Dear Spiritually Lonely
Dear Word Washed Wife,
I have been married 7 years to my husband. He is an honest hardworking man who is also a great father to our children. We are active in our church and rarely miss a Sunday. Sounds pretty perfect, right? WRONG. We are on totally different pages spiritually. He is not the spiritual leader of our home. We never pray or read the word together and I feel so alone in our relationship. I sometimes wonder if he is even a Christian. I’ve tried to talk to him about this but he just gets offended and asks me to quit nagging him. I want a better marriage, help us, please!
Dear Spiritually Lonely,
Thank you for writing! I appreciate your bravery in sharing your heart with me today. You are not alone; your husband’s lack of spiritual leadership is a common problem in marriages. Though I understand your frustration, nagging your husband won’t help. The problem you shared is a spiritual one – it requires a spiritual answer. But before we address what is going on with your husband, please allow me to encourage you with a few truths … just sister to sister.
First, your husband sounds like a pretty nice guy. You say that he is an honest and hardworking man who is also a good father. Those are three great qualities! Admirable, actually. I think a moment of praise for the fact that your husband is not a liar, is not lazy and is not a deadbeat dad may be in order. Respect him. Most men crave respect more than they do oxygen. When was the last time you told your husband that you admire him for providing for his family? I believe that respect and honor go a long way in any relationship, and in the marriage relationship, it is what Godly wives have been called to do (Ephesians 5:33). I don’t believe that God called us to this because we need to give respect; I believe that we are called to do this because God knew that our husbands would need to receive respect in order to be at peace in a hard world. Remember the curse that Adam received in the garden of Eden after he and Eve sinned? The curse was for all men, and your husband lives under that same curse every day (Genesis 3:17-19). It is tough for our husbands to get up every morning and go off to work; all the while feeling that they are not getting anywhere. The dedication your husband shows by going to work each and every day deserves honor and a little praise to boot 😊! Listen closely to your husband as he tells you about his day and offer to help him. This is a critical part of the design and purpose of marriage. God created you to be your husband’s helper. Your husband needs you to come along side of him; not berate him. And when you do, do not be surprised by his reaction to your sincere respect and help!
Next, how often do you pray for your husband? Spiritual leadership is a spiritual problem – the solution to this problem must start with prayer! One of the best ways that you can learn to appreciate your husband is to try to see him as God sees him. When I see my husband, Jody, like God does, I pray for him in a much more purposeful way. In my prayers for my husband, I don’t seek to control him or change him to my liking. Instead, I pray for his character to be revealed so that I can see why God made him the way he did. Then I can be moved to compassion, not judgement, for the issues in his life that were there before we married. In my husband’s and my marriage group, many men say that they don’t know what spiritual leadership looks like and have no idea how to even get started down that road because they had no earthly model in the home in which they grew up. If this is the case with your husband, encourage him to pursue Godly male friendships. Allow him some quiet time to pursue God. Don’t hit him with the “honey do” list the second he walks in from work. And when he does take a spiritual step, applaud his effort! Your husband needs your love and respect! Give it freely. The next time a need for joint prayer comes up, grab your husband’s hand, bow your head and wait for him to start praying. I am confident that the man you described in your letter is able to find the courage to lead in prayer. Each subsequent prayer will become easier and easier for him!
One last thought, I often hear this complaint about a husband’s lack of spiritual leadership or lack of spiritual maturity. Wives often feel superior to their husbands in this area. Sisters, let us not confuse our generally greater perceptiveness with a superior spiritual relationship with God. That would not be any fairer than it would be for someone to say to you that because they can lift more weights in the gym than you they are spiritually stronger than you. Just as physical and spiritual strength are different, so are perceptiveness and spiritual maturity are different. Let us leave God to judge our husband’s heart and instead work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Keep loving your husband well, and stay daily washed in the Word. If you do, you will not be spiritually alone for long!
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God.
DISCLAIMER: In the interest of all reading, and with an intent to simplify some questions, I have taken the liberty to edit some letters. Because every marriage situation is unique and multi-faceted, I have personally reached out to each person who wrote me an e-mail to offer more specific details that address their needs.