There are always expectations that are not met. Behaviors that annoy us. Major decisions poorly made. Sinful habits. Disappointing qualities can always be found in a husband, especially if one is always looking for them.
But that’s the key, isn’t it? Where is your gaze?
Are the eyes of your heart dwelling constantly on the failings of your husband? Or are they more often turned upon Jesus?
The answer to this question will determine your responses to your husband. Do you pray for him, that God would grow him into the man He created him to be, or to make wise choices, or whatever is appropriate for the situation?
Or do you make sure your husband knows your opinion about his choices and behaviors? Let’s be honest, this is the natural choice. As a wife, you can convince yourself that you know best, that the man God gave you somehow needs the words that are about to come out of your mouth. The word “nagging” is entirely fitting, more often than not.
On the flip side…
Praying for your husband will enable you to respond with patience, kindness, and wisdom. This wisdom may even lead you not to respond at all, in certain situations.
Some reading this may be wondering why we need to reconsider our responses to our husbands, especially since we are naturally armed with so many helpful things to say!
7 reasons for a wife to choose prayer over prodding:
1. Nagging builds resentment…in you both.
God wired men for leadership and designed them to need respect. As his wife, you are the most personal relationship in his life. Everything you say and do hits home and is personal, positive or negative. Even well-meaning words, if not wisely chosen and prayerfully timed can belittle the man God gave you. This builds into resentment towards you, especially if this is a consistent pattern in your marriage.
After they sinned in the garden, Eve was told, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16) This basically means the woman wants to be in charge, but the husband is designated to be in charge by God. Neither one of you are more perfect or superior than the other—just different, with different God-assigned purposes.
If you are the wife who is constantly looking at the failings of your husband, and trying to be in charge of them, not only are you feeding his resentment toward you—you are feeding the resentment you feel for him. There is a better way. Keep your eyes on Jesus, pray for your husband, and you will be amazed at how your attitude toward him is transformed!
2. The Golden Rule
Treat others the way you want to be treated. “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” (Matthew 7:12) If your husband talked to you the way you talk to him, how would you react? Is the way you treat him honoring him, as you wish to be honored by him? This can be a humbling test, and harder than you think to be honest with yourself about.
This is God’s Word. The truth of Scripture. How can we ignore commands about relationships in our most important human relationship?
Another verse along the same lines: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” (Romans 12:10) When was the last time you thought of your husband this way: as your brother in Christ? Honoring him by putting his needs before yours?
Again, this is God’s command. Have you been obeying it in your marriage? Pray about this one…
3. You are not the Holy Spirit.
As wives, it can be natural, and I might venture to say tempting, to find our identity in our marriage. We are the help-meet, the life partner, the best friend, the lover, the #1 encourager, and so much more for our precious husbands. So…
We deserve the right to say something, when something needs to be said. That’s our job. Right?
My challenge to this is really two-fold.
First, the most important Person your husband ever needs to hear from is God. And whether he’s got the Holy Spirit as a believer, or you are still praying for that to happen, what He can do in a man is more essential, effective, and perfect than a wife’s words will ever be.
So pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to your husband and work in him.
Second, your identity as a follower of Christ is more important to your existence than your identity as a married woman. When your heart fully understands this, you can be content praying for the Holy Spirit to speak, and waiting for Him to let you know when it’s your turn.
Don’t take the Holy Spirit’s job. You are many things for your husband, but the Holy Spirit is not one of them.
4. Warnings from Proverbs.
When we are seeking to be wives who are wise, let us consult the book of wisdom. Let’s talk through a few of these, shall we?
Proverbs 21:9 and 25:24, “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
This one was worth saying twice! Backed into a corner, with nowhere to go but a painful fall… I’ve seen wives practically delight in putting their husbands in this position. Women are capable of serious verbal abuse and manipulation. Most of us do this without meaning to, though. It is our sin nature to want to be in charge, remember?
Proverbs 21:19, “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”
Here it is again, the same kind of analogy. What kind of wife are you? Are you starting to reevaluate yet?
Proverbs 27:15, “A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.”
It is all too natural for us to be a “continual dripping” on our husbands. Do you constantly disagree or challenge or question? That is what “contentious” means.
And my personally most convicting verse as a wife…
Proverbs 31:12, “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”
What are your words and actions doing for your husband? Good or evil? Oh, evil seems a strong word, but in reality, it’s anything that goes against God’s way. And we’ve already read some convicting commands…haven’t we? Are you going against God’s way when it comes to your husband? Pray through these verses…do you dare to ask God to show you where you lack wisdom?
5. The peace that passes understanding.
Many of us honestly prod, nag, or challenge our husbands, because we are worried about something. We think he needs advice or input or a reminder… But what does God’s word say we should do with our worry?
Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
What would your response to your husband be if you had a peaceful heart? If you had first laid your anxiety at the feet of Jesus, with a thankful heart, specifically asking for what you need or help for what you are worried about? If you were protected from any further worry about that thing by peace you couldn’t even understand?
What if our words to our husbands were grounded in the peace of Christ Jesus, instead of the worry of our human hearts?
6. IT WORKS.
A few years into my marriage, I became discouraged because my husband was not as affectionate as I wanted him to be. Oh, he loved me. I was sure he would never leave me. He provided for me, and all that. We had sex, and that was fine. Nothing horrible was going on, but he’s a very matter of fact guy. He loved me, married me, and that was that. But I couldn’t shake my discouragement…
I craved the back rubs, the kisses on the cheek and forehead when we hug or say “good morning,” the smiling across the room at each other, the “sweet nothings” couples are supposed to whisper in each others’ ears…you get the idea. It just wasn’t his style, but my love tank was empty, and I didn’t know how to communicate this.
So I prayed for it. God knew. It was the first time in years I dared ask for something that felt so big, so beyond human capability. I prayed and prayed and prayed, and stayed up all hours of some nights crying, knowing God would hear my heart.
A few months later, I stopped being worried and discouraged about it.
A year or so later, I began to be a more affectionate wife, without expecting anything in return.
A few more difficult life circumstances put pressure on our marriage and life in general, and I focused on praying for those. Every stage, every loss, every challenge—God was teaching us both to trust Him before anything else in this world.
About 10 years into my marriage, I looked up and realized… I had a more affectionate husband that I ever wanted!! I almost don’t remember any specific time of change. But God very obviously worked in response to my specific prayers. The hugs, the kisses, the sweet nothings—what made me notice was that it was getting to be almost too much for even me! Can you believe it? Over and above what I had asked…
Want to see changes in your husband for the better? Who can actually accomplish that, plus some? Ephesians 3:20 says God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
So pray. It works.
7. You are the model for your children and younger women.
Children learn from watching their parents what marriage is supposed to be. What picture are you painting for them? They will learn what you model for them, whether you are teaching them or not. They just absorb it.
What are you modeling in how you treat your husband?
Also, as women, we are responsible, according to Scripture, to teach younger women. Titus 2:4-5 says older women are to “admonish the young women to love their husbands” and to be “obedient to their own husbands.”
I see so many women, many times in church no less, counseling younger wives in how to “train” their husbands or how they are really just another child you have to raise. The complaining Christian women participate in when it comes to husbands should be shocking and absolutely is against God’s word. (Disclaimer: I’m not talking here about women in actual abusive relationships. If you are being abused or are in danger, you should talk about it and get help!)
Sisters… instead of tearing our husbands down, let us seek the wisdom of God’s word, the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and the peace that passes understanding. Start putting into practice His very practical commands for relationships. And wait to see what God does…
Some of my favorite basics for my daily appointment with God and His Word: