No matter how wonderful and perfect your beloved husband seemed before you got married, marriage does a funny thing to people. It changes them. It brings out their best parts and also their worst.
Suddenly, that handsome stud you couldn’t get enough of during your dating days is grinding on your last nerves and you’re contemplating smothering him in his sleep with a pillow… except that you’d have to watch the kids yourself and that would stink.
(No, I don’t really want to smother my husband–I like snuggling him too much–but sometimes I joke that he might want to do that to me! 🙂 )
The truth is, no matter how much you love your husband, there will always be things about him that you want to change. It’s not that you don’t love him–just that you want what’s best for him, and sometimes, can’t we just see that a little better than they can?
(Of course, the same could be said in return, but that’s a discussion for another day!)
Sometimes, the things we want to change are pretty trivial. He leaves his socks on the floor. He constantly leaves the kitchen cupboards open. He eats in bed. He snores. He doesn’t change the toilet paper roll.
But what happens when the things we want to change are significant? When they are spiritual things?
The truth is, every one of us could benefit from finding ways to grow in faith, and husbands are no exception. And as wives, we are in the prime position to recognize EXACTLY those areas where our husbands need to grow, and care enough to say something about it.
After all, we care and we only want what’s best–right?
But the problem is–while there are certainly times when it is necessary to speak the truth in love, especially if your husband is caught up in sin, there are also just as many times when our best course of action is simply to keep our mouths shut!
There is a Holy Spirit–and you’re not him!
So the next time your husband is making what you deem to be poor spiritual decisions–whether he’s sinning or he’s neglecting to grow–here are five things you need to keep in mind.
1. You are Responsible for Yourself
Whether your husband is making good choices or bad choices, the fact is: he’s a grown man who is entitled to make them. You can politely express your concern, but you cannot force him to do things your way, and you shouldn’t try. We all make mistakes and learn from them, and your husband is entitled to do the same.
If he doesn’t want to go to church, doesn’t want to read his Bible, doesn’t seem interested in praying–that’s HIS choice.
What you CAN do, however, is to make sure you are making the best decisions yourself. Set a positive example. Pray. It may not seem like much, but making the right decisions yourself is often the most powerful thing you can do.
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” –1 Peter 3:1-2
**Please note: If your husband’s behavior is harmful to others, it is okay to take measure to protect yourself and others. There are times when divorce is okay. If you or someone you know is being abused in any way: get help!
2. He Might Not Know How to Lead
If the problem in your marriage is that your husband is failing to be the spiritual leader of your home, understand that he might not know how. Men who don’t grow up with good examples of spiritual leaders often don’t know what is expected of them, and even if they do, their way of leading might be different than the way you expect.
Instead of stewing quietly, viewing him as a failure, have a friendly conversation with him about what spiritual leadership means to him and do a lot more listening than talking.
Once you understand where he is coming from, politely let him know your dreams for what your family’s spiritual life could be like–understanding that they’re just that–dreams. If he listens to your opinions and has no interest in them, again, that’s his choice.
3. You Might Be Sabotaging His Efforts
Unfortunately, many husbands would love to be the spiritual leader of their families, but they aren’t able to because their wives get in the way. Do you ever criticize his decisions or insist on making important decisions yourself, even unknowingly? Many husbands desperately want to please their wives, and as a result, will often turn into peacemakers rather than leaders for the sake of their marriage.
4. Your Sins are Just as Bad
That sin that you’re upset at your husband over? Chances are, you have sins of your own that are just as bad. Instead of worrying about your husband, ask your husband to tell you a few sins of your own you might be missing. That will humble you in a hurry!
Yes, you can judge others, but you have to start with yourself and your sins first.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” –Matthew 7:3-5
5. Jesus Died for You Both
And honestly, the issue of “who did what” doesn’t really matter all that much, in most cases. You are both sinners in need of a savior and Jesus died for you both. If Jesus can extend grace to both of you, you can do the same.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when you need to speak up, particularly if your husband is caught in serious sin that will hurt himself or hurt others. But for the minor day-to-day things–when he isn’t quite living up to his potential or doing the things you like–let it go!
You aren’t your husband’s Holy Spirit, and it isn’t your job to make sure that he is always perfectly in line. Give the real Holy Spirit room to do his job while you do YOUR job of being the loving and supportive wife–he’s much better at it than you are anyways!
Are you ever guilty of trying to be your husband’s Holy Spirit? Did you realize it at the time, or only looking back?