How do I still respect my husband when I feel like his lack of faith negatively affected the plans God has for our family? Don’t get me wrong; my husband is a strong believer. And there’s not a big sin issue. I just feel like he isn’t believing and relying on God in several areas where we really need it.
I know exactly what you mean. I used to get frustrated with Dennis for not leading our family in what I thought was the right way. I believed we couldn’t be a truly Christian family if we didn’t have sit down family times regularly. In the moment, I felt we were failing. I was concerned our kids wouldn’t grow up to know God if we didn’t teach the right way. When I questioned him he would reply, “There’s more than one way to lead and teach.” I felt dismissed.
But over time here’s what I learned. It wasn’t that he wasn’t leading our family. It’s that he wasn’t leading the way I thought he should.
In our many very different ways of approaching family situations, I came to realize it’s often about mismatched expectations. So I have to tell you, you’re always going to run into those times where your husband isn’t believing as you want him to.
Which begs the question, are you always believing God as you should? Ouch!
Yes, there are many times where our husbands could have acted differently, responded more lovingly, considered reaching the neighbors more, been more patient with your mother or with his mother. And other times, even though your husband might not be outright sinning, there are many areas where his approach to life isn’t yet refined. It might be that his way of handling conflict, relationships, money, the children—or all of the above—are skills that must be grown and developed. He’s not perfect!
Think about it. When you’re learning to ride a bike, what do you do? Fall. A lot!
Well most husbands have never done this husband job before. Especially with you! Remember he’s still learning. He has never been your husband at this season of life before. He has never been a dad to these kids at these ages before. He was never responsible for another person 24/7/365 until he married you.
I know you’re thinking: being a wife is hard! Being a mother is hard. Yes. So also, being a husband is hard. Any man who is a believer in Jesus and has any sensitivity to the Holy Spirit feels a sense of responsibility. The God-given burden our husbands have for shepherding the entire family is a heavy one, whether they ever admit it or not.
So let’s start by acknowledging that he has a lot to live up to. There’s no way he could get it all right the first time around. He is practicing every day in his interaction with you and your children.
When we see his sin, or what we perceive as lack of faith, or even just his differences some days, it’s easy to forget that we are both growing into the person God wants us to be. Yes, even us women don’t have it all down yet either. So rather than focus on the growing pains, let’s remember that God isn’t finished yet. What if you, as his wife, choose instead to give thanks that your husband is going through the refining process. And give thanks that God is refining you while he refines your husband.
A dear friend of mine often says, “Everyone has the potential to become who God wants that person to be if we continue to give grace and wait for God’s timing” (Susan Yates).
When you feel like your husband isn’t carrying his weight, you have a choice to make. You can complain about him and criticize him for his mistake. You can pray for wisdom to know the right time and right way to talk to him about it. Or you can let it go and continue believing in the man you married. I Peter 4:8 says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Sometimes the best response is to say nothing and trust the Holy Spirit to whisper to him about the issue.
Dennis said for years that the very best gift I’ve ever given him is my belief in him. As a woman I still don’t fully understand the significance of this, but I believe him that this is true. I’ve learned that when I choose to believe in my husband, I’m really choosing to believe in God. I’m stating that I believe in God’s sovereignty to change Dennis’ life and heart.
Here’s a thought for you to ponder. My husband can’t change his own life and your husband can’t either. Yes he can change behaviors by choice, but true life change is a work of the heart and only God has that power.
I can’t change Dennis to get the results I want from him. And I’m glad. My changes would have produced either deformity or a robot! Neither would have been very fun! Every disappointment or clash of styles reminds us that God can and will continue to work in my husband to transform him into the likeness of Christ. And He is doing the same for me too, thankfully.
Will you choose to believe the work of our transformational Savior and lean into the refining process?
Here are a few ways to do this in the day to day.
- Give thanks for the way God made your husband. Acknowledge that God is the creator of your man and the author of your marriage.
- Give thanks for the opportunity for growth even though it doesn’t feel like a wanted opportunity.
- Find something your husband is doing right and praise him for that. Don’t stop at just one thing. Find many things he’s doing right and tell him about them.
- Voice your belief in your husband. Tell him that you know he can land the job, support your family, disciple your children, love you well, whatever. Your belief in him is half the battle.
- Pray for your husband to respond to God’s work in obedience and pray that you can honor him through the process.
As you give thanks, praise and pray remember that both of you are God’s work in progress. Neither of you will ever ‘arrive’ at a perfected faith this side of heaven’s gates. Accepting that truth is part of becoming a grace-filled woman.