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?
I really appreciated this post! I accepted Christ as my Savior at a young age and have studied the Bible throughout my entire life. My husband came to a relationship with Christ later in life and was not raised in a Christian home, so his knowledge of Biblical things is not the same as mine. I didn’t realize how difficult that would be for me when we got married and I looked to him as my spiritual leader. Thankfully, I did apply most of the points in your post early on in our marriage. I prayed constantly and tried to encourage without overwhelming him. I wanted to give him space to grow his faith, yet let him know that I had confidence in his ability to lead. He has come such a long way! Here was a man who wouldn’t even pray in front of me when we were first married who is now very active in church, teaching our boys about God, and intimately discussing his faith in our small group Bible studies. All of that work was through the power of the Holy Spirit, not me.
That’s great that he has grown so much! Hopefully you’ve been able to do the same 🙂
Hey Jess I’m so glad to hear that. I feel the same about my marriage. My husband seems to barely make an effort but all I do is pray for him and us.
Thank you for rhis inspirational message. I have been trust the Holy Spirit to change my Husband and convict him of the sin that has brought a wedge between us. I love my husband dearly though he has hurt me so much. I find my self praying for him more than myself. I am so desperate to see a turn around in his life i asked the Holy Spirit to remove this stranger out of our marriage. Please stand in the gap and pray with me ladies. I beileve that the Holy Spirit has began his work in my husband.
I think you are spot on here. We cannot and should not do the work of the Holy Spirit. His timing is perfect…ours is so much less than. There is so much that I relate to here. I remember learning these lessons with my husband (and I’m sure he also did with me) when reading scripture; I was convicted as the Holy Spirit highlighted Matthew 7:3-5 to me. The light bulb went off in a way I had never seen over something very specific. My heart broke, but I got it. I love when God speaks so clearly to us.
Blessings to you.
Thanks, Kim! I’m glad this was a lesson you were able to learn before it was “too late.” Too many wives never do…
I needed to read this now. I am finding that praying and waiting for God is what I have to do, even if I don’t want to!
Oh, Sarah, I’ve definitely been there! lol. It stinks. But it’s awesome when your husband comes to you a few days later and says he’s realized it himself–without any nagging from you 🙂
Hi there! I caught this post earlier this week and loved it! I want to share this with my own readers in a weekly series I run on my blog called “Roll Out The Red Carpet For Bloggers!” I share amazing blog posts from the week that I think my readers show know about! I hope that ok! Thanks for this post! Fabulous!
Absolutely! Thanks so much.
Thank you for this article. My husband passed away a few months ago. He was a good husband, father, grandfather and friend to many. His actions were kind and caring. He was not a church going man but I know his heart was good. I was not with him the night he passed away. and I ask myself over and over why when I stayed with him every other night. why not that night. Maybe he and our savior had conversations they needed to have alone.I still feel very upset with myself because I was not there.
Awww, hopefully they did!
Nice post. Why don’t you write an article for women on how to choose their “right” spiritual mentors. God bless.
I just stumbled upon this, and I want to thank you for sharing. I’m not married, but dating. And this was extremely convicting for me. So thank you!!
Glad it helped!
I’ve been searching for an outlet to pin point issues in my marriage. My wife constantly accuses me of looking at other women or staring. I would take full responsibility if it were true however, she says that she watches me (my eyes, etc.) then threatens to look at other men a certain way that would invite them. Spiritually I feel she’s taken on a spirit of oppression that torments her. I don’t feel she respects me as a man because she constantly tells me how selfish I am, or I’m passive, or I didn’t take charge, or I’m to forgetful, or not focused, or lazy, not doing enough for our family as a father, and so much more. I have expressed to her that she’s a very critical person and it needs to stop. But she explains that it’s my fault she’s that way because I’m immature.
She started this kind of accusation while dating but I thought it was simply a misunderstanding. Now our marriage is at a point that I can’t be around the opposite sex without me feeling like I can’t look down to be mistaken for looking at some other women back-side.
I feel so isolated and can’t talk to any one about her behavior because that would be breaking our code. She puts on a front around people that she is so perfect. I’m literally at my end with her. I have tried praying with her expressed my feelings to her but everything goes back to a time when I did the worst thing ever while married in our first year: I masturbated (no pornography). That one thing caused her to not trust me and constantly see me as a potential cheater. Since then I’ve stopped doing that and will not go back to that again.
Aww, I’m sorry to hear that you’re dealing with all of that. That’s really rough. Have you tried talking to a third party who could help you intervene? Like a pastor, counselor or trusted friend?
Oh my goodness, this was just so good, from beginning to end!! I was especially impacted by the reminder that he just might not know how to lead. My husband is a wonderful head of the house in so many ways, but I’ve been frustrated that he doesn’t lead us spiritually. Point #2 was a good reminder for me. I need to remember that he did not have an example of a Godly father leading his family and give him lots of grace and patience … And prayer!
I also liked your last point – we have our own sins!! Why is that always so easy to forget?? 😉
Wonderful article, I’m so glad you wrote it and shared.
Have you tried talking to him about what you’d like from him? Or even just casually mentioned “I heard some people do XYZ and thought that was such a neat idea!” and thanks! 🙂
Hi, After months of separation my husband returned but recently admitted its only for the kids. We are still living together but it hurts me a lot that he doesn’t show love and affection. he even question my faith. I wonder if God will ever restore our marriage though I have surrendered everything to God and keep on praying for our restoration. I dont know why I have this feeling that if I obey God to do my part and still be a wife to my husband we can still be fixed, sometimes I hate that feeling as I feel the more i humble myself to my husband I am being taken for granted.. I know im not perfect, I always pray to God to change me and give me wisdom to have always the right decision and how to treat my husband, but you know sometimes I get tired and thoughts came to mind until when am I going to do this.
Awwww, I’m so sorry to hear that 🙁
I understand Nes…Huge loss, most painful grief. My husband left and came back several times, then finally quit our 12 yr marriage. Agony. Through counseling and prayer and reading the Bible, and reading "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, " "You Can Be Happy No Matter What," " When Divorce is Not an Option," and other great books, I saw how I drove my husband away through my constant criticisms, and controlling behavior and generally failing to understand how to take care of our relationship, especially in conflict, and how to let go and not dwell on hurts.
I will share key take away from MAFMWAFV… men feel loved when they get acceptance, appreciation and trust.
Good luck! See if you can get yourself a good counselor and let him know you care about what he thinks you need to work on.