Bearing the Lord


Help your spouse by being sensitive to the warning signs of stress and emotional overload.

Share each others troubles and problems. Galatians 6:2, NLT

Our tempers can often flare when we reach overload. But supporting our spouses by helping bear their burdens helps reduce tension in our lives, encourages mutual sharing, and magnifies feelings of love.

When our kids were very young, Teresa learned that I got over-stressed when I was put in situations where I had to referee conflicts between her and the children. She learned that she provided support in that area by seeking to talk to me about these things privately—away from the kids.

I learned that Teresa was vulnerable to stress over her eating and weight. I learned that I could provide her support in this area by helping her plan out meals, by eating more at home, and by occasionally joining her on her walks.

In our "preventative marriage work," we help couples develop strategies for handling the inevitable stress of marriage and family life. We do that by helping couples determine which things bring overwhelming stress to each partner. Then we discuss ways each person can help reduce the stress in his or her spouse's life.

When you feel the approach of marital conflict, it's a good idea to ask yourself, "Is my spouse reacting this way because he or she is feeling overwhelmed?" If that is the case, then address these feelings with understanding, empathy, and support. It is helpful in these situations to ask your spouse to communicate ways you can protect him or her from feelings of stress.

Another dimension of support is to have times of "escape." This means lovingly insisting on and then supporting your spouse's occasional "escape" into something fun and relaxing—for example, lunch with friends, reading a book, or window shopping.

Finally, couple prayer times are important. After talking to your spouse about an area of concern, hold hands and pray.

What are the signs of emotional overload your spouse shows during times of stress?

Father, sensitize me to my spouse's warning signs of overload. Bring me alongside to lovingly help.

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