. Like there's, there's that fine line between, I wanna help you and I don't think you can handle this. And even what the extra piece I'm adding is, even if my thought is you can totally handle this, but I love you, so I'm gonna help you anyway. Careful.

<00:06:32> Kayla Levin: Careful. Because it's translated differently into the male operating system than it would be for a woman. Okay, so what do we do then? Because you're struggling so much and I'm trying to be fiercely supportive and if I come and try and help him, he might see that. As me thinking he can't handle it, which is so not supportive and not what I wanna do.

<00:06:51> How to support your husband ---

<00:06:51> Kayla Levin: So here's what you do. So simple and magical. You're gonna ask him, what does support look like right now? I wanna support you. You're amazing. I see so much good in you. I see you. I see this is really looks challenging. Is it challenging? Do you want support? What would that look like? What do you want? And he might not want any, or he might want something very different than what you think he needs or should be asking for.

<00:07:27> Kayla Levin: Right.

<00:07:31> Kayla Levin: It's a really incredible thing and I, and I just wanna say, I'm sure there's people listening to this. I know there are people listening to this who've been married twice as long as I have, but I've been married now for 13 years. We have each had our crises, right? Sometimes at the same time.

<00:07:46> Kayla Levin: That's really fun. And when you can look back at that later and, and you were able to show up for each other in that time, very few things can build a marriage. I mean, my experience, very few things have built our marriage as much as that, as much as judgment aside. It's not you versus me. It's you and me against the world.

<00:08:15> Kayla Levin: I am here with you in all your stupidity in this bad idea, right? Like, don't say that, but that's it. If that's what we need to do right now, that's what you're doing right now. I'm here. There's no judgment. I am by your side. What do you need? Same team. It's always the same team. And if he's forgetting how fundamentally amazing he is.

<00:08:40> Kayla Levin: Just remember that needs to be 90% of what you're thinking. Cause nothing will support you more. Nothing will support him more. When we struggle to see it for ourselves, having someone else mirror that for us is tremendously powerful.

<00:08:55> Don't just try to fix it ---

<00:08:55> Kayla Levin: And the last thing I'm gonna share, I wouldn't have shared this except somebody I just saw that somebody wrote that this was a very helpful response that I shared with her is that when you know sometimes we also just have this like, I wanna fix it energy.

<00:09:08> Kayla Levin: And so what do we do with that? Because it's not that that fix it. Energy doesn't work here, right? We need to use that somewhere else. There's two places that you need to take your fix it energy that, that urgency to fix the problem to get to the next place. Okay? Number one is to daven. So good for dominating and having covana.

<00:09:32> Kayla Levin: Number two is to check with yourself. Because very often if there's something that you wish he was doing, there's a way that you can maybe up level for yourself. So let's say your husband doesn't go to minion and you just have all this energy. You just wanna say to him, you wanna like, maybe I should just like tell him he has to, or I should get a better alarm clock.

<00:09:54> Kayla Levin: Or like, I wanna all this fix it energy. I'm gonna take that, fix it energy. I'm gonna daven, first of all that my husband starts gonna minion. And second of all, I'm gonna make sure that I'm davening. Take all that energy and direct it into doing it because you know why? The reason you want it so badly in the first place is because it's a value to you, right?

<00:10:14> Kayla Levin: You want it to stop smoking cuz you care about health. Check in on your health. Now what you're doing is you're bringing the value into your home that you want. So it's not coming in through the route that you want it to come in through. Fair. But sometimes reality is we can't change everything. I'm sure by the time you get to this podcast episode, if you could have changed it by saying, oh, honey, by the way, I don't like smoking.

<00:10:32> Kayla Levin: And he was like, oh, gee, I didn't realize I'll quit. That would've happened already. We wouldn't be here on this episode. That wouldn't be the thing you're thinking about right now, right? The ones we struggle with are the ones where it's not so simple. So if it's not something you're able to control right now, or it's not something you're, you know, wanting, it's not worth it for you to create some kind of ultimatum, which 90% of the time it's not 99.9% of the time, it's not worth an ultimatum.

<00:10:58> Kayla Levin: We need to take that energy that wants to solutionize and fix it and control, and we wanna direct it to ourselves. How do I bring this value into my life and into my home? And use all that energy to uplevel for yourself. What's really magical here that I think, I don't know why this works. I always find that this gives my husband a boost.

<00:11:20> Kayla Levin: So maybe it's heebie gbi. Maybe there's something real to it. Maybe he just sees me doing the thing and then it sort of inspires. I don't know why it works, and I don't know if that's the best motivation, because if it doesn't work, you'll be disappointed. I think the best motivation is, oh look, it looks like I really care about do.

<00:11:34> Kayla Levin: Let me make sure I'm dominating. But I'll just let you know. Sometimes it just also helps move things along, so might be worth consider.

<00:11:42> Take the long term perspective ---

<00:11:42> Kayla Levin: All right, my friends, this is a big thing that I'm asking you to do. It's a challenging thing. It can be really challenging. I think the things, you know, um, it's not a simple thing.

<00:11:54> Kayla Levin: It's really not a simple thing. But we wanna think about our marriages in terms of decades, not in terms of years or months or days. And if we're thinking about decades, it's gonna be some harder times. You know? And how am I gonna wanna look back on that 20 years from now? How am I gonna wanna have been there for him?

<00:12:15> Kayla Levin: And, and knowing. That these lows, these struggles, these crises, they're part of a meaningful life of a life where we're doing things. So I hope that that gets the people who need to hear it, and I love you all, and I will see you back here next week.

<00:12:30> Kayla Levin: Hey there. If you know a newlywed or you are one, we have a wedding gift for you. Go to kaylalevin.com/newlywed to get access to my best selling course &quot;First Year Married&quot; you have got to be in your first six months, so make sure you don't wait. And if you've been married longer than that, but you're looking for some more support or this stuff is just super fun for you.

<00:12:50> Kayla Levin: I'd love to have you join me inside of my membership community, How To Glow. It's for women looking for a fresh take on relationship development. Join us for live coaching calls, signature classes, and anonymous q and a. Let's do it.

<00:13:06>

<00:13:08> Kayla Levin: ​

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