A lot has changed in the past two weeks. Not only has your church shifted services to a virtual platform, but your family most likely is in your space 100% of the time. Both situations bring inevitable stress on you, but these changes can also impact your family, especially your marriage. It's crucial during this time that you pay attention and love your family well. If, when the Pandemic is over, we lose those closest to us, then we lose. How can you protect and prevent that from happening? I believe one way is by loving your wife well.
Here are five tips to love your wife well during this stressful time:
Give grace. You aren't the only one experiencing a "new normal." Your wife may be in the whirlwind of homeschooling or learning to work from home, or still working in the healthcare field, where the stress level is amplified. Whatever the case, tension may be brewing. Remember, she is not your enemy; Satan is. You are on the same team. The enemy is using these unique circumstances to divide us during this crisis. Do not let him. Give your wife grace to learn this "new normal" and make mistakes. When tempers flare, forgive. When mistakes are made, forgive. Do things to make her laugh and relax with her.
Keep dating. During this "shelter at home," you may feel like you are spending time together, but being present and intentional with your time is different. Maybe you have felt distant from your spouse lately. Use this time to reconnect and relearn each other and grow closer, not apart. Be sure you are practicing these three T's: Time, Talk, and Touch. Look at her, talk deeply with her, hug her, and pray with her. These things will go along way to bring comfort during a difficult time. Some suggestions to brighten her day are fresh flowers, coffee from her favorite cafe, or dinner "out." You may be thinking this isn't a priority right now. But it is. It shows that you care and desire to put her first during this Pandemic. Use this time wisely to focus on your spouse.
Prioritize what she is insecure about. One of the most frustrating things for your wife can be if you ignore her concerns. All of us are watching the news, researching, and talking about ways we can protect our families from contracting Covid-19. If your wife feels like you aren't hearing her when she shares these concerns, then she will get frustrated. Just walking upstairs with your dirty shoes may send her over the edge. One way you can help her is by listening well to hear her insecurities and then prioritizing them. If she feels like she doesn't have enough groceries, then help her get groceries. If she needs help cleaning surfaces, packages, etc., then jump in happily. There are little things you can do to make her feel like you are a team, which will calm her insecurities during this time.
Don’t stay on your computer or phone. These devices are necessary tools to meet the needs of so many. Staff meetings, church services, Bible studies, etc. are getting your attention, and you may not realize that you need a break. Staying connected these days means having a device in your face. The downfall comes when we miss what's right in front of us—the dress-up time with your daughter, yardwork with your son, or cooking dinner with your wife. Block out certain times throughout the day to spend with your family. During those times, put your phone up so that you can be fully present. Don’t forget that your family is your flock too.
Don’t forget to celebrate. Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, stories of life change, and even small things. Pastors' wives have gone from your cheerleader to audio/visual expert in a week. Celebrate that! It's easy to say we will celebrate when this passes. I encourage you to make everything a celebration. Have fun and laugh together. It will go along way to not only survive this Pandemic but thrive.
Although busy looks different, time is a gift. We see that more clearly now than ever. Use it wisely. Supporting your wife through this time is a deposit in the bank of love.
This article was written by Melanie Ratcliffe. Melanie serves as an Evangelism Strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, focusing on Ministry Evangelism and Women's Ministry. To contact Melanie, email firstname.lastname@example.org.