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.
WHAT FITS BEST WILL DEPEND ON YOUR SITUATION, YOUR MARRIAGE and YOUR HUSBAND:
- 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 wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 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. 5 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, 6 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
SOME HUSBANDS EXPECT TOO MUCH:
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.
SOME WIVES WANT AFFIRMATION THAT THEIR HUSBANDS CANNOT GIVE THEM
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
WHAT DID I PERSONALLY DO?
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. I have an entire chapter on my husband’s perspective in my book, “The Peaceful Wife.”