Becoming Help-Able: Learning to Let Him Help

by | Jan 5, 2017 | Uncategorized | 34 comments

Merchandise is Here!

Are you feeling overwhelmed at the beginning of this New Year, with too many responsibilities on your to do list? Maybe it’s time to ask your husband for help!

Today my good friends Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory are joining me to talk about how to stop feeling quite so overwhelmed. They’ve just published an AMAZING book called Overwhelmed (wow, do you see a theme here?), and I asked them to share something with you today–a little change in attitude and thought that could turn everything around. 

Here’s Cheri, on behalf of her and Kathi:

A happy marriage is one where spouses help each other! But do you often REFUSE your husband's help because you could do it better? Here's how to become more help-able!

“The rolls are ruined!”

I stare into the breadmaker at a heap of sticky dough and a pile of flour that’s somehow evaded the mixing blade for the last 30 minutes.

Reaching for a rubber scraper, I attempt to salvage my family’s favorite part of Christmas dinner.

How could I have forgotten to set a five-minute timer? If I start over now, it’ll be two hours until we eat and …

“Do you need help?” my husband asks.

Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your SanityMy irritation switches, from my own failure to his over-eager offer of assistance.

“No,” I snap. “I’ve got it.”

As Daniel leaves me to duke it out with the dough on my own, I feel the gnaw of regret.

He caught me off guard, I tell myself, trying to assuage my guilt. I had barely started assessing the problem and wasn’t ready to discuss a solution until…

On the surface, my thoughts seem reasonable.

But I recognize the truth beneath all my rationalizing.

I didn’t decline my husband’s help because he offered it the wrong way or at the wrong time.

I rejected my husband’s help because I am unhelp-able.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Are you ‘un-helpable’? When we refuse help, we’re usually hung up on control. Stop it!'” quote=”‘Are you ‘un-helpable’? When we refuse help, we’re usually hung up on control. Stop it!'”]

Why We’re So Unhelp-Able

I’ve taken great pride in never asking for help. Always being the helper, never the helpee. Just the thought of asking for help felt so selfish.

My childhood role models indoctrinated me with the unspoken rule: “The only time you can ask for help is when you’re in crisis.”

So for more than four decades, I’ve had a habit of refusing help until it’s too late for anything other than rescue.

4 Ways to Become More Help-Able

Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to become more help-able.

And let me tell you: this kind of change takes serious effort. It would be so much easier to just keep doing what comes naturally to me. To keep refusing help under the guise of being “unselfish.”

But 1 Corinthians 13:5b tells me that “[love] does not insist on its own way.”

It’s been sobering to realize that the way I reject my husband’s help isn’t unselfish; it’s actually unloving.

Here are four intentional ways I’ve been working toward becoming more help-able:

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘4 ways to become more help-able (because that’s what God wants for you!)'” quote=”‘4 ways to become more help-able (because that’s what God wants for you!)'”]

1. Recognize that being un-help-able is my problem.

I have to resist the urge to make it my husband’s fault that I’m so un-help-able. It’s so easy to spin a story about how He didn’t offer the right kind of help. At the right time. In the right tone of voice. To assure myself that If only he had ________, then I would have gladly accepted his help!

There’s a word for this line of thinking. It’s not flattering, but it is fitting:


A primary cause of my un-help-ablity is my own desire for control.

2. Say “Yes, please” when offered help.

My rejection of help isn’t limited to my husband. My knee-jerk answer to everyone offering help has typically been, “Nope. I’ve got it. Thanks anyway.”

So now I’m intentionally choosing to accept help from pretty much anyone who offers.

Even when I’m sure I can carry all the packages to my car all by myself: “Yes, please.”

Even when I really can open the door all by myself: “Yes, please.”

To make it a habit at home, I’m practicing it everywhere I go.

3. Say, “Thank you” after receiving help.

Learning to say an honest “thank you” has been far harder than expected.

I find myself avoiding eye contact, wanting to rush through and get it over with, as if discounting the help I’ve been given will somehow minimize my embarassment at having to depend on someone other than myself.

But it turns out that receiving help isn’t just about me. Giving a heart-felt “thank you” creates a moment of connection, vulnerability, intimacy: the very things I want most in my marriage.

4. Practice asking for help when I don’t even need it.

Yes, you read that right: I’m learning to ask for help even when it’s not necessary.

I’m learning to say, “Could you help me with ______”? and to be fine with whatever his answer may be. Sometimes, he’s able to help; other times, he’s not.

Either way, I am becoming a wife who responds, “Yes, please!” when my husband asks, “Do you need help?” and who outright asks for help, as well.

Let Him Help

I used to try so hard to prove I could do it all, on my own. It was such an overwhelming, isolating way to live.

As I’ve been learning how to ask for and receive help, I’ve discovered a vital truth:

I can’t be my best all by myself.

I need help. We all do.

These days, I try to ask for help soon enough that others—especially my husband—can give it easily, on their own terms.

I keep encouraging myself: You don’t have to wait until a crisis to ask for help.

And giving myself permission: You can ask early. You can ask often.

You can ask for help when you don’t even need it.

Wow, that’s revolutionary, isn’t it? It reminds me of that scene in the movie Date Night, where Steve Carrell and Tina Fey are in a car and he’s saying, “I would love to help, but you never ask me. You never leave room for me.” It was actually quite moving.

If you’ve related to what Cheri was saying here, then Kathi and Cheri have a FREE resource they’d like to share with you, and a chance to win a copy of their book Overwhelmed!

Here’s their FREE resource:

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions (that will only last for a week), how about creating a Personal manifesto that will carry you through the rest of your life? Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.

Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your SanityAnd now, here’s how you can win! Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of our readers!

Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

• trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
• decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
• replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:
#1. LEAVE A COMMENT below.
#2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.
That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on next Thursday, January 12. Canadian and U.S. residents only, please! (Sorry to everyone else!)


Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.

[adrotate group=”16″]

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Karin Flint

    I feel as if I wrote the words in the letting your hubby help article! Oh my gosh!!! Thank you!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know! I’m really guilty of a lot of that, too. I always think, “he just didn’t ask the right way.” Really?!?

  2. Angie

    And when you DO ask for help? Repeatedly? For things you ACTUALLY need help with? And he has told you to ask him for help and still doesn’t follow through? We need an article on husbands who give good lip service but never follow through.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Don’t worry, Angie–it’s coming next week!

  3. Marsha

    Wow.. this is my life. The control thing, definitely.

  4. Heather Ratliff

    I so need help with this. I have a chronic illness and sometimes I do have to accept help and it’s really hard!!

    • Jenn (Kathi's Ministry Team Member)

      I totally a get that, Heather. We feel weak or lazy when life brings us to a stage of needing help from others. I’m a widowed mom of four and I could not do this without people helping me. I’ll bet your illness requires you to receive help when offered and sometimes ask. But we live in a society that’s all about showing off how independent you can be. Maybe a good thing to do is realize how God is going to bless those who reach out to help you. A friend once said to me when I denied her offer of help, “Don’t deny me the blessing God has for my obedience when He tells me to help you.” That made me laugh! God will repay those who reach out to us when there is no way we can repay them.

  5. Sue

    Doing it all is exhausting. But reading this I am realizing I do actually have control issues. I hate to ask for help. I don’t mind giving help but I always feel like it’s MY situation so it’s mine to take care of….I like your thoughts on practicing asking for help.

  6. Melissa

    Something I’ve learned about being help-able is just because he doesn’t do something the way I would do it doesn’t mean he’s doing it wrong. He’s unloading and reloading the dishwasher so that I don’t have to. Who cares if the dishes aren’t loaded in the exact way I would do it? They still get clean! And I didn’t have to do it!!! Yay!!! 😀 I usually pack his bag when he travels. He thinks I over-pack for him, but I remember all his toiletries when he usually forgets a few important things so he’s grateful. I don’t pack his bag the way he would pack his bag but it doesn’t mean I do it wrong, and his bag still gets packed. So it’s little stuff like that. And we’re a lot happier!

    • Jenn (Kathi's Ministry Team Member)

      What an awesome example, Melissa, of being a team in your marriage. And perfect example of letting go of the way things should be done in order to let him help you.

  7. Jenny

    Wow. That’s me. No thanks, I got it- then annoyed that I have no help. Sad.

  8. Cynthia Reid

    Great idea, asking for help before we see red!!

  9. Anonymous

    I see me in so much of this. I have isolated myself from my family by doing this for far too long. It is something I definitely want to work on. I never realized it was a control issue but it makes complete sense after reading this.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad you found it helpful!

  10. Tiffany

    Wow! This put into words something I’ve been noticing lately. I also come from a ‘only be the helper not a helpee’ family. My husband is so persistent though that after 7 YEARS together I’m slowly learning to just accept the help offered. It’s been interesting to watch it happen and watch how much better we work together when we’re both offering and ACCEPTING help.

  11. Ashley

    Ok, here is my dilemma. How do you teach a grown man how to do certain domestic things (like start the dishwasher) that are so simple and he really should have been doing from childhood? I’m afraid of creating the parent/child dinamic unintentionally, and him feeling insulted.

    Another thing we deal with is my husband doesn’t care about doing things the right way. Now I’ll admit the towels don’t have to be folded as perfectly as I fold them, but if they are not folded with some sort of order they will not fit in the one bathroom cabinet and one small kitchen drawer. But he’s a rebel and wants to challenge everything. (No, you can’t put regular dish soap in the dishwasher. You’ll end up with a mess.)

    • Lydia purple

      I think I am a bit like your husband… And I have a two year old just like that! Most things she has to learn the hard way…

      I think you can do two things:
      Write a note with instructions and put it in the corresponding place (like for example what settings for the laundry, which detergent and how much and leave the note on the washer) and then when you ask him to help with the laundry you just say “can you put a load in the washer, there is a note of what I DO on the washer” and then let him do it on his own. If he does his own thing and it’s a mess like the dish soap in the dish washer he will learn and then most likely follow the instruction on the note next time. Meanwhile try to show him grace and let him deal with the mess he may have created…

      Trust me he’ll not listen if you try to lecture him on how to do it. But try to be clear on what you expect as result. This is what my mom did with me and let me do my thing. It gave me the freedom to figure out my way of doing the chores but still made sure the results were what she was happy with.

      • Ashley

        Good thoughts! I’ll have to try it!

      • Lisa

        As much as possible, explain what you do and why and then let him do it his way. And let him clean up his mistakes. Don’t rescue him from bleached clothes, damaged dishwashers, burned food, etc. Some people really do need to learn things the hard way.

  12. Kimberley

    Wow, this post really speaks to me! Why do I feel like I have to do it myself without my husband’s help so that I can take credit for the effort? It’s almost like I’ve wrapped my identity up in what I do, rather than who I am. It may be time to work on my sense of self worth apart from my so-called accomplishments. Thanks for the great post and your willingness to be vulnerable.

  13. Bekki Lindner

    This is so convicting. It’s crazy to think just how much our desire for control can literally negatively affect every area of our life. Some really good things to think about.

  14. Keelie Reason

    It takes swallowing a lot of pride to let others help us, including our husbands. My husband and I take a team approach to family life these days. We just divide and conquer the tasks and responsibilities.

  15. Kerry Cox

    WOW. I was just looking for a “things to do” app, and landed here. I’m a guy, married 44 years, and just saw my life flash before my eyes. I’m fiercely independent, and quite the loner. I never ask for help (except in crises). One things for sure after reading this: I need help!!

  16. Dan Stauffer

    I too grew up in a household where you only asked for help when you just couldn’t complete the tasks on hand and felt really, really overwhelmed. Although I’m a dual citizen my ancestry has German roots. With this family background it was a stiff-upper-lip and push through.
    One should be able to ask for help far before it reaches the crisis stage!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire


  17. Elisa Gray

    Cheri and I have known for a bit that we are really twins separated by a decade. But this statement just proved it again: My childhood role models indoctrinated me with the unspoken rule: “The only time you can ask for help is when you’re in crisis.” Lately I’ve been pondering my propensity to jump to panic when there really isn’t a need for it. Yesterday I listened to a podcast that inspired me to ponder what my behavior was chasing. And I realized that it was help. I wanted help, but the only way I could ask was to be in crisis. I’ve been doing much better with this the last month or so, but knowing what is going on is going to help me continue down this much healthier path.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow, that’s a great insight! So if you believe that you have to be in crisis to need help–then you’re way more prone to be in crisis! Scary.

    • Jenn (Kathi's Ministry Team Member)

      I love this Elisa. I always felt, growing up, that if I needed help it was because I was lazy. So I did it wrong and just got yelled at. It’s hard to break those ingrained ideas about toughing things out and not asking for help. I love that you are choosing a healthier path!

  18. Lisa

    It’s also okay to say, “yes, I need help. I need a few minutes of silence to figure out what I need, though.” My brain had it all sorted out as a solo endeavor. It takes a minute or two to map out a two-person plan.

    Also, sometimes the help I need is my husband sitting in the kitchen, talking to me while I work, not watching football.

    • Jenn (Kathi's Ministry Team Member)

      Lisa, that’s excellent! “I need a few minutes of silence to figure out what I need….” Sometimes we can feel like it would take too long to figure out but it might be worth asking for those minutes for the payoff of help and teamwork. Great way to phrase it!

  19. Scottie B.

    Read this article just as I am filling in my 2017 calendar. What a blessing!

  20. Tosin

    I have been asking God to help me a lot lately and when I stumbled upon this post it really got me thinking. I wonder how un-helpable I have been despite my prayers. Surely enough it is for the same reason of having control that I have been contradicting my own prayers.

    I will totally use the suggestions you have provided to become more helpable. Thanks for sharing!

  21. P

    This literally came at the best possible time Sheila. It was written for me! Thank you SO much!


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