Man carrying boxes - how to help your spouse when they need it

Is Your Spouse Stressed Out? Five Ways to Help

Marriage Dynamics InstituteCommunication, Marriage Health

It’s vital in a marriage to help your spouse when they are overwhelmed—even if they don’t know how to ask for help.

You know when you pull into the garage and you’ve got a lot of groceries to carry inside? You don’t want to have to come back out, so you try to take everything to the house at once.

What usually happens? If you’re anything like us, it doesn’t always turn out well. In fact, it hardly ever does.

We never learn. Instead of taking thirty extra seconds to make the second trip, we end up spending an hour trying to clean raw egg out of the car’s upholstery.

Your spouse may be trying to do the same thing with some of the loads they’re carrying. If you are not there to step up and lend a helping hand, there is a chance they might drop something, Once that happens, the mess may not be pleasant to clean up.

Let’s look at a few areas where you can help your spouse when they are under a lot of stress.

Five Loads to Help Your Spouse Carry:

The emotional load.

If your spouse wears their feelings on their sleeve, this may be easy to spot. If not, though, you need to pay very close attention. They may be one of those folks who doesn’t even make noise or yell out in pain after something breaks—either them or what they’re carrying.

If you haven’t done so in a while, take time to sit down together for a few quiet minutes and ask how they are doing. Then, really listen as they share what is bothering them. It’s amazing how healing it can be just to have someone listen attentively and show that they care.

The physical load.

This load can consist of their daily responsibilities to keep the family running or to keep things maintained around the house or yard. Again, it all comes down to how observant you are. If you’re not intentional about staying aware of all they do before a crisis hits, you may be surprised to see how everyone in the family is affected when it does. If your spouse is going through a tough time, help them get these things done.

The spiritual load.

There may be no apparent way to help with this. Sometimes if the pressure they’re carrying is distributed a certain way for a specific reason, your help may cause things to topple. At times, all you can do is pray for them and encourage them from the sidelines. Be careful not to dismiss spiritual struggles or minimize them because you can’t relate. Suggest that your spouse find someone who can understand the things they’re trying to sort out with God.

The sexual load.

Helping to carry this weight usually falls into one of two categories. The first is asking for sex less often, or assuring your spouse it’s okay to do it less if that’s what they need at the moment. On the flip side, you may consider offering it more without your spouse having to ask. This giving attitude will go a long way to relieve a lot of the pressure your spouse may be feeling in other parts of their life. Either way, your efforts to empathize with them in this way might make a big difference in their stress level.

The financial load.

If your spouse is bringing up money a lot, and it’s not something you usually have to worry about (because money isn’t often an issue, or they handle everything financial), try to pay attention to their concerns and respond accordingly. If things seem tight, try to spend less. Ask them for specific ways you can help. They may be reluctant to ask that you cut back, because they love providing for you and will be hurt if they can’t. But money troubles are a huge load to carry alone. Talk openly about this with your spouse at regular intervals.

There are likely many other loads you can help your spouse carry, but these five are very common. Pay attention to what seems to be overwhelming them and lend a helping hand. It may not solve everything right away, but it will show your spouse that they are not alone. And that means a lot.

Find other great tips by downloading our free resource:
Foolproof Ways to Build Exceptional Love

It’s completely free, and may just take your marriage to a different place. Find other great resources, courses, and workshops at

About the Author

Marriage Dynamics Institute

Marriage Dynamics Institute (MDI) wants to cultivate healthy families, churches, and communities by helping create marriages full of joy, meaning, and purpose. Having served more than 75,000 couples since 1994, MDI offers workshops and seminars for marriages at every stage, including those in crisis.