The Depressed Homemaker’s Greatest Need

Recently I was speaking at a conference on Sadness and Happiness in the Christian Life. As always happens at any conference where I speak about depression, I heard some heart-rending stories of suffering. Although these stories differ in many ways, I began to notice a common factor in the stories these Christian women were telling me, especially women who were home-makers. They were all lacking in verbal affirmation and encouragement from their husbands.

Their husbands were godly Christian men, faithful, hard-working, providing financially, helping out with the kids, taking on domestic and spiritual responsibilities, and so on. They were not abusive and had never said a hard word to their wives. BUT, they very rarely, if ever, said anything positive or affirming to them.

One Source of Affirmation
I talked with Shona about this and she said, “This is so important. Homemakers have only one source of affirmation — their husbands. Most young kids don’t usually notice what we do and praise us. There are no colleagues or customers to express appreciation and admiration. Our husbands are our only source of encouragement and commendation.”

As I thought more about it, and felt more and more guilty about it myself, I realized just how many possible sources of encouragement most  men and women have who work outside the home. For example, I have my congregation, my students, blog readers, counselees, conferees, etc. Hardly a week goes by without someone expressing gratitude for something I’ve done in my ministry. But a homemaker has only one possible source of gratitude — her husband.

Magic Homemaking
And yet how many times have I come home and, lo and behold, there’s a meal on the table. Well, so there should be. Shirts magically enter the wash basket and just appear in the wardrobe. Rugs vaccum themselves, trash cans empty themselves, dishes wash themselves, bills pay themselves, accounts get accounted, babies change their own diapers, and so on.

What, they don’t?

Of course not, and yet how often we husbands just take it all for granted. How would we feel if that happened to us at work — every single day? We work, work, work, and the response is silence, silence, silence. It would be pretty depressing wouldn’t it?

Or, when was the last time we expressed appreciation for how our wives looked, even after a day of being run ragged by children? When was the last time we noticed with gratitude the development of Christian graces and character in them?

We are their only source of affirmation.

Theological Affirmation
“But,” someone will say, “Surely they should get their encouragement from the Lord? Why can’t they just rejoice in their salvation? Do they not know that they are accepted in Christ, no matter what?”

Yes, we want to bring them theological truth. Yes we want to point them to Christ and their justification. Yes, ultimately God’s opinion is the only one that matters.

But they’re also human. They need words of affirmation and appreciation from us too. That’s not human weakness; that’s basic humanity. We expect it in the workplace; our wives are right to expect it at home.

I’m not saying this is the panacea for all female depression; but I do wonder how many home-makers might have avoided depression if their husbands had been more affirming and encouraging? How many wives might be praising God if their husbands had praised them a bit more? How many mothers might yet avoid the pit of depression if their husbands could lift them up with even one compliment a day?

So here’s the challenge, men, regardless of whether your wife is depressed or not; and especially if she is. Make a huge daily effort to find as many reasons as you can to praise her. Take nothing for granted. Take nothing for nothing, but affirm, compliment, praise, and encourage her in every possible way. It might work better than Prozac.


Check Out

Blogs

The Jewish Intellectual Who Predicted America’s Social Collapse | Bruce Ashford, TGC
“The great American sociologist Philip Rieff (1922-2006) stands as one of the 20th century’s keenest intellectuals and cultural commentators. His work was stunning in its intellectual breadth and depth. Rieff did sociology on a grand scale-sociology as prophecy-diagnosing the ills of Western society and offering a prognosis and prescription for the future. Although he wasn’t a Christian, his work remains one of the greatest gifts-even if a complicated and challenging one-to Christians living today. ”

How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions | Christina Fox
“…But the Psalms do more than just mirror our own heartaches. They aren’t simply there to provide catharsis or help us know that we aren’t the only ones who have suffered.I n fact, there is much more that we can learn from the Psalms, especially the Psalms of Lament, those dark, sad, and emotion laden Psalms many of us turn to when life is hard and the future seems dark and bleak.”

5 Reasons You Need the Westminster Shorter Catechism | Andrew Conway, TGC
Five reasons why the Shorter Catechism is worth engaging.

A Note to Ph.D. Students: Here’s What We Are Really Looking for in a Job Interview | Michael J. Kruger, Canon Fodder
We’ve just gone through this hiring process for our new PhD program at PRTS. This is great advice.

Responding to the Moral Whiplash | Erik Raymond, TGC
“As Christians we wake up, read the news, and yet again get whiplash. ‘What in the world is going on?’ And more importantly, ‘What do I do?’”

Feeding on Christ The Least Attended Church Gathering | Nicholas Batzig, Feeding on Christ
Four reasons why the prayer meeting is so neglected.

Kindle Deals

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves by Adam Levin ($1.99)


Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise ($0.99). I loved this book.


Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest by Edward T. Welch ($2.99)


The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians by Sam Storms ($2.99)


The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives by Ravi Zacharias ($0.99)


Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentaries from Zondervan (whole series on sale, $4.99 each)

Video

4 Ways to Help your Teenagers Discover Their Identity In a Confused World | Tim Challies


Reformed “Spotlight”: Spiritual Abuse Resources

As part of the series on spiritual abuse I’m beginning to collect resources and make them available on this page. If you have any other recommendations you can either email them to me or leave a comment. You can find more recommended resources on a variety of subjects here.


Books


Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores by Diane Langberg.


The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen.


Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experience by Ken Blue.


Exposing Spiritual Abuse by Mike Fehlauer.


Spiritual Abuse: Religion at Its Worst by June Hunt.


Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness by Barbara M. Orlowski.


Faith That Hurts, Faith That Heals/Understanding the Fine Line Between Healthy Faith and Spiritual Abuse by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton.

The following books are more about spiritual and emotional abuse in marriage, but many of the principles apply to abusive churches too.


The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It by Leslie Vernick.


A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church by Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood.


Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t by Henry Cloud

The following are secular books but still many helpful observations.


Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.


In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People by George K. Simon.


Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad-and Surprising Good-About Feeling Special by Dr. Craig Malkin.

The following are out of print but may still be purchased used.

Recovering from Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth (or download Free PDF)

Recovery from Spiritual Abuse by Juanita and Dale Ryan

Blogs

HeadHeartHand Series

A Reformed “Spotlight”: Fighting Spiritual Abuse in the Reformed Church | HeadHeartHand

Reformed “Spotlight”: What is Spiritual Abuse? | HeadHeartHand

Reformed “Spotlight”: 10 Characteristics of Mr Controller | HeadHeartHand

Reformed “Spotlight”: What about the Victims? | HeadHeartHand

Reformed “Spotlight”: The Humblest Conference I’ve Ever Attended | HeadHeartHand

Reformed “Spotlight”: Self-Promoting Wolves or Selfless Shepherds | HeadHeartHand

Phil Monroe Series

Spiritual Trauma and Abuse: Assessments and Interventions | Phil Monroe

Spiritual Abuse: What it is and Why it Hurts | Phil Monroe

Why do some spiritual leaders abuse power? | Phil Monroe

What factors support the use of spiritual abuse? | Phil Monroe

Why are some people prone to spiritual abuse? | Phil Monroe

Belief System Supports for Spiritual Abuse? |Phil Monroe

Do you enable spiritual abuse? | Phil Monroe

Preventing spiritual abuse? Listen to that little voice plus |Phil Monroe

Spiritual Trauma and Abuse: Assessments and Intervention | Phil Monroe

Other Blogs

The Narcissism Test

Pastoral Bullies | Sam Storms

Spiritual Abuse: What it is and why it hurts | Phil Monroe

Warning: Dangerous people | Wisdom for life

Evangelicals and Toxic Masculinity | Samuel D. James

Reflections on Fallen Pastors |Timothy Raymond 

What is Spiritual ABUSE? | Geeky Christian

Spiritual Abuse | David Henke

Spiritual Abuse: It’s Not Just Celebrity Pastors | Gentle Reformation

How Church Bullies and Abusers Deceive Us « The Reformed Reader

Help in Overcoming Church Hurt | Desiring God

Podcasts

Culture, Christendom, and Christ with Diane Langberg.

Are We Pastors or Platform Builders? | Mortification of Spin


Check out

Blogs

Saving the Self in the Age of the Selfie | The American Scholar
“We must learn to humanize digital life as actively as we’ve digitized human life—here’s how.”

Advice for Better Bible Memory | Desiring God
Five steps to better memorization.

Do Liberals Always Win? | Russell Moore
Review of Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections).

When Your Twenties are Darker Than Expected
Spiritual direction for those experiencing dark times in their twenties.

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


Growing in Christ by J. I. Packer $3.99.


Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn $2.99. I love this book — and the next one. If you are trying to get young people to read, these two books are a good start.


The Discipline of Discernment by Tim Challies $3.99.

Video

Fatherhood in 60 Seconds
Here’s a little Monday morning inspiration for Fathers everywhere.


The Humblest Conference I’ve Ever Attended

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the Association of Biblical Counselors Conference in Texas. I’ve been to many conferences but this was the first one where the vast majority of attendees were counselors. And the overwhelming impression I had at the conference, and memory I still have, was that of humility. From the leaders of the conference, through the speakers, to the staff, the volunteers, and those attending, I was struck by the quietness, the meekness, and the gentleness that pervaded the whole conference.

As I asked myself why this should be so, I came up with three possible answers. First, counselors usually work in the background. They don’t take center stage, they don’t usually occupy pulpits and stages. They work away quietly, unseen, and largely unheralded in churches, counseling centers, health centers, etc. They don’t get the spotlight and they don’t seek the limelight. Nobody who wants to be a somebody chooses to be a counselor. By definition, the vast majority of their work is in private. That attracts the humble.

Second, counselors are dealing with the mess of humanity all day, every day. I was stunned by how much counseling was being done by every person I spoke to — often eight hours a day, five days a week, every week of life. Although I do a fair amount of counseling, I personally couldn’t survive that — it would drain every ounce of life out of me. Yet these men and women do that day in day out, dealing with some of the most painful and difficult situations imagineable. That down-in-the-dirt kind of work has a humbling and sanctifying effect.

Third, many (maybe most) counselors go into counseling because they’ve needed counseling and benefitted from it. One person after another told me of how much they had needed counseling at various points in their lives and that humbling experience of admitting their need, seeking help from others, and benefitting from wise spiritual and practical counsel was such a blessing to them that they wanted to do the same for others too. That process has humbled them and keeps them humble as they remember that they were once on the broken side of the conversation.

Whatever the causes of this humility, to witness it was a beautiful and memorable experience. Perhaps if more Christians and more pastors got involved in regular counseling, the fruit of humility would flourish more widely and more beautifully.


Check out

Blogs

The Pastor’s Typical Week

Five Ways to Use Visual Theology

A Pastor’s Reading Plan

Can Your Theology Handle the Book of Lamentations

Five Reasons Why the New Calvinism is Worth Supporting

Drop the T from LGBT

How to Be More Productive

11 Quick Takeaways From House Hearing On Aborted Baby Parts Trafficking

Kindle Books

Stopping Words That Hurt: Positive Words in a World Gone Negative $0.99.

Building Your Volunteer Team: A 30-Day Change Project for Youth Ministry $2.99.

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved $0.99

New Book

Visual Theology by Tim Challies and Josh Byers. Judging from the reaction of my daughter — “That’s awesome” — I think this book could get teens reading again.

Videos

Premier Bible Binding

The Making of a Bible from Crossway on Vimeo.