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Eight Recommendations for a Wife Whose Husband Won't Lead Spiritually-author-scott-lapierre

Recommendations for Wives Whose Husbands Won’t Lead Spiritually

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The most common complaint I hear from wives is, “My husband won’t lead spiritually.” Here’s part of a message I received recently that captures the problem:

I’m really struggling trying to get my husband to lead. I have tried to encourage him to do so, but I’m at a loss! Taking the initiative is what I want him to do, but he won’t. Short of reminding him again and again and feeling like I’m nagging him – which I hate doing and have tried really hard not to do – how do I get him to step up?

The commands for wives to submit to and respect their their husbands are criticized by many non-Christians and even some liberal or egalitarian churches; therefore, as a pastor you’d expect me to regularly hear women complain, “My husband wants me to submit and I hate it.” Instead, I more often hear from wives frustrated with their husband’s spiritual leadership.


Watch this sermon I preached about the consequences of a husband’s poor spiritual leadership, and/or read the post below with recommendations for wives who find themselves in this situation.

Jacob’s family, especially his daughter, suffered because of his leadership. He planted his family at Shechem, never considering the terrible consequences. What can men learn from Jacob’s mistakes? How can fathers and husbands – as well as sons growing up to be men – do to avoid some of these same mistakes?

1. If Your Husband Won’t Lead Spiritually, Try to Make His Spiritual Leadership Easier

When Katie and I got together, I really wanted to impress her. I remember one of our first Bible studies as a couple. I decided to show Katie the relationship between three passages of Scripture: one in Isaiah, one in 2 Kings, and one in 2 Chronicles. It was probably the most confusing Bible study ever taught. Let’s just say that by the time we finished three hours later, I did not look impressive—just weird. Later that day, however, I overheard Katie on the phone telling a friend: “I am so thankful to have met a man who will read the Bible with me.”

You can imagine what an encouragement that was to hear. Sadly, I have met husbands who are reluctant to read the Bible or pray in front of their wives because they are afraid of the wife’s reaction if they do not measure up to a pastor or Bible teacher on the radio. Wives, let me give you some encouragements as well as some discouragements to make your husband’s spiritual leadership easier.

Thank your husband when he takes the family to church.

Sadly, this is more than many men do. There are women who would give just about anything to have a husband worshiping the Lord next to them. Ladies, do not take that for granted!

Encourage your husband when he prays or reads Scripture with you.

He might fumble every word he says, but you should still applaud him for his spiritual leadership. Recognize that you are among a small percentage of wives whose husbands engage in these disciplines with them. Hold his hand when you pray, and thank the Lord for giving you such a godly man.

Support your husband with the children.

Help get the kids together for times of worship. When your husband reads the Bible with the family, set an example to your children by being attentive. Encourage the children to express appreciation for a father willing to do what few men do.

2. If Your Husband Won’t Lead Spiritually, Don’t Make His Spiritual Leadership Harder with Needless Debate

This is a tough issue, because I do not want to discourage wives from asking their husbands questions or even disagreeing if they say something wrong. But if your husband believes he is going to face an argument every time you open the Bible together, you are going to have a husband who does not open the Bible with you.

Katie and I were once counseling a couple whom we finally persuaded to read the Bible together. When I asked the husband later how it was going, he told me they had stopped because whenever they read together, his wife constantly challenged him to the point that he never wanted to read the Bible with her again.

3. If Your Husband Won’t Lead Spiritually, Don’t Make His Spiritual Leadership Harder with Needless Comparisons

Wives, I implore you to never, under any circumstances, compare your husband negatively with some other man. This is your husband. Be thankful for him. If he does not have the gift of teaching, which is a spiritual gift the Holy Spirit gives to some believers and not to others, then he is probably already nervous about reading or praying in front of you or the kids. Those who do not have the gift of teaching are not inferior or less spiritual but simply have different spiritual gifts. Some of the godliest men I have known would struggle terribly if they had to teach in front of others.

The last thing any husband needs is to hear that he does not sound like the pastor on television. Do not expect a sermon or Billy Graham Crusade when your husband opens the Bible with you. The power is in God’s Word and not in your husband’s teaching ability. If your husband is reading Scripture, trust that it is washing over the family and doing its work of bringing spiritual cleansing and sanctification as we discussed in Ephesians 5:26.

Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation…

A husband feels convicted about being a better spiritual leader. He has not been reading the Bible with his family, but he knows he should. Understandably, he is nervous about doing so. He does not know how his family is going to respond. He is asking himself questions such as “What if I don’t know what to say? What if they ask me a question I can’t answer? Where should I start? What if I don’t sound like Pastor Bill?”

All day at work he has been summoning up his courage, and he has decided that today is the day. As soon as dinner is over, he is going to ask his family to get their Bibles. Fast-forward a few hours. Dinner is over and the husband’s heart is racing, but he still manages to say, “Tonight, we’re going to do something different. Why don’t we all grab our Bibles and we’ll read a passage together?”

Imagine his wife says:

  • “Do we have to do this right now? I wanted to get the table cleaned up.”
  • “Is that the version of the Bible we’re going to use? Can we use this instead?”
  • “Is this the passage we’re going to read? Why did you pick this one?”
  • “Is that how you pronounce his name?”
  • “When I was listening to the pastor on the radio, that’s not what he said about this verse.”
  • “I don’t think that’s right.”
  • “Can you ask Mike if that’s correct?”
  • “Wow, this first Bible study sure is long!”

Will this husband ever read the Bible with his family again? Probably not. Now imagine this. Same husband, same conviction, same nervousness all day. Dinner is over. He tells his family to get their Bibles and his wife says:

Instead, imagine his wife says:

  • “I am so excited!”
  • “This is such an answer to prayer.”
  • “I am very proud of you!”
    “I know not many men do this with their families. I feel very blessed to have you as my husband.”

Imagine his wife says to the children:

  • “Isn’t this great? What a wonderful daddy you have!”
  • “Let’s go get our Bibles. Don’t worry about the dishes.
  • We’ll take care of that later.” This statement alone will get the kids excited!

They pray when the study is over and his wife says, “Lord, I am so thankful to have such a godly man. Thank You that he will read the Bible with us. We are so blessed. Help him lead our family. What a huge responsibility he has. You have called me to be his helper, so please help me to help him.” These sorts of actions from a wife will diffuse a husband’s fears and infuse him with the confidence and encouragement he needs.

4. If Your Husband Won’t Lead Spiritually, Keep Reminding Him

I’ll be the first to say that as husbands we can be oblivious and forgetful at times. God has called wives to be their husband’s helper, and this is one of the best ways for you to fulfill that role. The obvious danger is that your reminders turn in to nagging. The woman who sent me the above question said she makes an effort to prevent that from happening. That’s wonderful!

5. If Your Husband Won’t Lead Spiritually, Keep Inviting Him

Ask him to lead and let him know how much you would appreciate it if he would pray with you, read the Word with you, work on the questions with you, etc.  If he accepts your invitation, make sure you let him know how much you appreciate him doing so.

6. If Your Husband Won’t Lead Spiritually, Accountability and/or a Mentor Could Help

I haven’t met any husbands who say they want to be bad spiritual leaders. Although, I have met many men who say they want to be godly spiritual leaders…but they don’t know how. I believe them! Your husband might be in this category. Maybe he could benefit from another man’s example or accountability. Is there a man in your church (perhaps an elder?) or in your lives who is strong in this area and could come alongside your husband to help him grow in this area?

Brief note to any husbands reading this: when husbands tell me, “I don’t know if I can read the Word with my family!” My response is, “If you can read, you can read the Word with your family.”

7. If Your Husband Won’t Lead Spiritually, Keep Praying for Him

I say “keep,” because most wives are already praying for their husbands:

[Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Luke 18:1

It’s easy to become discouraged while praying. Don’t lose heart! Keep praying! One of the benefits of praying is even if God doesn’t answer your specific prayer and make your husband the spiritual giant you want him to be, He will give you the grace you need to endure the situation you’re in.

When we pray, sometimes God answers our prayers. Other times He simply gives us the strength to handle the situation without Him answering the way we want.


Check out this video with Katie and I giving wives recommendations when their husband won’t lead spiritually…

8. If Your Husband Won’t Lead, Keep 1 Peter 3:1-2 in Mind

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

1 Peter 3:1-2

Peter tells wives how not to win over their husbands (with words), and how to win over their husbands (with godly conduct). Make sure you’re reading the Word, praying, and doing Bible studies with your children. Rare is the man who will not be convicted if he is not doing these things, but he sees his wife doing them!

Jesus said, “[The Holy Spirit] will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”

John 16:8b

Let the Holy Spirit rebuke your husband that his wife has to carry much of the load that belongs to him.

The Responsibility for Husbands and Wives:

  • Wife, be your husband’s biggest supporter. Encourage him when he prays and reads the Word with his family.
  • Husband, do these things that God has called you to do and that will gain your family’s respect.

Final Warning to Single Women

Unfortunately, there’s no answer that guarantees a husband will grow in his spiritual leadership. Although I provide the following recommendations, I can’t assure a wife that her husband will be different in the future. For any single women, this is one thing to keep in mind before saying, “I do.”

Discussion Questions

Husband:

  1. List three specific ways you would like your wife to encourage you in your spiritual leadership.
  2. List three ways your wife discourages you in your spiritual leadership.

Wife:

  1. List three specific ways you will strive to encourage your husband in his spiritual leadership.
  2. List three ways you will strive not to discourage your husband in his spiritual leadership.
Your Marriage God's Way book and workbook by Scott LaPierre

The content in this post is found in Your Marriage God’s Way and the accompanying workbook.

54 Responses

  1. I don’t know how to directly respond to you. Is there no option to be email notified of responses?
    Ephesians 5:21 is about all types of relationships. The next verses tell how to apply submission to them. You greatly misinterpreted Adam and Ahab’s rebukes. They were rebuked for listening to their wives because they influenced their husbands to sin. Them being women is not what was wrong with their husbands listening. Eve didn’t even say anything to Adam, she just gave him the fruit. In Genesis 21:12 God told Abraham to listen to Sarah. Mutual submission doesn’t contradict the verses you referenced, because, if you remembered in my first comment, submission is simply giving of yourself to help others. Whatever a husband is told to do is giving of himself. It’s your opinion that contradicts the Bible. Titus 2:3-5 says nothing about husbands authority. 1 Peter 3 starts with saying in the same way. It’s continuing the principle from chapter 2, instructing to not be abusive. It’s for both genders.
    I’ve never seen egalitarians deny that husbands are heads. I’ve only ever seen them make similar points as I have. I don’t know what being a head entails, because it gives no description about what a husband is allowed to do that’s forbidden of the wife.

    1. I missed in 1 Peter 3 that it says in verse 7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. Mutual submission is again addressed in the Bible. You’re selectively reading and misinterpreting because of it.

    2. Eric,
      The command for wives to submit to their husbands is one of the most common in the New Testament. There is no verse commanding husbands to submit to their wives. You have to deny the plain teaching of the Bible to think that husbands are commanded to submit to their wives and wives are not commanded to submit to their husbands.

    3. I saw I was mistaken about Eve simply handing Adam the fruit. I forgot about in Genesis 3 when God said Adam listened to the voice of his wife. I forgot that I mentioned 1 Peter 3:7 in my first comment. Why did you ignore that verse?

    4. Eric,
      You have quite a few comments and I’m having trouble keeping track of all of them and responding to them in order. If I missed something, forgive me, and let me know and I’ll try to respond.

    5. Eric,
      Yes, there is a box to check to be notified of responses.

      Yes, you are correct that Ephesians 5:21 is for all relationships, and not just marriage.

      I agree with you that husbands should listen to their wives. Check out this post I wrote. Here’s part of it:

      The three greatest resources God has given a husband on this side of heaven are: 1. The Word of God 2. The Holy Spirit (also called “the Helper”) 3. His wife. A husband who does not listen to his wife is forfeiting one of the greatest resources God has given him.

      No, submission is not simply giving of yourself to help others. That would be service. Submission is when we go along with something, even if we disagree.

      Titus 2:3-5 doesn’t directly say anything about a husband’s authority, but because it commands wives to obey their husbands, it indirectly reveals a husband’s authority.

      Regarding a head in the relationship and not knowing exactly what that means, we can consider that Christ is identified as the head of the church. What does it mean that Christ is the head of the church? That helps us understand what it means that husbands are head of the marriage relationship, especially because Ephesians 5:23 says, “For the husband is the head of the wife EVEN AS Christ is the head of the church.” Paul makes the comparison between a husband’s headship and Christ’s headship.

  2. This is just male supremacy using selected verses to justify. I can’t understand how so many women are fine thinking men have more authority than them when they’re just as capable of the same things men are believed to have the only authority to do. God is the spiritual leader. A wife can be better educated about what the Bible teaches and better apply it than her husband. Being a husband doesn’t make him automatically better suited to lead with anything. Husbands being called heads of wives is not giving men more authority than women. If it did, then it wouldn’t be much use to know, because it gives no description of what the husband supposedly has more authority to do. This is why most hierarchist marriages operate the same as mutual ones. In Ephesians 5:21 it says to submit to each other. Submitting is giving something you have to help others and is supposed to be mutual. A husband and wife are supposed to act as a unit because they’re partners, not a boss and subordinate. It doesn’t say in Ephesians for wives to love their husbands, but most people don’t argue that’s proof only one spouse should love the other. Mutual respect and love are needed for a marriage to work. Mutual authority is specified in 1 Corinthians 7:3 and 4: The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise the wife also to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise the husband also does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. In Genesis 2 it says the two will become one flesh, quoted later in Ephesians 5:31. At the beginning of creation, no rights were given exclusively to men. All that’s said is for all humanity to have dominion of the rest of earth.

    1. Hello Eric,
      Thank you for reading and writing. Your comment is different than most egalitarians. They usually argue that men and women are equal, so wives should not submit to their husbands and husbands are not the head of the relationship. You actually mentioned the word authority though, which makes the discussion even easier.

      You are correct that Ephesians 5:21 says to “[submit] to one another.” There are a few problems with believing this verse removes a husband’s authority in the relationship:
      • Ephesians 5:21 does not refer to the marriage relationship. Rather, it is talking about believers’ mutual responsibilities toward each other. Paul does not transition to the subject of marriage until verse 22, when he begins addressing wives directly.
      • At least two husbands—Adam and Ahab—were rebuked for submitting to their wives (Genesis 3:17; 1 Kings 21:25).
      • Paul cannot be teaching that husbands should submit to their wives because that would conflict with the instruction that immediately follows in verses 22 and 24 for wives to submit to their husbands, as well as similar instruction in Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:3-5, and 1 Peter 3:1.

      If you’d like to talk about this, can you let me know your thoughts on the following verses? How you interpret them?
      • First Corinthians 11:3—I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
      • Ephesians 5:22—Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

  3. I doubt this has been asked on this forum, but I also don’t know if you’re still replying to this post, or, actually, if it’s right to ask you at all, and if instead I should just privately pray about it. Maybe it’s complaining.

    I have a husband who loves me, is faithful sexually, loves our children, and tries to do what his understanding of right is. He does do a 5 minute prayer before bedtime and says that he prays privately at other times. I’m not sure when this occurs because he sadly lives glued to his cell phone, and now, I sort of resemble this being glued to my phone or the Bible. I feel like sadly lately we mutually ignore our children.

    If you could pray for us, I hope it would help.

    He lost his Mom when he was 13. His father was an Appalachian man, and he suffered from some extreme adversity. He had my husband when he was 19 and lost his wife to brain cancer when she was 31. Then his father got Alzheimer’s and it’s not clear if he was drinking before but he became alcoholic then. He was pretty strict with my husband and ignored him and left him on the TV a lot. He also spent more time with the dog instead of my husband, and when my husband’s Mom died he said that he felt like the only person who was looking at him looked away. He has severe ADHD, tells me he needs a constant stream of stimulus, and only lately, after intensive intercessory prayer, was freed from a lifelong videogame habit. But he seems to have transitioned to the phone for which I am still thankful because it doesn’t drag the children into it.

    When I met my husband he didn’t have a college degree but God helped me help him succeed in college. Maybe that’s where our marriage got all messed up. It was very much a I’m a maternal type and he’s my baby sort of thing. I thought this wouldn’t be a problem in that, he was the first sincere and safe source of love I ever had, I thought, it will just all work out; it’s sort of inverted now, but after college, he’ll just take the lead and I won’t have to really lead in anything because, after the stress of engineering school all he’ll have to do is coast.

    It sort of worked. He got laid off a couple of times but praise God he seems to have grown more and is more mature and self disciplined and stronger. I have no complaints on the work front. And he has responded to my requests to do the veganism and lost weight and is a very receptive and empathetic partner. He is gentle usually, and very intelligent and not hypocritical. He loves our children and though his father would belt him he is very gentle usually with the children. He also loves to grow plants. I respect all these aspects about him, as well as his providing for our family. I know I am lucky to have a husband at all, and he has been very patient with our charitable giving, and has forgiven me in the instances I over gave. I know more stingy, greedy people would have left me a long time ago. I also did a psychedelic trying to reach God for a personal relationship as I tried to verify that the Bible was His word, and sadly I have contracted a state of derealization which for 2 years was psychosis, and he cared for me and didn’t divorce me. So that was great. I respect all these things and I love him,

    However since arriving at a Biblical inerrancy perspective in my own life, which sadly sort of happened after a bad trip – I know no Christian can relate to that – but I felt like it is crucial to put this in there – my husband seems to yearn for “the old me”. I got rid of the Christmas tree and a few other things in the house that I felt were possibly dishonoring to God (half naked Magic card sets, worldly entertainment, and yes, sometimes more expensive things because I felt guilty considering how many of our neighbors lived in poverty). Sometimes, I spend a lot of time reading about “what Paul said.” When I try to talk about this with my husband, though he repeatedly says he believes in Christ as His Lord and Savior, he expresses a lot of irritation. “Why are you talking to me about what’s in a 2,000 year old book?” “Please don’t tell me ‘but Paul said” one more time.” “Our life was great and then you decided to watch some Youtube videos and go crazy.”

    I try to keep the Sabbath and my husband seems to say there’s no need. We talk about going to church but he says that people in the church are savages and hypocritical. It is hard – because we live in a very bigoted area with a lot of hypocrisy, and other issues probably rampant in the church; I am not entirely sure I disagree with him on this, so I haven’t really pushed the church aspect. But I heard on the radio that some families do devotionals and that the men lead the prayers. I talked with him about this but he says he read the Bible once, he has a good memory, he doesn’t need to read it again. About the prayers he says he doesn’t want to teach the children to pray for show like hypocrites. We disagree about evolution and Creationism, and I’m not sure he literally believes in the Resurrection as, like me 7 years ago, he believes it’s more important to follow Jesus’ teachings (mainly to love one’s neighbor). I know it may be wrong but sometimes I question if he is saved, and, I don’t know if this is just me being judgmental or not. He may just have a more sincere prayer life hidden below the surface that I don’t know about.

    I tried to tell him about a beautiful painting I once saw though. How the family was all praying on their knees to Christ, and the father was leading the prayer, and the rest of the family was huddled around; and how it would seem as in the next moment the wife would look to the husband, and the children to their mother, and all of them looking up to God, and it was something beautiful. My husband said why is there any need for him to do any of the Bible teachings as “don’t you do enough of that with them yourself” or something of that nature – like, don’t I already have the spiritual instruction covered.

    We were having a conversation with our son about nutrition and I admittedly interjected saying “and Jesus is the bread of life” and he got angry about this because he said it was off topic and that he was having a conversation and I “criticized” him. He also feels disrespected by my feeling that he should pray more to be a spiritual head, and at one point said I misunderstand the relationship God wants between man and woman an that I misunderstand male headship. For a long time he seemed disappointed that I was not “an engineering wife” anymore, and I think he liked that identity for me better than a stay at home wife. I understand that I haven’t been a great stay at home wife an now I have been crazy for 4 years so I am lucky he is even still here.

    But I worry about the children. He likes to do Capoeria with them (a type of workout), and then the rest of the time as usual goes straight to the phone, outside of work. I’m sort of OK with this but, I brought up maybe we could pray at the table like our old church group used to – and brought up how it was in the Old Testament to pray when we sit down and stuff like that. I think he felt that was legalistic and he sighed and tromped off. Later he came back but, I was not really in a talking mood.

    His primary argument is that I don’t respect him – and, this is partially true and it partially isn’t. I respect him in all other regards – except spiritually, because, he says things that as far as my understanding goes seem presumptuous and to go against what God set up in the Bible as far as I understand it. For example, I cannot imagine that God would be pleased for him to be saying, in front of all of us “how do you know the Bible is God’s only word, aren’t there many other books that God could have used?” These questions sound very smart and open minded and enlightened but, I have had demonic possession for a few years and have been battling for my life against them, and for me it’s not a wishy washy point, and I don’t know how to explain this to him because he calls faithful things “mystical thinking” or “magical thinking”. But he does pray and says Jesus is His Lord and Savior, although he almost rarely to never uses those last two terms.

    I know I shouldn’t judge the authenticity of his faith but, sometimes he will say things like Abraham failed the test (something I used to also think), or “that’s just symbolism” – but – it seems like a dangerous assumption to say all things in the Bible are “just symbolic”, and, there’s just a strange preoccupation with worldly things, which might be normal, but, I almost never hear what you would imagine to be “spiritual” statements coming out, and certainly never in front of the children. He talks about science and technology to them, and other things, like robots, and things for their education but, well, the last argument we had – it was about charities overseas. He basically affirmed that all the charities writing to us were frauds if they were international, and that I could only give locally. I don’t know maybe he has better discernment. But what surprised me was the anger and the seeming lack of empathy – it is like he could not stand the reality that others might be suffering in another country. And the bold statement that they were “liars”. It was just strange, what if we are wrong? Anyway, we give locally now but…the time and attention seem to go to the phone, and, there seems to not be even like 15 minutes to do a Bible study.

    But he would make the time if he thought it were valuable. But that’s actually the problem here – not that he cannot restructure his time, he can. Not that he doesn’t have the intellect or know how to teach; he is very intelligent and well capable of grasping complex symbolic logic. Not that nuance is lost on him. Not that he cannot make it palatable or engaging for the children. Just point blank he thinks spoken prayer is hypocritical, and that it’s unnecessary to set this example for the children, or talk with them about the Bible *at all*.

    For the sake of peace should I just resign to doing what he has asked – teach the children myself and be quiet already about it around him, and let him spend his life on the phone and never bring it up, and just be thankful my husband is there for all other regards for me? I just worry also above all this that, though it’s confusing because he says Jesus is His Lord and Savior – and that means he’s technically saved …. I still worry because I have never heard outside of this another saved person not wanting to read the Bible to their children.

    A few years ago there was a very aggressive, possibly demon possessed homeless woman who launched an attacking question about my husband in all of this, while I was trying to help her “well and do you think your husband would be out here, serving the poor, on the streets? do you think he’d come out here and do that?” It was a strange, off tangent. Sometimes I encounter a lot of demonically infested people who seem to know a lot about my life. It is not really a happy occurrence, maybe from the drug usage or my own failings with God. Anyway, I at the time answered “my husband is the best man I know” – because, you know, what good would it be for him to be in the church but be in adultery or exploiting others, or being dishonest or insincere…at least he is straightforward about things, you know, which is sort of rare. But, I have thought of this question…”would he?” And more importantly, is he right with the Lord?

    Anyway, if you could pray for him I’d appreciate it. He feels direspected by me and that I am condescending. He always thinks I think I am a holier than thou Christian because I bring this up. I know he thinks I’m a Pharisee. And I know Jesus said “you search the scriptures because they speak of me, but you do not come to me that you might have eternal life”. Well, but, He also said “all scripture is profitable for learning.” And there’s the children to consider too. Without hammering the importance of reading the Bible and confessing our sins, and growing together in Christ very visually and palpably for them, how will they place any emphasis or importance on it compared to dancing around half naked to an exercise song or paintball?

    Anyway, I know you won’t have answers but I was hoping you could pray for us.
    Thanks,
    Alice

    1. Hello Alice,
      Yes, I respond to all of the comments on all of my posts.

      I am sorry about what you are experiencing.

      I think many of us, myself included, struggle with looking at our cell phones too much. Giving up videogames was good, but swapping them for another screen might not be much different.

      I’m glad you removed those ungodly things that God convicted you about from your home. I’m sorry your husband wasn’t more supportive.

      If your husband will not go to church with you, I would encourage you to try to go on your own. Then come home and see if he will allow you to share with him some of the wonderful things you are hearing from the sermons, and hopefully some of the good interactions with people in the church. I would not try to get him to go to church with you by criticizing him.

      Your husband should be the spiritual leader in the home, but if he will not catechize and disciple the children, then that does fall on your shoulders. Hopefully he will become convicted himself to help.

      You said that your husband feels disrespected by you and believes you’re condescending toward him. I appreciate you humbly sharing that, and I would encourage you to try to help him feel respected. When he feels disrespected, then I would apologize and ask for forgiveness.

      Again, I will pray for you.

      In Christ,
      Scott

  4. So I’m confused still—do I read the Bible to my children every evening? My husband won’t. He too busy playing with the kids and eating and texting and resting. If I remind him or ask him he will. That’s just strange to do every night knowing his faith probably isn’t real. If we are known by our fruits then I’d say he wasn’t-I’m not his judge but stil this is a very hard situation when I’m concerned about raising godly children

    1. Cindy,
      I’m sorry your husband won’t spiritually lead his family without you asking him to do so. You said he will if you remind him or ask him. I hope it encourages you that this is better than some wives’ situations. Your husband responds well to your suggestions, whereas many wives can’t bring it up without the husband feeling mad.

      Yes, you need to read the Bible with your children if there are times your husband will not. If you don’t he doesn’t then your children will not hear the Bible for.

      If your husband is not a Christian as you suspect the make sure you’re doing two things. First, regularly pray for his salvation. Second, as 1 Peter 3:1-2 discusses, your husband can come to salvation as he sees your Christlike conduct. In other words, he sees Christ and/or the gospel, through your behavior toward him.

    2. A good thing to do is get into a daily Bible Reading Schedule. And have the kids do one as well. I like the one-year schedule by Robert Murray M’Cheyne. That schedule has many, built-in opportunities to discuss the connections in the daily schedule. And, get some other women of prayer to pray with your families. God specializes in doing miracles in answer to prayer.

    3. Walter,
      Well said. Thank you for sharing this.

      As a husband sees his wife and the Word he can be encouraged by her example.

      Just on a personal note: I spend much of my week in God’s Word, but recently I’ve been reading a book about the importance of reading the Bible and it convicted me about reading even more than I already am.

  5. If a husband does not lead why is the responsibility of a woman to continually keep him on track?
    Submission comes after the husband fulfills his duty. If he is the head he must act accordingly first to begin the plan God has. If the woman has to do everything because her husband refuses to lead that is putting the cart before the horse….is this God perfect plan? I have begged my husband however he is lazy and chooses to lead with excuses a teenager would use to have to keep from doing chores.
    I am so very disappointed I feel as if a millstone has been put around my neck and there is always a man writing a book as to why we should coddle and make every excuse in the book to overlook a mans duty. Yet a woman is supposed to be exceptionally understanding of her husbands lack to be creative understanding and just plain going without the support God intended. To coddle laziness and lack of interest in God.
    I feel like I am married to a donkey absolutely stubborn and a drain on my sanity

    1. Hello Marie,
      You asked multiple questions, so I’m responding below each…

      If a husband does not lead why is the responsibility of a woman to continually keep him on track?

      That’s not a wife’s responsibility. 1 Peter 3:1-2 discusses a wife’s responsibility: “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” Be subject and win him over, not with words, but respectful and pure conduct.

      Submission comes after the husband fulfills his duty.

      Your husband is commanded to love you. Does love come after you submit and fulfill your duty?

      If he is the head he must act accordingly first to begin the plan God has. If the woman has to do everything because her husband refuses to lead that is putting the cart before the horse….is this God perfect plan? I have begged my husband however he is lazy and chooses to lead with excuses a teenager would use to have to keep from doing chores.

      You inserted the word “if,” but if you look at the commands for husbands and wives, there’s on “if,” because they aren’t commands conditional on the other person. In other words, husbands are commanded to love even if their wives don’t submit, and wives are commanded to submit even if their husbands don’t love.

      I am so very disappointed I feel as if a millstone has been put around my neck and there is always a man writing a book as to why we should coddle and make every excuse in the book to overlook a mans duty.

      My marriage book puts plenty of responsibility on the husband’s shoulders, as do my sermons, and I’ve read other Christian marriage books and heard sermons that do the same. The fact is, there’s plenty of responsibility on husbands and wives’ shoulders.

      Yet a woman is supposed to be exceptionally understanding of her husbands lack to be creative understanding and just plain going without the support God intended. To coddle laziness and lack of interest in God.

      Yes, a wife should be understanding of a husband’s weaknesses, like I’m sure you want your husband being understanding of your weaknesses. I don’t know what you mean by “coddling” his laziness, but Scripture doesn’t command that.

      Maybe He isn’t interested in God, but you’re the one who chose to marry a man uninterested in God, and you chose to love him and spend your life with him.

      I feel like I am married to a donkey absolutely stubborn and a drain on my sanity

      I suspect he’s aware of your weaknesses too, and as your gracious to him, hopefully he’ll be gracious to you.

  6. These are such great tips! My marriage is a great witness to the life change God can work in a husband through the life (not nagging ?) of his wife.

    While my husband was disengaged with church, God grew my faith and dependence on Him. He convicted me to stop trying to do the Holy Spirit’s job!

    You’re right- even if a wife never knows her husband is watching, He is! And God will use it!

    1. Thank you Beka!

      That’s wonderful to hear about your marriage, and I appreciate the nod you gave to 1 Peter 3:1 about a wife winning over her husband, not with words, but godly conduct! That is a great credit to you.

      Yes, best for wives to not try to be the Holy Spirit in their husbands’ lives. Thanks again for sharing your testimony!

  7. these are great tips! Though I am not married , and thankful at the moment I dont feel as if It is not my time. These will be handy for those who are married!

  8. These are really awesome tips! I am surprised after read all this. I am not married, but am appreciative because at the moment I just feel as if it’s not my time. These are handy for those that are measure married! But I know something about it.

    You’re right – albeit an adult woman never is aware of her husband is observance, God is! And God can use it! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Another awesome article / post.

    I know firsthand that the best thing to do for your spouse is to be an example. When we were dating, my husband had left the church. It wasn’t that he stopped believing in God, but rather that the institution had failed him in the past.

    Over time, he began coming with me to church. By the time we were married, it was almost every Sunday. He slowly joined the Knight’s of Columbus (men’s group with a service focus with faith as a cornerstone.) Then a few years ago, he joined a men’s Bible study. 20+ years in the making, but now he dives deeper into Scripture than I have the time to do.

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing the personal testimony. What a great example of 1 Peter 3:1 and winning over your husband the right way: without a word, through godly conduct.

      Glad to hear your husband is now following the Lord.

  10. “Except for the greatest theological differences, God cares more about peace in your marriage…” This is very good advice for couples that disagree in their understanding of or desire for Scriptures.

    1. Thank you Kathleen.

      Yes, most couples will disagree in some areas. Just a question of whether those differences really need to create tension and conflict in the marriage. I would say no.

  11. I love how you focus on peace in our marriages. My husband and I have counseled many hurting marriages and it’s surprising how many are from “harping” instead of praying. I believe praying for our spouses first changes us. We can have peace “in spite of.”

    1. Thanks Pamela.

      Yes, there are essentials or “hills to die on” in marriage, but we’ve often found in counseling many of the arguments are taking place over nonessentials. Battles that shouldn’t be fought!

  12. I totally agree with you when you mentioned that God cares more about peace in your marriage but I can saw from experience that when your not on the same page spiritually it can be dang hard and messy. I am the first to admit that I don’t read the word as often as I should but when I do I always share what I pick up with my spouse. His insight is valuable. I also agree when you said to Pray… God changes so much when we give it to him!

    1. Hi Heather,
      You said:

      I can saw from experience that when your not on the same page spiritually it can be dang hard and messy.

      I bet! I’ve seen this and I think this looks to why God says:

      2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

      I’m glad you share what you read in the Word with your husband. I hope he reads too.

  13. I am at this point in my marriage. It appears my husband does not want to lead, but when we talk about it he says it’s because I don’t submit to him. From what I have always understood about submitting is when you disagree, you choose to do as your husband says/wishes. He claims that true submission is doing it because you believe it’s the right choice, not just because he thinks it’s correct. He doens’t want me to make decisions based on what he thinks/feels but because it’s what I want to do. An example from this conversation is that I believe in being apart of the church and attending regularly. Up until 5 years ago, he did too. But he went thru some stuff and slowly stopped going. I have asked him many times if we should change churches, or even if he want d me to stop going, the answers where always no. Now he tells me that if I truely respected him I would have followed his lead out of respect for him, without being asked.
    I don’t understand this. Should I stop going now? He still won’t give me an actually answer other than, “it’s too late now, if you respected me you would have do it to begin with”. I know the word talks about not neglecting the gathering together, to encourage and help one another, which do I refer to in this situation? We also have 4 kids, if I ever do stay home I do devotionals with them but he has never stepped up to lead himself.

    1. Hello Sarah,
      I copied your email and am responding below it.

      I am at this point in my marriage. It appears my husband does not want to lead, but when we talk about it he says it’s because I don’t submit to him. From what I have always understood about submitting is when you disagree, you choose to do as your husband says/wishes.

      Although I haven’t heard your husband’s side, yes, your understanding of submission is correct. It is for when a husband and wife disagree.

      He claims that true submission is doing it because you believe it’s the right choice, not just because he thinks it’s correct.

      If what your husband said about submission was true, then there would be no need for submission. In other words, if you both agree (or you think it’s the right choice) then you wouldn’t need to submit.

      He doens’t want me to make decisions based on what he thinks/feels but because it’s what I want to do.

      Although this sounds nice, the problem is – like you’ve shared – your husband wouldn’t lead at all. Since God has called me to lead, by definition this requires decision making.

      An example from this conversation is that I believe in being apart of the church and attending regularly. Up until 5 years ago, he did too. But he went thru some stuff and slowly stopped going. I have asked him many times if we should change churches, or even if he want d me to stop going, the answers where always no. Now he tells me that if I truely respected him I would have followed his lead out of respect for him, without being asked. I don’t understand this. Should I stop going now? He still won’t give me an actually answer other than, “it’s too late now, if you respected me you would have do it to begin with”.

      I’m sorry, but I can’t tell what he wants you to do in this situation? Can you give me some more details.

      I know the word talks about not neglecting the gathering together, to encourage and help one another, which do I refer to in this situation? We also have 4 kids, if I ever do stay home I do devotionals with them but he has never stepped up to lead himself.

      Yes, you’re right. I’ve seen women in this situation where there are competing biblical commands: submit to your husband versus not neglecting gathering together. I will tell you, and I hope this can bring you some encouragement, that as the leader of the relationship this will be on your husband’s shoulders and not yours.

      I will pray for you!

      In Christ,
      Scott

  14. Hey Scott, thanks for a good, solid post. One additional thought, perhaps addressed in other comments. If a husband won’t lead, it may be helpful for his wife to simply (and sincerely) ask him why. In my experience, the answers can vary quite a bit, and, are sometimes even unknown to the husband himself. Asking can open up a conversation between a couple and invite the husband to reflect more deeply so that lasting change can occur. Thanks again for tackling an important issue most marriages face to one degree or another.

    1. Hi Bryan,
      Good to hear from you. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      This is a good contribution. I hope people who read the post scroll down to your comment. I’m thinking one of the honest responses from a husband could be something along the lines of, “I’m intimidated by you” or “I’m afraid you’re going to argue with me about what the Word says.”

  15. Hi Scott… I didn’t read all the comments, so maybe this has been stated already – but I disagree that the first point is for a godly wife to “keep reminding” her husband to lead. The nagging wife is not looked upon kindly in Proverbs. Time spent in prayer and finding strong Christian mentors for each spouse would be better time spent – at least from my understanding of scripture both NT and OT.

    Blessings

    1. Hi Marissa,
      If you don’t mind me asking, did you read the whole post? If you did, what did you think about these parts. In the woman’s question at the top she said:

      Short of reminding him again and again and feeling like I’m nagging him – which I hate doing and have tried really hard not to do – how do I get him to step up?

      So it seems very clear from her question that she’s trying not to nag him. I had a link to this post, Nagging your husband can kill him?, to reinforce the problems with nagging. Under the first point I wrote:

      The obvious danger is that your reminders turn in to nagging. The woman who sent me the above question said she makes an effort to prevent that from happening. That’s wonderful!

      Did you read all this? Isn’t it pretty clear that nagging is frowned upon? At the same time, a wife is her husband’s helper, so it’s going to involve reminding him of things.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. If you didn’t read the whole post, I hope you’ll go back and do so, because I think it clearly frowns on a wife nagging her husband.

  16. Great points, Scott! The only thing I would add is when he is willing to lead don’t snatch back the reigns. That will keep him from wanting to step up spiritually. Instead, follow his lead as he is learning and like you said encourage him along the way. It’s a learning process and as wives, we need to help them flourish not critize them or feel we need to take the lead back when they aren’t doing things how we would do them. Submitting in all circumstances and not just the areas we agree with.

    1. Hi Kristi,
      Great addition, thank you! I completely agree with you. Here’s a part in my book that makes this exact point and contains a great quote fromHelen Andelin:

      If a wife really wants her husband to lead, she should put him in the position to do so. Get behind him. Encourage him. Make him feel responsible. Then, when a husband starts to lead, a wife needs to make sure she does not complain about his decisions or criticize him for not doing things the way she wants. She needs to embrace the decision he makes, and resist the temptation to take over. Helen Andelin, founder of the Fascinating Womanhood Movement for promoting biblical marriage writes:
      When a woman hands back the [reins] to her husband, she must let go completely. She must turn her back on it, come what may. If he makes a mess of it, let him suffer the consequences. Refer all [questions] to him. Don’t shield him in any way. He must suffer. That is the only way he will learn [to lead].”

      You said, “Submitting in all circumstances and not just the areas we agree with.” I appreciate this point, because I’ve heard different women say, “I would submit to my husband if I agreed with him.” You’d think the problem with this statement would be obvious—if you agreed with your husband you wouldn’t have to submit to him. Submission is in place entirely for when a wife does NOT agree with her husband. God commands wives to submit so the relationship can go forward.

  17. Thanks for this post . I believe many homes are going through this kind of situation in one form or the other. I like it when you said ” keep praying ” also that, God answers might be in giving us strength to bear the situation. It was similar to a woman I advised on similar issues yesterday incidentally. Her own case was the husband doesn’t attend church meetings nor involve in any spiritual matters. She claimed the husband was not like that before they married and at the beginning of their marriage. So she resulted into nagging him. When I told her to stop nagging , be patient, continue praying and leave God to do his perfect work in him. She told me she has been patient enough . But I told her a spiritual person doesnt give up on spiritual matters. It is through faith and patience we obtain the promise !
    Once again thanks for this post .

    1. Hi Richard,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. That situation sounds very similar to what I discussed in the post. Your counsel to her was good. I’m glad that’s how you advised her, versus allowing her to feel comfortable divorcing her husband.

      I’ve also had many people tell me, “S/he wasn’t like this before we were married.” Having heard this statement so many times, it’s encouraged me to encourage people to make sure they know the person they’re considering marrying very, very well.

  18. 1 Peter 3:1-2 always seemed a bit difficult to me. I admire women who can follow their husbands’ leads so much that they can win them over. I strive to be this kind of wife even though my husband is already a believer, but I far too often rear my ugly head.

    1. Hi Tara,
      By difficult, do you mean challenging, or difficult to understand why God would say that?

      That’s humble to acknowledge what you said. I’d say, because all women have a sinful nature, that it’s a struggle for all women. But I doubt all women would admit it on Facebook :). Just to be clear, men have a sinful nature too, and I think the way it often “rears its ugly head” for us is through stubbornness.

  19. As a husband and father, sometimes I view home leadership from a collaborative perspective. Of course, there is always that extreme where the husband largely neglects his duty and withdraws from taking the lead. In such scenarios, invitations and a gentle reminder as you have suggested will help. However, I love your idea about praying about it. I am a great believer in power of prayer in marriages. I have seen first hand what prayers can do in a marriage. Great post, Scott.

    1. Hi Olu,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, it’s definitely a collaborative effort in a sense. It has to be. Katie is home with the kids while I’m at work. She has to lead at that time, considering she’s in charge. The unfortunate situation takes place when a husband is home and the wife STILL has to lead.

  20. This is a very timely read since my husband and I are going to lead a family seminar this Friday! I took notes of your suggestions! Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Nance,
      That’s wonderful to hear! I will pray for you and your husband both regarding this seminar and that God would use you to strengthen marriages and families. I’m blessed my post might have helped you – even in a small way – in this endeavor.

  21. I believe the majority of women since Adam dropped the leadership reigns, have this issue. When, as women, we have our leadership in running our home and taking care of our children 10-12 hours a day, it’s very easy to continue after our spouse is home. Our children look to us for direction, discipline and leadership while Dad is at work.

    When he returns we lead in the food they eat, when mealtime is, homework etc. And, Dad lets us lead because he’s tired from working, fighting long commutes and managing those under him at work.
    As wives, we need to give our husbands time to, “re-enter” the home and family before giving the run down of who did what to who etc. Husbands need to come home, take a shower, ask him to sit and keep you company as you fix dinner. This time can be used just between parents to reconnect and find out about his day. Then eat a nice meal in peace. As women, we need to instruct our children in word and example of this. During dinner children can discuss their day. From that time on, we can redirect our children towards Dad, his opinion, his thoughts in a subtle turning back the leadership to him. If you or they have a question, ask him. We used to take turns of saying grace prior to dinner. Then Dad can see how his children are growing in their prayer life. When it’s his turn, he can use it as a teaching time through His prayer. As a part of saying grace, we each would thank God for Dad working every day to provide for us a home, food and clothing to show our appreciation. It’s hard to not pick up the reigns of leadership, instead of frustration, use that energy to ask God how you need to change and grow so your not an obstacle. Leave the reigns down, some men know their wife will keep picking them up, so don’t. If you struggle, go into the bathroom and take a step back, but leave those reigns of leadership alone. It may become a battle of wills, don’t participate, keep yourself busy, chew gum, ha, keep your mouth from speaking and taking those lovely reigns beckoning to you, alone. Slowly, your husband will see your not taking over, and sometimes to us, painfully slowly, he’ll pick them up a little at a time.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Great to hear from you!

      That’s a fantastic insight explaining why it would be hard for wives to turn the leadership back over to the husband when he comes home considering that responsibility has been on her shoulders all day. We moved to WA from Lemoore, CA which is hope to a large naval based. Husbands would go out on cruises for up to 18 months. Can you guess the biggest problem the couple had when the husband returned? Basically what you said, but in an even worse way. The husband had been gone – not for 10-12 hours, but 10-12 months. The wife had been in charge, running the house, making the decisions, etc. Now she’s expected to turn that back over to the husband? It’s difficult!

      The other situation I’ve seen – which you also alluded to – is the husband comes home, the wife is exhausted, so she wants him to handle the kids, discipline, etc. He’s tired. He wants to eat. He wants to crash on the couch. So then you have wife wanting the husband’s influence, but he’s drained.

      Mary, your comment is wonderful, with some great, practical advice. I hope anyone who reads my post makes it down to see your comment too.

  22. Our Pastor’s recommendations are the best practices (as usual 🙂 Thank you!
    I would add, be a good/active listener and review the decision making process with your hubby ( participative management is not a threat to submission). There’s an old saying- it’s lonely at the top.

    I look for confirmation (most of the time 🙂 re big family changing decisions, that we’re making a sound/biblical decision vs a worldly one driven by emotions, faulty assumptions, too much risk, etc.
    I need help thinking heavenly. I’m deeply encouraged when my wife reviews the priorities that went into making the big decisions and when we have peace/unity re big change. I’ve made big revisions many times after my wife summarizes some of my nutty ideas. Sleep on it, is a good practice.

    1. Hi Steve,
      Very well said my friend! I especially appreciated this comment: “participative management is not a threat to submission.”

      I’ve said before from behind the pulpit, in my mind, the three greatest resources God has given a husband on this side of heaven are:
      1. The Word of God
      2. The Holy Spirit (also called “the Helper”)
      3. His wife
      A husband who does not listen to his wife is forfeiting one of the greatest resources God has given him.

      It would be hard for me to think of going forward with a big decision if Katie was opposed to it.

      God bless you Brother!

  23. I think your suggestion to pray about the situation is very important because there is no problem God can’t solve when we call on Him in prayer. I like your approach of not offering absolute guarantees. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Edith,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You said, “There is no problem God can’t solve when we call on Him in prayer.” I have seen a couple marriages that were pretty terrible, but were able to be changed very quickly when both people committed to obeying God’s Word. It has the power to improve even the worst relationships.

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