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How Wives Win Over Husbands the Right and Wrong Way by Scott LaPierre

How Wives Win Over Husbands the Right and Wrong Way

If you’re a wife, Peter tells you how not to win over your husband (with words). And he tells you how to win over your husband (with godly conduct):

Wives submit to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, you may win over your husband without a word by your actions, when he sees your respectful and godly conduct.

1 Peter 3:1-2

To learn how wives win over their husbands the right way and the wrong way, watch the message I delivered at a Marriage God’s Way Conference, and/or read the blog post below…

“Submission” is frowned on in the world’s eyes, but it’s a clear command to wives in Scripture. What does it look (and not look) like for wives to submit to their husbands as the church does to Christ? Also, how can husbands make it easier to submit to them?

Win Over Your Husband the Right Way

Wives, Peter says you will not win over your husband by what you say, but you might win over your husband by your lifestyle. The gracious submission of a Christian woman to her unsaved husband is the strongest evangelistic tool she has. Just what does this look like in practical terms? Comparing 1 Peter 2:18 with 1 Peter 3:1­–2 can help with the answer because of the parallel language between the verses:

  • “Servants, be submissive to your masters” is similar to “Wives . . . be submissive to your own husbands.”
  • “Not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh” is similar to “even if some do not obey the word.”
  • “With all fear” is similar to “your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”

In both verses, it is important to understand that this is not speaking of servants or wives submitting out of fear of their masters or husbands, but submitting out of fear and reverence for God.  When an unbelieving husband sees this heart for God it will be a powerful witness. His wife’s godly behavior will convict him to be a godlier husband. Her life will speak louder to him than any words.

Let the Holy Spirit Win Over Your Husband

If a wife wants her husband to read God’s Word more, pray more, or be a godlier man, rather than nagging him, she herself should read God’s Word more, pray more, and be a godlier woman. Wives should be encouraged by Jesus’s promise to send the Holy Spirit:

“When [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin.”

John 16:8

Notice the emphasis is on the Holy Spirit doing the convicting. This includes husbands, unbelieving or otherwise! Wives are not supposed to take over the Holy Spirit’s role in their husbands’ lives. Wives should pray, and then trust the Holy Spirit to do the work Jesus promised He would do.

No husband can sit at home being unspiritual and lame while watching his spiritual wife without feeling ashamed. A husband might pretend that he is not convicted, and his wife might not be able to tell by looking at him that he feels convicted, but he does. In contrast, when a wife is unsubmissive, angry, and nagging, the husband does not see God through her and as a result avoids feeling convicted at all.

What It Looks Like to Win Over Your Husband the Wrong Way

A wife can win over her husband, but not necessarily in a positive way. Two examples of this are:

Scripture gives another example of a man who made a habit of allowing the women in his life to win him over with their words, and it resulted in disastrous consequences. Ironically Samson was the strongest man in history, but he was overcome by the persistence of two women who could be termed the Queens of Nagging.

Samson chose a Philistine for a wife. During the wedding festivities, he posed a riddle to thirty men from his bride’s town. If they did not solve the riddle, each of them would have to supply him with a set of clothing. If they solved it, he would supply each of them with a set. Wanting the answer, the men went to Samson’s wife, who agreed to help her fellow Philistines obtain the answer from her husband. For seven days she wept and complained:

“You only hate me, and do not love me! You have posed a riddle to the sons of my people, but you have not explained it to me”

Judges 14:16

Samson’s new bride “pressed him so much” (Judges 14:17) that he finally told her the answer, and she told the Philistine men. Feeling betrayed, Samson rejected his wife and she married one of the thirty men (Judges 14:20).

Sadly, Samson did not learn from his mistake. Sometime later he fell in love with another Philistine woman named Delilah (Judges 16:4). By this time the Philistines were furious over Samson’s successful attacks against them. They offered Delilah a large reward if she would find out the source of his great strength so they could defeat him.

Delilah nagged Samson and he told her lies on three separate occasions (Judges 16:6–14). Each time she would wait until Samson was asleep, then she would call the Philistines and act on the lie he had told her. Since Samson was lying, he was able to easily defeat the Philistines. Finally, Delilah played the victim:

“How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies”

Judges 16:15

Does this sound familiar? It is almost identical to Samson’s first wife:

Delilah pestered [Samson] daily with her words and pressed him so that his soul was vexed to death

Judges 16:16

She made him so miserable with her nagging that he wished he were dead. He finally admitted:

“No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

Judges 16:17

Samson knew that Delilah would turn him over to the Philistines, but he told her anyway and it is a strong testament to the power of a woman’s nagging. In a scene that is painful even to read, Delilah cut off Samson’s hair while he slept and his strength was gone. The Philistines captured him, put his eyes out, and turned him into a slave. He remained in captivity until his last-ditch stand that resulted in his death along with three thousand Philistines.

The lesson is some wives manipulate their husbands like the two women in Samson’s life. They play the victim and act as though they are being mistreated. They nag until their husbands’ souls, like Samson’s, are vexed to the point where death feels a better alternative. The wife’s words finally wear down the husband until he gives in.

Jesus Sets the Example of Godly Conduct Versus Words

The greatest example, not just for wives, but for all of us, is Jesus Himself. In the apostle Peter’s discussion of submission, he emphasized the way Jesus demonstrated godly conduct through actions and not words:

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps . . . who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously

1 Peter 2:21-23

The specific example Peter was referring to was Jesus’s conduct during His trials leading up to the crucifixion. He was silent before His accusers, answering them not a word (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12; Acts 8:32). He was willing to endure the shame and eventually the cross itself for our sakes. While we were yet unbelieving and lost in our sins, Jesus was willing to lay down His life to win our salvation. This is the example to which we are called, whether wives or husbands, in being willing to live in such a way that unbelieving spouses may be won to salvation through the conduct of a believing spouse.

Discussion  Questions

  1. How does a couple lose when a wife manipulates and/or wears down her husband?
  2. How can you demonstrate godly conduct instead of words to your spouse?
  3. In what ways can we be like Christ when we are reviled and when we suffer?
  4. Husband:
    • To give your wife confidence in the Holy Spirit’s work in your life, what has He convicted you of regarding being a husband?
    • When do you feel like your wife was manipulating you and/or wearing you down?
    • Does your wife model what she would like you to do by her godly conduct?Does she faithfully avoid behavior she doesn’t want in your life?
  5. Wife:
    • Do you model what you would like your husband to do through your godly conduct? Do you faithfully avoid behavior you don’t want to see in your husband’s life?
    • What do you need to trust the Holy Spirit to convict your husband of?
    • Do you recognize you were manipulating your husband and/or wearing him down?

26 Responses

  1. Might the Holy Spirit choose to speak to an unbelieving husband through a believing wife’s words and verbal witness? How will they hear without a preacher–can’t that apply to a godly, wise wife? Yes, the example, quiet spirit, and love are most important, submitting for Christ’s sake, I get that. But I don’t believe believing wives are never allowed to speak a word for God to their unbelieving husbands, with great humility and prayer for the Holy Spirit to give understanding and God’s call for salvation. How do we know that “disobedient to the word” in 1 Peter 3:1 means unbelievers and not just believing husbands who are outside God’s fellowship in disobedience, since Peter wrote this letter to believers? Is there something in the original language that shows us that “disobedient to the word” means unbelievers? Thanks in advance if you can answer this.

    1. Hello Beth,
      You asked some good questions, so I’m going to respond below your thoughts…

      Might the Holy Spirit choose to speak to an unbelieving husband through a believing wife’s words and verbal witness? How will they hear without a preacher–can’t that apply to a godly, wise wife? Yes, the example, quiet spirit, and love are most important, submitting for Christ’s sake, I get that. But I don’t believe believing wives are never allowed to speak a word for God to their unbelieving husbands, with great humility and prayer for the Holy Spirit to give understanding and God’s call for salvation.

      Yes, God can definitely use a wife’s words in her husband’s life, and I’m sure He has countless times in most Christian wives’ marriages. I have a section in my book, Marriage God’s Way, about wives being their husband’s helper, and I discuss wives being one of the greatest resources God has given men, and this includes through a wife’s counsel, advice, thoughts, etc.

      So if that’s not the point, then what is?

      It’s two-fold:
      1. First, wives should recognize their behavior is a stronger witness than their words
      2. Second, wives shouldn’t nag their husbands as that won’t win them to Christ

      How do we know that “disobedient to the word” in 1 Peter 3:1 means unbelievers and not just believing husbands who are outside God’s fellowship in disobedience, since Peter wrote this letter to believers? Is there something in the original language that shows us that “disobedient to the word” means unbelievers?

      We know Peter was referring to unbelieving husbands because he used similar terminology for non-Christians elsewhere. For example, in 1 Peter 1:2 he described believers as “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience.” Peter equated obedience with salvation, and rightly so. Believers should be obedient. In 1 Peter 2:8, he similarly described unbelievers as “being disobedient to the word.” Since he used obedience to refer to a believer and disobedience to refer to an unbeliever, Peter’s description of men who “do not obey the word” in 1 Peter 3:1 means he was referring to unbelieving husbands. This does not mean the man is a scoundrel. He may be kind, affectionate, and hold to a high moral standard; however, if he has not taken the first step of obedience—that is, the obedience of faith—then he is properly identified as disobedient.

      Thanks in advance if you can answer this.

      You’re welcome. Please let me know if there’s anything else!

  2. This is a subject that we just don’t discuss enough. All of your examples are great. I really cannot think of anything else I would add to this one.

  3. Sure, and thanks for receiving my feedback so well. I figured we’re on the same page with the distinction between ‘practicing’ and ‘struggling with’ sin. Great verses to consider, by the way.

    I’ve seen a lot of younger Christian guys panic when the struggle becomes intense, and start to question their salvation and God’s presence even though they’re fighting hard. They need to be encouraged.

    At the same time, guys who aren’t fighting need to be warned strongly in love.

    So, this is a distinction that’s really important on many levels: for us personally, for guys faced with sexual sin and temptation, their wives, and, church leaders who are trying to shepherd all of the above.

    Thanks again, brother!

    1. Hi Bryan,
      Hmmm, when you wrote this it really created some pity in me for these guys, and I don’t mean “pity” in the condescending way, I mean genuine sympathy:

      I’ve seen a lot of younger Christian guys panic when the struggle becomes intense, and start to question their salvation and God’s presence even though they’re fighting hard.

      I think we project ourselves on others, and because this isn’t a particularly difficult struggle for me, or you could say by God’s grace He’s given me victory in that area, I lack sympathy for those who are dealing with it in the way you describe. I’m sorry for the previous sentence in that I don’t want you (or others) to “think more of me than you ought” (Romans 12:3), but I didn’t know how else to explain why I’ve – regrettably – lacked compassion that I should feel. The sin (pornography) seems so evil to me that when I think of men engaging in it, at least married men, I have trouble not thinking of them being unsaved. But I know I have my own sins and struggles, and someone could easily look at my failings, the evil of them, and think the same.

      One other thing I’ll add. It seems, at least in some circles, that pornography is sort of an acceptable sin. It’s almost like people are resigned to thinking, “Well, men are men, so they’re just going to struggle with it. The percentage of men looking at porn is so high, it must just be something all guys are into.” That could contribute to a desensitizing to the seriousness of it, and I think I’ve seen that too.

      At any rate, I think you have a very healthy balance, and I’m glad these young men have you in their lives. I mean that. God bless you Brother!

  4. Hey Scott, I think I enjoyed this post more than any others you’ve done. (And I like them all.) It was clear, biblical and ended with a note of hope in Christ.

    With regard to #1 above, in my experience, nearly all of the young men I counsel are both Christians and struggling in some way with pornography. It’s a fine line. On the one hand, as you say, ‘no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him’ (1 John 3:6). But on the other hand, even Paul could say ‘I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.’ (Romans 7:19). So, while a pattern of unbroken sin can certainly indicate someone isn’t saved, I’m equally concerned to see that someone is fighting sin, even if they’re losing more than I’d like. The fighting shows the Spirit is at work (Galatians 5).

    Finally, with regard to your first discussion question, a wife can go to her church leadership if necessary. Hopefully, it won’t need to escalate to formal discipline, but this process can be the stimulus a husband needs to change.

    Thanks again for a fantastic post, Scott!

    1. Hi Bryan,
      Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and disagreeing with me :). I mean that! I appreciate your question/clarification, and I agree with you. Romans 7 is the safe haven, not for the unbeliever, but for the believer who is struggling against sin. And I think the key word is “struggling.” You said you’re counseling Christian young me who are “struggling.” You definitely see the “struggle” in Paul in those verses. 1 John, and other places, describe people who are not struggling against sin, and that serves as evidence of being unregenerate. With that said, I think that could’ve been clearer in my post.

      The word that contrasts struggling is “practicing. For example, in Galatians 5:21 Paul said:

      envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

      Probably the clearest place is 1 John 3:4-10:

      4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

      These verses describe individuals practicing sin versus struggling against it, and that’s evidence of being unregenerate. Again, that could’ve been clearer in the post. Good contribution about the church elders too.

  5. These are important topics… Wives need to know where the hang-ups are for their husbands in this area. I have a great mentor, a woman further down her walk with God, in marriage and motherhood… and she also makes sure to get to the mail first and removes any pieces of advertising that have women dressed less than modestly because that is a hang up for her husband. He doesn’t know she does it she doesn’t tell him… she just does it to keep snares from her husband’s path…little things like that are important.

    1. Hi Marissa,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. Your mentor sounds like a wise woman. I appreciate what she does for her husband. That’s a good piece of advice for wives, that I’m glad is included on the post now. She might tell him that she does it though, instead of keeping it from him; if he’s a godly man he’ll probably appreciate her efforts for him!

  6. We can hold our husbands accountable on some level, but I think it’s really important to pray for there to be other men in their lives that will hold our husbands accountable too. Over accountability with our husbands can turn into nagging if we aren’t careful. Having another man to hold him accountable is helpful on many levels.

    1. Hi Tara,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you also recognize the need for men to have accountability in their lives from besides just their wives, not because it agreed with the post, but because I’m glad to hear that from a wife! Also, yes, great point that it can turn into nagging!

  7. I came across this article after a huge heated argument with my husband a couple hours ago. I prayed the prayer of salvation back in 2008 and tried with all my might to be a Christian. Go to church read my bible, serve go to lifegroups. I kinda forced my husband into coming to church with me. We come from non spiritual households so most of this was all brand new to us. Long story short. We both became Christians and attended church and received pastoral counseling. We have been married for 15 years. My husband is active duty army who came back from a deployment about 3 months ago. Over the last year I met a women who has come alongside me to guide me in strengthening my relationship with Christ and teaching me things about the true cost of following Christ, her and her husband have served along time with the navigators and committing their lives to disciple others. So she offered me the same invitation which I took and it completely changed my life and my view of God and my view of being a Christian. Even changed the way I read the Bible and search out God through my quiet times.

    My husband claims to be a Christian, every morning he reads a short devotional he gets sent, he has knowledge that he is to be the leader of our family ( through pastor counseling) while he was deployed he did bible study books that we sent him. He is an amazing provider and he is steady. We are going on 3 years no alcohol. Our marriage has really changed so positively in a lot of ways. We have 2 girls, 5 and 7. So yesterday I went on lost with my mentor and got to do some cold turkey evangelism and got the opportunity to share the bridge. I was so excited to get out there and get passed the fear and anxiety of approaching strangers so that I could more open to let God use me even more for Him. My husband avoided any kind of spiritual talk. I talked about how awesome it was and the details and how refreshed I felt and how me speaking so loudly got an older couple to turn around and ask questions. And I could tell he was doing the uh huh, that’s nice, and the more I talked (because I was trying to get more out of him) he was like that’s great I’m happy for you. The night before he blew of going to bible study with me knowing how much it means for him to just come with the girls and I.. he expressed that he feels they expect too much from us by completing a chapter a week. ( doing 2-3 questions a day you can complete a chapter) they are short read this scripture what attitude or write in your own words… stuff like that. I was very hurt cause it once again seemed as though he knew how much it meant but blew it off for selfish reasons.. I even said, no one is gonna fault you for not doing your study. They will encourage you and challenge you but in the end, we all know it’s your decision and it’s hurting yourself not anyone else. So of course I went nutty and started telling him that there is a cost to being a Christian and if he would read with me or take some of my help about reading he would know there is an expectation. I quoted Joshua 1:8 cause he said he reads a little. To make matters worse I basically accused him or told him that I don’t believe he is a Christian and he pretends to be because there is no fruit, you are getting angry about not wanting to do a study, you don’t want to meet with someone to help you like I’m being helped… when I ask what you got out of a sermon or quiet time you just say “nothing”. So basically I did everything I shouldn’t, even down to when he finally responded (because he shuts down and I get angrier to where I keep on b/c I feel, hey you hurt me and frustrate me by your actions so I’m not gonna be quiet and give you what you want.. to get out of the conversation, cause apparently being submissive and not pushing about study just makes you chose to not go when you know I want you to and you told me you would) with I feel like you are not suppose to judge me.. I said I absolutely can judge you because you claim to be a Christian and you are in sin by not studying the Bible and teaching your kids about Jesus. And I gave a scripture vs to go along with it. It was crazy.. I was so angry that I kept saying I don’t believe you are a Christian and I want to know if you are, you either made a choice for Christ or you didn’t, and if you did, you are suppose to be actively trying to grow that relationship and lead us and learn his will for you. He said he is, but then when I asked how do you become a Christian? What are you suppose to believe? He said in jesus, I asked what about Jesus and he say well you know you tell me, I said I want to know what you think. He said in his ways.. so now I’m pretty sure he has never made the decision and if he is reading the Bible everyday, why is it not transforming him. I think he is not a Christian. He ended up sending me a message apologizing and admitting to getting defensive cause he knows he is failing and I’m just trying to help him and encourage his relationship with God, says I should expect that. I also apologized and asked forgiveness because I know without a doubt coming at him the way I did was wrong, is not biblical, is not the way a wife is to speak to her husband. I told him that I think I get frustrated because he says one thing and then doesn’t show that he is trying. Where I can at least say yeah this is wrong I shouldn’t do it and I actually try and seek God and others for help. So I think, lol, my question is, is it absolutely wrong to point out a sin in my husband that says he is a Christian? I know doing it the way I did was wrong, but I also believe it’s wrong to model to our children that we all love Jesus and so certain things out of that love, and he doesn’t have to. Any advice would be greatly appreciated… sorry for the novel, I thought it would be best for some background. This same stuff has about our relationship with Christ has been going on for just over 10 years. He was even annoyed with me when he came back from deployment and we went to lifegroup at our pastors house which was usually a potluck and fellowship and the pastor would speak about the previous sermon and ask specific thought questions on it, and we were doing a study on the book of mark. It’s like he just refuses to have anything to do with the Bible our side of his 2 min devotional thing.. he told me this morning that he read the gospels and is in acts now. If so, why in the world does he not see what I see? Thank you and I enjoyed the article and it has challenged me in a good way and reminded me of what Christ expects of me. I just can’t get over thinking that if I don’t point out his wrong living, he will continue? And I love him too much and I desire Christ to be the center of our marriage so bad.. to just not have that

    1. Hello Renee,
      I’m sorry to hear about the problems you and your husband are having, but I am blessed by your pursuits of the spiritual disciplines, including church attendance, Bible study, small groups, etc, and that a godly older woman has come into your life to mentor you.

      I appreciate that you shared some positive things about your husband, even though you’re hurt by some other things. It’s especially important to keep the good things about him in mind, especially when your flesh wants to tempt you to think only of the bad.

      If I’m understanding you correctly, it sounds like you could tell your husband wasn’t interested, but you kept talking so that, as you say, you could “get more out of him.” It might have been better to stop before he became annoyed. Perhaps he knew you could tell he wasn’t interested, and felt disrespected that you kept going. While I wish your husband was interested in the spiritual things you were sharing, you can’t make him interested. And trying to make him interested causes problems (as you saw).

      I can tell you and your husband have different expectations. For you, the questions are not too much, but he says they are. Whether they are or not, I don’t think you want him doing the questions against his will. I appreciate your candidness in sharing you “went nutty,” when you lectured him. I can imagine this going poorly. He probably felt like a child. I don’t know if your husband is unwilling to put forth as much effort as he should – maybe that is the case – but I can say, again, forcing him will cause problems. First Peter 3:1 says, “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.” You have to try to win over your husband “without a word.” Lecturing him – even if you’re right – will probably cause him to dig in his heels. Let him see your submission and respect, as that will convict him to be a godlier man. If your husband is not a Christian as you shared with him, getting angry with him won’t get him saved.

      I’m glad you both apologized and asked for forgiveness from each other. Your and your husband’s humility is a good sign.

      You said, “I just can’t get over thinking that if I don’t point out his wrong living, he will continue? And I love him too much and I desire Christ to be the center of our marriage so bad.. to just not have that.” First, Jesus said the Holy Spirit will come and convict the world of sin (John 16:8). Do you believe that? If so, then let the Holy Spirit do His work on your husband, and you try to do yours. Second, I can tell you want Christ at the center of your marriage. Your husband knows that too. He needs to see that through your actions versus your words. Keep praying for him. The truth is that as I read what you said about your husband, there are some wonderful things about him that many women wish were true of their husbands: he goes to church, Bible studies, reads the Bible, etc. Rejoice over that and pray for further growth.

  8. My wife says she is a Christian reads her bible every day and goes to life groups every friday and church on Sunday. I her husband am not a Christian there for I walk on egg shells around her I bought a new car with out her and she need to new tire for her vehicle I realize now that was wrong of me to do that she say that I’m selfish and she want to leave me

    1. Hi Joseph,
      I’m glad to hear that your wife is a Christian, but I’m sad to hear that you’re not. What’s holding you back if you don’t mind me asking?

      If your wife truly is a Christian, she shouldn’t leave you. 1 Corinthians 7:13-14a says, “If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife.” Your wife should desire to see you become a Christian, and she’s the greatest influence in your life.

      I appreciate your humility in recognizing you shouldn’t have purchased this new car. Have you apologized to her for your mistake?

  9. Thank you for posting this article and for the reminder that it is the Holy Spirit that does the convicting. I have been mulling over 1 Peter 3:1 quite a bit for the past few weeks. I have a similar situation as to “Many Years” and my husband also is a very good provider. What I find frustrating is that I settle it in my mind to be silent and not use my words when provoked, but then still find myself speaking defensively and out of agitation before I can think better of it. My question is how do I keep silent during those trying times, without acting as though I am ignoring him? Is it considered disrespectful to not answer if he asks me a loaded question and I sense that an argument is inevitable? Should a wife defend herself when wrongfully accused and try to explain her intentions that were misunderstood? Early on in our marriage I was determined to be a submissive wife, but became a doormat and struggled with bitterness. I guess the key would be to do everything as unto the Lord so as not to become bitter. What about when children are being wrongfully accused or spoken to harshly? Should a wife speak to her husband about it in private or keep silent altogether? I love my husband so much and want him to be admired in all ways by our children. Because we are considered ‘one flesh’, I think that is why it is such a struggle. When he says something harsh, it is as though I am saying it…
    Thank you again.

    1. Hello Josie,
      You’re describing a situation that all of us – men and women – are guilty of. We’re convicted about letting our flesh flare up. We commit to responding humbly and in the spirit. Then we find ourselves in another tense situation and we’re disappointed in the way we respond…again.

      You asked:

      How do I keep silent during those trying times, without acting as though I am ignoring him?

      I’ll share something with you that I hope can encourage you. I can look back on some situations when I was mistreating Katie. Definitely not loving her as Christ loved the church. Sometimes she has responded equally sinfully toward me, being disrespectful or rude. While I felt convicted about my sin toward Katie, I didn’t feel that bad about mistreating her…because she mistreated too. The times I look back and feel completely terrible regarding my treatment of Katie are those times I mistreated her and she responded respectfully and kindly to me. Those memories still beat me up.

      Is it considered disrespectful to not answer if he asks me a loaded question and I sense that an argument is inevitable?

      It depends on your husband. If he finds it disrespectful, then it’s disrespectful. I can understand what you’re asking, because I’m guilty of the same with Katie. Instead of remaining silent, I would recommend saying, “I don’t know how to answer you. I’m afraid no matter what I say it will be wrong and lead to a fight.”

      Should a wife defend herself when wrongfully accused and try to explain her intentions that were misunderstood?

      Definitely…but don’t repeat yourself. What I mean is, defend yourself (in a respectful way). He might have misunderstood something. Perhaps your explanation will clarify things to your husband and alleviate some of his frustrations. But if he’s intent on arguing, further explanations won’t help. They will worse then situation.

      What about when children are being wrongfully accused or spoken to harshly?

      Interestingly, the approach children should take is not much – if any different – than the approach a wife should take. There are similarities because wives are commanded to respect their husbands, and children should respect their fathers.

      Should a wife speak to her husband about it in private or keep silent altogether?

      Definitely speak to him in private. I am so thankful for the times Katie has told me, “You were exasperating the children” or “You don’t know how you were coming across” or “You were being too intense.” She was right, but I might not have seen it. Then I can go to my children and ask for their forgiveness.

      I am sorry about the way you’ve been treated and that you became a doormat. I will pray for endurance for you, and conviction for your husband. Yes, remember you’re not ultimately submitting to your husband. You’re ultimately submitting to Christ.

  10. Oh and please, do some deep research on Abigail and Nabal, as Abigail also used wisdom in dealing with her own ungodly husband. Her story has given me courage and strength to do that which is right in the sight of the Lord, over that which is evil in a marriage. There are many online blogs and sites, which talk about the story of King David, Abigail, and Nabal. Abigail is a good example of what a submissive wife should be. She is the ‘good’ wife, and one who feared the Lord.

    1. I have preached on Abigail, so the studying for that sermon (actually I think it was two sermons), constituted a considerable amount of deep research. Abigail’s actions are interesting, in that they can be interpreted two ways: she did some things behind her husband’s back – including even slandering him – but she was trying to save his life. You could say, “She did save his life,” but considering God killed Nabal, it seems she only delayed his death. In that sense it appears God meant for him to die from the beginning. Abigail only delayed the inevitable. Is it okay to “do evil” to produce good? Should Abigail have disrespected her husband and acted deceitfully, even if it was in his best interests? It’s hard to tell.

      I do have a post on Abigal serving as a dramatic type of Christ if you’re interested in reading it. I don’t discuss whether her actions toward her husband were good or bad.

  11. Thank you for this discussion about how a wife may possibly win her husband to the Lord. This is a deep subject. When a couple gets married, and they have belonged to the same religious fellowship, it is often the case that it is ‘assumed’ that both spouses are saved. A person can, talk the talk, and walk the walk, in a religious way, yet, years down the road, the ‘appearance’ of a godly life begins to ‘tell’ on itself. I am not perfect, as a wife, yet through the years, I have submitted to my husband, who has been a very harsh person to live with, yet, he also has been a good provider for the family. Yet, over the years, I found that he did not display the Holy Spirit’s response he should have, if he was a godly, Christian man. Therefore, in the past two years, I have had to ask the Lord to help me to discern whether my husband is truly a Christian or not.

    Two very good friends, helped me to realize that I needed to ask my husband what John 3:16 meant to him. My husband’s response was not what a truly born-again believer would have responded. Instead he looked at me with a kind of blank stare and then said “What do you mean?” Then he said “You can express it better than I can”. That was the end of the conversation. I later sent my husband an email, and thanked him for saying that I could express it ‘better than he could’ yet I told him that I could not express it to GOD, FOR HIM, that HE HAD TO DO THAT FOR HIMSELF. In other words, he was unable to tell me what the most simple verse of salvation in the Bible meant. There was no ‘believer’s response’, in his comment to me such as “It means that we as an unregenerate man or woman MUST accept Christ into our hearts in order to be saved”. There was no spiritual response because that is what the unbelieving spouse does not possess in their heart.

    And because of this fact, Peter said that the unbelieving spouse ‘… may be won WITHOUT THE WORD because, even if they HEAR the WORD, they will not be able to understand nor comprehend SPIRITUALLY, what you are saying to them. ‘He that is of GOD HEARS GOD’S WORD”. So, the evidence that a spouse is not saved, is the fact that they cannot possibly hear God’s word if they are NOT a believer. So, a wife can preach all she wants to to the unbelieving heart of her husband, but it won’t do any good, as he won’t be able to understand it. That is why, the Holy Spirit is the only one who can reach the unbelieving heart. As Christian’s we can ‘sow’ or ‘plant’ or ‘water’ but it is up to the individual person to accept the convicting of the Holy Spirit. So, Peter was telling the truth.

    And I have found my ‘voice’ through the Holy Spirit, and I do defend myself when my husband is harsh with me, but I do not ‘use the Word’ to defend myself, but I use wisdom of speech, and TRUTH, when I am being unfairly treated. And my husband does,listen to me, in that regard. And he will apologize when his authority, as you said, goes against God’s own authority which is over me in the Lord, first and foremost. .I am also continuing to pray for my husband’s salvation.

    1. Hello Many Years,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts! Yes, you’re describing something that’s common. People claim to be Christians, but down the road it becomes clear they aren’t. First John 2:19 comes to mind:

      “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

      I appreciate your humility in acknowledging your faults, as well as recognizing the good in your husband—he provides for your family.
      Hmm, yes, your husband’s response is concerning. John 3:16 almost explains itself. Your husband – if he was a believer – shouldn’t have trouble explaining it. Is it possible though that he simply made a statement? You can explain it better than him.
      Yes, you’re right that until your husband becomes a believer, he will not understand God’s Word. The only preaching he needs to receive is the Gospel.
      I think Peter’s main point is your actions, versus your words, will win over a husband. Here’s what he says in 1 Peter 3:1-2:

      Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.

      It’s not just that a husband can’t understand a wife preaching to him. It’s more that a wife’s conduct and godly life will preach even louder to him.

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