Chivalry came from the most unlikely gentleman.
“Here, let me get that for you,” he offered. The blind teenager had enough vision to notice his teacher struggling to open the door. In one hand I held a heavy metal braille typewriter. The other held my bag of supplies and student files.
My student saw a problem and solved it. Like most males.
Men are wired to repair broken things. The reality is that some things can’t be fixed easily. Like a child’s mental illness (MI). Many fathers try to remedy the problem by explaining it away. Denying the diagnosis can only last so long.
How does that fit with a wife who has moved on in her grief to anger, bargaining, or depression? She needs emotional support from her spouse. When her mate is unable to provide what she needs, anger grows and bitterness can set in. Does that sound like your situation?
How can a husband care for his distraught wife if he’s not yet able to face the illness? If my blind student’s vision had been worse, he would have been unable to see my problem. He wouldn’t have come to my rescue.
What can a grief-stricken mother do when her husband can’t provide what she needs? Allow me to share what I’ve done. I don’t presume to have all the answers. I’m not a psychologist. Just a fellow mom who’s been through what you may be experiencing.
- Pray for God’s perspective of your husband. Imagine his need to fix the unfixable. That could only lead to helpless feelings. Think about his desire to protect his family members. Then contemplate what it would be like for him to realize he can’t protect your child from MI. Men love their tools. But no tool can reach inside your child to restore clarity of thought and joy. No gizmo can guard against turbulent emotions.
- Pray for your husband’s emotional healing. Look beyond your husband’s avoidance of the whole situation and see a grieving father. Any loving dad will surely feel sorrow. He won’t express it like a woman. But it’ll weigh like a concrete brick in the pit of his stomach. Perhaps your husband harbors guilt feelings. Ask God to move mightily in his heart and mind. So your husband can find forgiveness and peace from a loving Father.
- Ask God to provide what you need while your husband is grieving at his own pace. Through scripture He’ll speak words of healing you long to hear. Ask your Father to send a godly woman to support you. To cry with you, pray with you, and listen without judgment.
Let me encourage you. God hears your prayers. He heard mine. Howie has become attentive to my emotional needs regarding Chris. And he is gentle in his interactions with our son. God’s perfect peace has settled Howie’s heart. Yes, he’s sad. But Howie’s calm assurance comes from eyes lifted heavenward. He’s learned to let God carry the burden.
I told Howie this post would pertain to husbands raising kids with MI and asked him for any message he’d like to share. Here are his words of experience:
“It makes it easier when you realize there’s nothing you can do. It helped me when I realized it’s out of my hands. You still show love but you know you can’t fix it. That takes a long time to get to. Years.”
Howie hasn’t given up on Chris. He’s just given Chris over to God. Not given up…given over. When he seeks help for Chris, he doesn’t run to our tool shed; he goes to our prayer closet.
The centurion in Matthew faced an impossible situation with his suffering servant. As a man, he understood authority. So he pleaded with Jesus to heal the servant.
“‘Lord,’ he said, ‘my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Shall I come and heal him?’
“The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’”
“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith (Matthew 8:6-10).’”
What got Christ’s attention was his faith. Ask the Lord to increase your husband’s faith. To help him understand the power of the greatest Contractor of all. The Repairer of lives is accessible. Just a prayer away. When pipes are leaking a man gets a plumber. When wiring is frayed he hires an electrician. When his child is ill God can provide healing and comfort. Free of charge!
This devotional is so good!!! I read it the first time and only another mom with a mentally ill troubled child could address the male husband father issues!!
Will make this short but am facing yet another hard time with my situation. What else is new?? Keith is still drinking and Bud is angry all over again. I don’t blame him: I am not exactly happy over Keith’s behavior. But, in my family, I have been the unconditional parent and my husband the conditional. That makes for many problems. We try not to talk about it very much, which in and of itself makes it sad as we share everything else in our lives.
Yes, he canfix, build, repair , invent anything except his boy. His attitude is that he will not allow Keith’s choices to bring him down and will disengage from him. Only problem is, he watches gospel on tv (the Gaithers esp.) and I see tears running down his face and he says wish Keith would watch this. And he cries in church when something triggers him. So hard to see your man cry over his child and I feel so unhappy and joyless lately and this has gone on for so so many years.
Too much to write here, as you know, but we are coming to our 50th wedding anniversary this October. What a blessing! And, of course, I want Keith there. Please, could I ask for prayers for this celebration as he is not stopping me from trying to get Keith here but know he is very uneasy about it all as I am. The whole get together is an act of faith on my part due to family stuff!
I have had a very rough year so far and pray this celebration will be a joyous occasion.
Love what you have thought and prayed for for Howie and Chris. Love the last paragraph. So so true!!
Thank you Vicki. You blessed me with this so much.
Your sister in Christ,
It’s nice to hear from you. I’ve been praying for you and your family.
I can just imagine the heartache and helplessness you feel watching your husband cry. Been there. 😦
Hope it’s some comfort to know God can help Bud through his grief.
Congrats on your upcoming anniversary. 50th: Wow! What a testimony! I’ll absolutely pray. I’ve already put a note on my calendar. I’ll be praying that it will be a blessing and joyous occasion for ALL.
I’m grateful this message blessed you. We all need to know others understasnd what we’re going through and that there’s hope. Be encouraged, dear friend.
Resting in His peace and presence,
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