How To Prioritize Your Husband's Mental Health

As wives, one of the most important roles we have is supporting our husbands' mental and physical health. Showing unconditional love, especially in times of mental struggle, fosters a deep intimacy that makes him feel safe to share his feelings.

By Freda Donnelly4 min read
Pexels/Alexander Mass

June is Men’s Mental Health Month, and it serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of caring for men’s mental well-being. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50, occurring at four times the rate of suicide for women. Veterans face an even higher risk, being 1.5 times more likely to take their own lives than the general population. By being attentive and supportive, we can make a significant difference in our husbands' mental health and overall happiness. Turning this awareness into everyday actions can promote both well-being and connection within your marriage.

In Sickness and in Health

Whether you wrote your own vows or went the traditional route, it’s a reasonable expectation that you and your spouse are a team both in sickness and in health. At the same time, it can be alarming when your husband is experiencing the hardship of mental illness. Yet, it may be helpful to know that you’re not alone. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, roughly 16 million Americans will experience depression at some point in their lives. This means that one in six Americans either are grappling with depression or will in their lifetime, with many being on psychiatric drugs as well. 

The findings of Samuel L. Pauker, M.D., and Miriam Arond, co-authors of The First Year of Marriage: What to Expect, What to Accept and What You Can Change, offer hope. They suggest, “When signs of depression are addressed early on, before too many ugly accusations are hurled back and forth, relationships can be saved. They may even be stronger than before.” So, how can you prioritize your husband’s mental health?

If You See Something, Say Something

If you see a change in your husband’s behavior, your observations can potentially prevent more serious issues by giving you the chance to offer him the support he needs. What can these concerning changes look like? While every man is different, some things to look out for are sudden changes in mood, sleep patterns, appetite, substance use, and risk taking behaviors. Additional concerns can be neglecting personal care, difficulty concentrating, expressing hopelessness or helplessness, and a decrease in libido or energy levels. 

When you see something that causes you concern, it’s important to be gentle when you bring it up. Avoid bringing it up during an argument; instead, initiate the conversation when he’s relaxed. Pay full attention to what he’s saying, listening with empathy and compassion. Instead of interrupting, wait for him to finish before contributing your own thoughts. 

Being his peace means that you create a judgment-free zone for your husband to share his emotions with you. 

Being his peace means that you create a judgment-free zone for your husband to share his emotions with you. When he comes to you with his problems, ask him if he needs to vent or if he would like advice. Another thing that’s been helpful in my marriage is each of us asking the other about our day, every day. 

How much can fit on your plate is determined by a wide variety of factors. Checking in and knowing what your husband is going through can help you make sure he’s not overwhelmed or that you’re not expecting unreasonable things from him in his present state. My husband and I ask each other quarterly if our expectations are reasonable or if we need to adjust them to make room for stressors that haven’t been considered. This understanding has created a stronger bond, both fostering intimacy and enhancing trust.

Being Supportive

Mental health issues can take time to resolve, and they don’t resolve themselves in a vacuum. Small gestures can make a significant difference, whether it looks like acknowledging his efforts and admirable qualities – both external and internal ones – or putting little love notes and jokes in his packed lunch. Simply being present and showing you care can be massively impactful. Constantly offering advice can make a depressed man feel even more shame – he knows he should do X, Y, and Z to feel better, but he just doesn’t have the motivation or the willpower to do it right now.

There are many ways to nurture your husband that feel natural and loving. Start by modeling self-care to encourage healthy habits and create rituals that promote relaxation and connection. Actively engage yourself in his daily life, showing support without trying to control him. If you’ve found a good therapist, you could ask to bring your husband to a session to get help addressing issues that affect both of you. After all, his well-being is your well-being. Normalize expressing emotions and vulnerabilities, and support his need for personal time and independence. 

You don’t have to do everything yourself. Being understanding of his need to spend time with his friends and family is crucial to boosting his serotonin. There are people within your shared community who will be able to understand him and support him in a different way than you can, offering perspective on his difficulties and perhaps sharing advice on how they’ve overcome those problems for themselves. 

Provide reassurance of your love and commitment, maintaining honesty and transparency to build a strong foundation of trust. Celebrate his unique qualities and strengths, and practice patience with his mental health journey.

Let’s Get Physical

Prioritize dates to carve out time for your marriage and reconnect. It can be as easy as going to brunch, watching either the sunset or sunrise together, or going for a walk around the neighborhood holding hands. What’s important is the quality time and additional opportunities for intimacy. You can further set the mood for intimacy by curating a calm, uncluttered space without any distractions. 

As co-author of your personal love story, you can help shape a collective narrative of romance and resilience. 

Intimate interactions increase the release of endorphins and serotonin; these neurotransmitters are linked to mood improvement and feelings of happiness. Furthermore, physical intimacy releases oxytocin – often referred to as the "love hormone" – which promotes feelings of relaxation and reduces stress levels. All of these hormones have been linked to better sleep, boosted self-esteem, and easing anxiety. 

Improving your husband’s mental state will allow him to enhance his job performance, overall physical health, and parenting, therefore making your life together better. Plus, getting an orgasm out of it is all the better for both of you!

Put the ‘Active’ in Activities

Getting physical outside the bedroom is equally important. Encouraging your husband to adopt a healthy lifestyle can have a tremendous impact on his mental and physical well-being. Plan active outings together like hiking, biking, or even taking a dance class. These activities not only keep you both fit but also create more bonding moments. Suggest joining a gym together, or trying out a new sport or physical hobby; mutual motivation can make it more enjoyable and consistent. Simple daily habits like morning stretches, pilates sessions, or evening walks can become part of your routine. Supporting each other in making healthier food choices and cooking nutritious meals together can also strengthen your connection. By embracing these healthy lifestyle choices, you’re not just improving his mental health but also building a stronger, more vibrant partnership.

Closing Thoughts

Prioritizing your husband's mental health isn't just about supporting him – it's about nurturing your relationship and ensuring a happy, fulfilling life together. While it’s by no means all on you, you do have the power to make a significant difference through your daily choices. As co-author of your personal love story, you can help shape a collective narrative of romance and resilience. By recognizing the signs, initiating open conversations, and embracing everyday practices that foster connection and well-being, you're not only strengthening your bond but also creating a foundation for a lifetime of love and support. Remember, your marriage thrives when both of you are mentally and physically healthy, so continue to prioritize each other's well-being and cherish the journey together.

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