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To Tell… or Not to Tell?

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Deciding whether or not to tell your husband about what God is teaching you about respect, biblical submission and becoming a godly wife is an important, and sometimes tricky, decision.

My prayer is that you will hear God’s voice and obey Him.  I also pray that every word I share might be in total alignment with God’s Word  – but I ask you to always compare anything I say or anything anyone else says with the Bible before you accept it.  If you see me say something that does not line up with God’s Word, please call me out on it.  I only want to exalt Christ – I don’t ever want to detract from His wisdom and His Word.


  1. If your husband is far from God, then I Peter 3:1-6 is your primary directive from God about how to handle this situation.

3 Wives, in the same way (as all believers are to submit to government authorities and believing slaves are to submit to their masters in Peter 2) submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wiveswhen they see the purity and reverence of your lives.Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet (stilled or peaceful) spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

If your husband “does not believe the Word” or “is disobedient to the Word” then

God tells you very plainly –

WORDS about spiritual things won’t work on your husband right now.

Avoid talking about spiritual things to your husband because that is NOT the way to influence him for Christ.  Husbands who are far from God don’t need our lecturing, nagging, preaching and verbal beating over the head – in fact, the more we try to verbally drag them and force them towards God and towards us, the more they will run the other way!

Our husbands need to see our behavior, our attitude, our respect and the way we live holy lives in front of them constantly in the power of God’s Spirit.  The thing that will most profoundly draw a husband to Jesus is his wife’s cooperative attitude with his God-given authority (if he is not asking her to blatantly sin), her genuine respect for him as a man (of anything that is good in him), and the power of the fruit of the Spirit in her life.

I have seen many wives decide to tell their unbelieving husband about doing The Respect Dare or about what they are learning – but the problem is that an unsaved husband doesn’t have spiritual wisdom to discern the things of God.  He will not understand what you are doing or why.  It may even turn him off to God.

An unsaved husband cannot understand the concepts of dying to self, picking up our cross daily to kill our own pride and sinful nature and to live in the new self in Christ.  That is foolishness to an unbelieving man.  (These things also apply to extended family members.  Other people may not support what you are doing, that is going to have to be ok.  Some of them may even think you have joined a “cult” because you want to respect your husband and allow him to lead you and you aren’t doing what they want you to do anymore.  It can be tough! But you have a covenant with your husband, not with your parents, siblings or friends.  Do Not Expect Outside Support.)

What WILL impact him is when his wife:

  • forgives freely
  • extends grace and mercy that is completely undeserved by him
  • believes in him and sees the best in him
  • desires to trust him or to learn to trust him
  • has supernatural peace instead of being freaked out and anxious all the time
  • has faith in the sovereignty of God to lead her through her husband, though he is a sinner
  • repays evil with good
  • approaches him with respect
  • sees and focuses on the good things that are in him
  • loves him with a I Corinthians, unconditional agape love and respects him just because he is her husband and she wants to honor God
  • is vulnerable, clearly asking for what she needs and clearly saying how she feels and what she wants without any manipulation
  • seeks to respect him and honor him only to please God NOT to change him or control him (SUPER IMPORTANT POINT!)
  • appreciates the things he does for her
  • learns to understand his masculine heart and needs
  • is able to empathize with him
  • acts like she is on his team instead of like she (and God) are his enemies
  • builds him up with her words and actions
  • is joyfully available to him sexually (unless he is involved in infidelity or something equally significant and is unrepentant)
  • understands he may need time to think about his decisions – doesn’t pressure or rush him
  • assumes he has good motives towards her, not evil motives


Sometimes, when a wife shares all that she is learning – a husband will suddenly hold her to perfection in the whole respect and biblical submission thing.   Respect is a concept that comes easily to most men, and they don’t understand the spiritual and emotional contortion that is involved in unlearning decades of “the wrong way of thinking, speaking and acting” and learning all of God’s ways.  Most husbands do not realize all that is involved in tearing out the sinful nature, dying to self, recognizing and repenting of all idols, pride and sin, and what is involved in God completely renovating our hearts and regenerating our spirits.  It is not usually an instant thing.  This is the process of sanctification.  Some husbands get really upset once their wives begin to learn about respect and biblical submission and talk about it – and then mess up.  In fact, sometimes they get MORE upset about disrespect and controlling behavior once their wives have repented and said they want to be respectful than they did before.

The thing is, especially at first, you will stumble sometimes.  You will fall and then you have to get back up, repent to God and your husband, learn what you can from your mistake and keep going towards the goal of becoming the woman God wants you to be.  Ideally, a husband would offer plenty of grace and encouragement to his wife as she struggles to grow and learn.  But not all husbands are at that place spiritually to be able to extend mercy and grace yet.


It is REALLY hard not to want your husband to notice all you are doing.  You will want him to tell you that you are doing so much better when you don’t ream him out for something that you usually would have given him a lot of grief about.

Keep in mind you are seeking to please Christ.  That is THE GOAL.  You are not trying to change your husband or make him love you more or feel more loved yourself.  This is a hard thing to let go of  – wanting our husband to notice what we are doing and praise us.  But it is something we have to let go during this process of dying to self.

I have a post about it linked at the bottom of this post.

IN THE BEGINNING, WE MUST USE  GREAT CAUTION IN WHAT WE SAY – we may still not have a handle on what is disrespectful/respectful yet.

It is VERY possible, maybe even probable, that in the beginning of this journey, a wife might inadvertently explain what she is learning in a way that is disrespectful!  A wife who is just learning about respect and disrespect, is prone to say things like:

  • So, I’m learning that I have to respect you even though you don’t deserve it at all.
  • God wants me to follow you as the leader in this marriage even though you make a lot of really bad decisions.
  • I’m supposed to not say anything when I think you are doing something really stupid.
  • I actually don’t respect you, but I want you to love me more, so I am going to try to act like I respect you from now on, but it is going to be really hard for me to do that.

I hope that you are able to see that these kinds of comments are HUGE, HUGE disrespect and that if a wife says something like this, she just caused MASSIVE damage to her intimacy with her husband and the unity of the marriage.  I really don’t want to see that happen!

IF YOU AREN’T SURE IF WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY/WRITE IS RESPECTFUL, CHECK WITH ME IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO!   Leave me a comment.  I will be glad to look at what you want to say and do my best to check it for inadvertent disrespect or control.  Ultimately, what matters most is not my opinion – but God’s wisdom.

2. If your husband is very close to Christ – you may have more freedom to share details of this journey.

  • The closer your husband is to God, the more his godly leadership can help you on this road
  • The closer your husband is to God, the more you can probably tell him and he may be able to help guide you through some of these difficult areas


I apologized for my disrespect as soon as I was aware of it in December of 2008.  And as I learned more and more things I had done that were controlling and disrespectful, I apologized.  But I did not go into detail about all the horrible things I used to think about my husband and how hard it was to learn to drop the criticizing, negativity, lecturing, bossing, insulting, etc…  I also did not talk about how foreign and awkward it felt to try to say positive things.  I didn’t talk about all the negative things I wanted to say as I was learning to stop the disrespect.  I apologized when I messed up.  I got back up and sought God with all my heart.   Much later, I talked with my husband about what was happening and what God was teaching me – as I began to teach other women – at his request.

But my husband only saw the changes on the outside – he didn’t know what was happening on the inside.  For his perspective, check out this post – When She Surrendered.


The Frustrating Quiet Phase

I Want Some Affirmation from My Husband!

Taking the First Brave Step Toward Peace

Peacefulwife Videos on Youtube

God Understands Why Men Don’t Respond to Words

25 thoughts on “To Tell… or Not to Tell?

  1. Peacefulwife, these are difficult concepts which confound many souls, but I believe that you have it right. Respect is the road to travel, as you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Peace & blèssings unto you and yours!

  2. Good morning, April. Thank you for this timely article. I am just starting to examine myself in this area. This is a good reminder for me that I need to talk to God more than my husband as I navigate and establish this respectful vibe in our home.
    love, Joy

  3. Hi, this is beautiful and makes so much sense. Unfortunately I am learning these things too late. My heart and family are incredibly broken. Thank you for sharing this important information. It is so needed. Please pray for me and my family. God bless you.

  4. As always I can see what great thought you put into your articles. Looking at the twists and turns that can take place when a wife admits to her husband about submitting to her husband. Your blog is a great resource for others!

    All I can do is add what if felt like to hear and see my wife in her journey along this path.

    When my bride came to me and said I was the head of the household and submitted to my decision there were a lot of things that I had to get use to.

    First overcoming the “ego” rush. Obviously hearing something like this you feel a big boost in your self esteem.
    However this was tempered quickly when I realized what a great responsibility it truly was.

    If a wife is serious in this path and the husband takes it seriously from my experience it can encourage the husband to want to be a better husband/provider/Christian.

    I look at how it’s my first and foremost job to be the best at those three “jobs” as I possibly could. I found myself looking at her in a different way. I became more protective, more loving, more respectful. I took a longer look at things like the condition of our home and our finances and how I could be a better provider. Most importantly I looked at what kind of Christian I was. I found better things to involve myself in that strengthened my belief and love of God so that I could lead us in a better way.

    1. Wayne,
      Thank you for sharing your story! I believe this will bless many wives. 🙂 I think this was a similar experience for my husband. Well, he was confused at first, because I didn’t tell him everything I was doing. But then he said that taking on more responsibility was really “neat” and that he began to feel a powerful drive to become more godly, more selfless, more loving, more protective and a stronger leader.

      God truly knows best!

    2. Wayne,
      May I please share your story in my book? I can share it anonymously, but I would love to give a husband’s first hand account of how his wife’s respect and biblical submission impacted him. 🙂

  5. I found that talking about it made it worse. Men watch their wives. And for me, my change and growth is not simple, linear and static. Often times it was rolled into layers of healing/growth – healing/growth. It took time to grow-into the maturity. I made the mistake of apologizing for not respecting him. But then was judged very harshly if I didn’t respect him perfectly (the way he thought – yes this was his issue and he was unsaved at the time). Still, if I had it as a ‘do-over’ I would choose to say nothing with my words and let all the speaking be done with my heart through my actions.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Robyn. I have definitely seen that happen a lot – where husbands expect immediate perfection once a wife apologizes. But this is definitely not a linear growth kind of journey. I think you have a lot of wisdom to share here. Thank you!

  6. Thanks so much April. I have apologized and he said that he would contact me when he is ready. So I am doing just that. Unless it is dealing with our daughter. I have been asking God to heal me and show me what I need to work on in myself to make my marriage work. I believe my husband is really finished and unless there is divine intervention and soon there will be a divorce.

  7. Jolene,
    I am glad you have apologized. Now time to get rid of all the disrespect and replace it with respect. Not to change your husband, but to honor Christ.

  8. April, another wonderful post! I, too, struggled with whether or not to tell my husband what I was up to and was consistently reminded of Peter 3. So i zipped my lips, prayed often, devoured as much information as I could and let my actions do the talking. It was hard, very hard, at first – learning to bite my tongue (OUCH!) when what I really wanted to do was scream and yell because he wasn’t doing it the way I WANTED him to.

    While I didn’t speak to him about what I was doing, I didn’t hide any books I might have been reading (but I didn’t purposely shove them under his nose either)….I didn’t hide my Bible or my notes….I didn’t hide that I was attending a ladies’ Bible study and often left my materials sitting out. So, I don’t like to think that he was clueless to what I was up to – I just never said anything.

    I remember one night, while I was reading Love & Respect, he started asking me questions. Nothing serious…just some thoughts he had and he also asked me what the book was about. I was sure to keep my opinions to myself and only read from the jacket of the book to explain what it was about. Our marriage has since come a very long way…he’s become comfortable with sharing how his work day went…how frustrated he is about this, that, or the other…and telling me when he’s unhappy about something.

    Before he used to keep it all bottled up inside and always smiled and said everything was okay. What a relief to know that he’s sharing with me! In response, I try always to think about what God’s Word tells us and respond with that….then I might add my own thoughts or ideas on how to resolve, but making sure I ask him if he’d like my help in finding a solution. If he says, “No” to me I don’t get upset and bent out of shape anymore…I add it to my mental prayer list and put a smile on my face. 🙂 Thank you for a wonderful message, April!

    1. KarenE,

      It is so wonderful to hear from you!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE what God is doing in your heart. You are a huge blessing to me. 🙂 Thank you for sharing! I know this will bless many other wives. 🙂

  9. Wonderful post April! This is such a slippery slope for both husbands and wives, and it seems you and Greg have helped many in navigating it .I would like to offer some encouragement to Jolene, and MD if I could.I would like to tell them that unless their husbands have passed from this life, it is never too late.

    My wife and I were separated for five years, and God restored our marriage. During this time my wife felt that I was far from God and by my actions she was right.I was in deep despair, and decided since I couldn’t bring glory to God, I would choose not to name myself as a Christian. And frankly, I did not trust her to know my heart, as I felt she would simply use it to manipulate me to my own hurt.I would encourage you both to understand our God is a God that nothing is impossible to. He delights in taking what is broken and making it whole again.

    1. Ted thanks for the encouragement but he is starting the divorce in a few weeks and is adamant that he is through with this chapter of his life. He feels that he has never made me happy and has wanted out of the marriage for at least 5 years. So I’m not sure if he will even let god back in to his heart!!

      1. Jolene,

        As you become more and more the woman of God’s dreams, God is able to draw your husband to Himself and to you. Of course, there are no guarantees. And the timing will be in God’s hands. But thankfully, we serve a God of miracles. 🙂

        Much love to you!

  10. Jolene, you must understand that if things have been bad for a very long time between the two of you, he is most likely telling you absolutely nothing of what’s going on inside of him.He is most likely speaking from his pain, and if he feels like he can’t make you happy,most likely he has lost hope.He is probably not telling you anything of his relationship with God, for fear you may use it against him.My advice is assume nothing, change what you can , and leave the rest to God.I must insist that he is able to do more than we can ask, or even think.

    1. Ted I didn’t think things were that bad. I know you all are right but it is hard to leave it go as I love him so much. I am trying to change me and it is very hard, as my issues are ingrained and are hard to let go of.

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