Guys like fixing things. It’s how we’re wired. I’m not one of those guys that can fix much. In fact,
I consider myself fairly dangerous with power tools. When something breaks around the house, I usually struggle with what to do to fix it. If it’s something you plug in, I’ve learned to turn the power off and then back on again. Nine times out of ten that solves the problem. If it doesn’t have a cord or a reset button, I’m usually in trouble.
Lindy and I closed our family business in May of 2009. Having our own business was a life-long dream that turned into a very bad nightmare. The Michigan economy was brutal, hours too long and the anxiety was exhausting. I finally realized (after many years) I couldn’t fix it. I knew it was slowly destroying me and my family. Throwing up the white flag was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It still haunts me; I just couldn’t fix it.
There’s a big reason that men struggle when their loved ones are diagnosed with cancer. They can’t fix it. I believe in the beginning it’s hard to put a finger on this. Guys right away go into the normal “fix-it” mode. This is a natural manly response, but one that soon backfires.
As a spouse, you can’t fix the cancer. But here’s what you can do:
Be present. Go to the appointments and be involved in treatment decisions. Keep your priorities in order. This is not the time to put work “first”.
Pray. Pray daily for healing and restoration for your spouse and strength to be a better husband. Pray together and alone.
Listen. Your spouse will need you to keep your mouth closed and ears open. Too often men speak before they think. Carefully choose your words.
Support. Provide daily support with the kids. Get someone to clean the house weekly.
Protect. Guard your spouse against over-activity or too many visitors coming by the house. She won’t have the energy to entertain.
Talk. You’ll need someone to talk to other than your spouse about your feelings. If you don’t have a friend that fits the bill, find a good counselor, clergy, or support group.
Cry. If you need to cry, it’s okay. I’d be worried if you weren’t.
Ask for help. Cancer treatments are incredibly difficult. If you need family or church support, ask for it. No man can do everything alone. If you need money to help with medical expenses – ask a close friend to help coordinate a fundraiser. This is not the time to be stressing about money.
Care for you. This is one of the hardest things to implement, but one of the most beneficial. You can’t care for anyone when you’re a wreck yourself. Find ways to get out of the house, exercise, or just drive. Whatever you do for stress relief, just do it.