What if my husband wants to do something I don’t approve of? It depends on what the issue is how I might best handle it in a way that honors the Lord and my husband.
Of course, it all begins with a right relationship with Jesus on my end, prayer, and my desire to yield my life to God’s wisdom and His counsel. Then He provides the Holy Spirit to help me navigate each situation well.
SMALL MARRIAGE CONFLICTS
Is the issue really a big deal?
If it is not, then it may not be worth addressing it at all. If he is going to spend $20 over what my preference would be and we are not destitute, I wouldn’t need to say anything. I can give him the freedom to make his own choices.
If I act like he’s 5 and I’m his irritated mom, telling him what he can spend to the penny, I am going to repel him. I know I wouldn’t like to be treated that way, either. Everyone needs some personal freedom, even in marriage, or they begin to feel smothered.
Is it a matter of personal preferences or personal convictions?
I probably don’t need to say anything either. If he has a different organizational system than I do for his stuff, I can just acknowledge to myself that we are different. Different isn’t automatically wrong.
If he likes wearing a certain brand of clothing, combs his hair a certain way, or leaves a few minutes later than I would, maybe it’s not an actual problem.
If he doesn’t read his Bible as much as I think he should, or he chooses to listen to some 80s soft rock music and I prefer Christian music, these are matters of personal convictions. It isn’t my place to ram my personal convictions down another person’s throat.
Practical examples (with a smile and a friendly tone of voice):
If I have a big preference with a small issue, I can say something like:
- “I’d really like to leave by 7:35 so we can get to the appointment a few minutes early, if possible.”
- “You always look handsome, but I have to admit, I love it when you wear your hair like this, it makes me swoon!”
What if something truly grates on my nerves or annoys me?
I could respectfully say, “I would really love it if you had a chance to do X, instead.” Or “It would mean so much to me if we could do Y.” I can make respectful suggestions or requests. But I want to avoid making demands or being controlling.
Practical examples for dealing with annoying things:
- “Honey, I noticed the dishes aren’t always getting completely clean in the dishwasher. I wonder if maybe putting them in this way might help?”
- “Hey, if you could please take your shoes off at the front door, I would appreciate it so much. Thanks!”
MEDIUM-SIZED MARRIAGE CONFLICTS
If it is a matter of different priorities or perspectives, then I could say what I would like. I could also seek to understand his perspective and his thinking. It is likely that my husband can see things I can’t see. It may be that his idea is really valuable.
So I don’t want to automatically dismiss anything just because it isn’t what I originally thought was the best option.
Ideally, we could have a discussion where we both talk about our thoughts, our perspectives, our priorities, and what we each think is best. I can invite my husband to help find a solution to my concerns. We may find that we come up with a better solution together than we would have individually.
If my husband likes to go to bed with the TV on and it keeps me up, it’s okay for me to say, “I know you fall asleep best with the TV on. But it keeps me up and then I don’t feel rested the next day. What could we do so we can both get more rest?”
Practical examples of handling this type of disagreement in marriage:
- “May I share my thoughts on this idea, please?”
- “I would rather we not do this. Could we do that instead, please?”
- “I’m not really excited about this idea. Is there another option we could consider?”
- “Would you please tell me about your thought process, I’d like to understand your perspective better.”
- “I like this part of the idea, but I wonder if this might be an option we could also consider?”
- “I would love it if we could spend some time together this week and cuddle.”
- “It would mean so much to me if we could make X a bigger priority this month.”
- “I would like to tithe 10% of our income every month.”
BIG MARRIAGE CONFLICTS
If my husband wants to lead in a direction I don’t like, but it is not sinful, and he really believes it is the best way to go on a major decision—what can I do if I disagree as a godly wife?
The Bible says that the husband is to be the leader of the home. Not a popular idea today, to say the least. But I tried leading in our home for over 14 years and we both ended up quite miserable.
The concepts of biblical submission and spiritual authority are HUGE concepts that I can’t delve into in this post. They tend to be widely misunderstood in dangerous ways. So please check out the highlighted articles (as well as the ones below) if these ideas are new to you.
The basic gist is that the husband is in the driver’s seat and the wife is the copilot. If I try to grab the wheel, unless there is an emergency, I am probably going to wreck the car. I may be a good driver, but only one person can drive the car at one time.
I love the military concept of submitting under protest. I can respectfully share that I think this is not a good idea (identifying my concerns), but that I will honor his leadership and cooperate with him if he truly believes that is best for the family.
I may tell him, “I strongly disagree with this decision. I will honor your leadership, but I am submitting under protest.”
A response like this will give any decent man reason to pause and reconsider his planned course of action. He may not change his mind, but I have given him my valuable input and warning. Then I pray and ask God to lead my husband according to His will, not mine.
Note: There are times when I can’t cooperate with my husband’s leading or submit (honor your husband’s leadership).
Practical examples of submitting under protest:
- “Babe, I don’t want to move to Texas. I feel very strongly we should stay here. I want to be close to our families. I love the church we have and the kids’ friends and schools. But I realize you are the God-given leader of our home. So I trust you to do what you believe God is calling you to do and I will support your decision if this is what you think is best.”
- “Honey, I don’t want the kids to go to this school. Here are all of my concerns— X, Y, and Z. I feel very strongly it would be best for them to go to that school. If this is what you believe is truly best, I will honor your decision. But I want you to know I am submitting under protest.”
Dealing with a husband’s sin issues
If it is a sin issue, that’s a problem. If he wants to get drunk with friends, look at porn, involve me in a threesome, have an affair with another woman, do something illegal, etc… I do need to speak up.
I’ll want to follow Scripture’s instructions for dealing with sin against me. I address sin in my life first (unless the sin is so severe I need to address it right away). Then I go to my husband privately and respectfully address the issue.
If he doesn’t repent, I bring along 1-2 trusted, godly Christians (a pastor, counselor, mentors) for them to address the issue.
Then, if he is a believer and he still doesn’t repent of clear sin, the church leaders are supposed to take it before the church (although that often doesn’t happen in many churches today except maybe with staff members, this is the biblical process).
- Matt. 7:1-5
- Matt. 18:15-17
- Gal. 6:1-2
Practical examples of dealing with a husband’s sin:
- “Honey, I know you’re a grown man and I respect that. I realize I don’t get to make your decisions for you. But I want to trust you to lead our household. I want to respect you as a man and respect your character. If you go through with this (something God calls sin, not just my own personal convictions), my ability to trust and respect you will be shaken greatly. You’re a better man than this. Please do what is right.”
- “Babe, when you look at pornography, it hurts me deeply. And it dishonors the Lord. I want our marriage to be strong. This stuff is not okay. What can I do to help you fight this thing?”
- “Honey, I can’t lie on our taxes. That’s not going to work. Let’s be honest and put down the real numbers, please. Then I can hold you in honor and respect in my mind and heart and trust your leadership.”
We, wives, do have a voice. We are to use our godly influence and we aren’t to be doormats who say nothing, contribute nothing, and add nothing to the marriage relationship.
But we are not to force our way or try to make our husbands do what we want. We are not to control them or usurp their God-given leadership position. They are in the driver’s seat, by God’s design, so unless there is an emergency, we don’t grab the wheel and fight them over things.
This can be a delicate balance. Not being passive and not being dominating. It requires the power, wisdom, and discernment of the Holy Spirit for each of us to do this in a way that honors the Lord and our husbands.
Sometimes, believe it or not, God uses our husbands to lead us even when we don’t agree with them initially. Like in this situation with our son’s schooling decision where Greg and I disagreed. Just because I don’t agree with my husband at the moment doesn’t mean I am automatically right about what we should do or what God desires us to do.
Thankfully, as we submit ourselves first to Jesus as Lord of all in our lives and as we die to our old sinful selves, He can empower us to be the women and wives He calls us to be and He can use us to bring great glory to His Name. He can also use us in powerful ways to influence our husbands for good and to avoid causing them harm.
Keep in mind, if your husband doesn’t know Christ as Savior and Lord, that is the most important thing. God may use your cooperative, respectful spirit to help draw him to Christ.
If your husband does know the Lord, the way you handle disagreements is still a powerful witness and testimony of your faith in Christ. You have the opportunity to set an amazing godly example for your husband. Not with words, but by your attitude, willingness to honor him, and most of all your submission to Christ. Your good example may inspire and encourage him to want to be a stronger believer and better leader.
How to Influence an Unbelieving Husband for Christ – Use the same approach for believing husbands, too.
How to Encourage Your Husband to Value Your Influence
Confronting Our Husbands About Their Sin
How Can You Tell If Someone Is Controlling?
Biblical Submission Is Not Passivity
Christian Submission—Is It Only for Women?
Hi April! Long time! My question is, how do you behave towards your husband after you submit under protest? For example, with the Texas move example. After you submit under protest, what if he wants you excited, involved with the move, and helping him? He obviously knows the wife doesn’t want it, so how should she act? BTW this came at. Perfect time.
My goal would be, “Lord, I trust You. If this is of You, then I want to embrace it. Let me be the wife, helpmeet, and mom You call me to be and let me set a godly example of joy, peace, and willingness to submit to anything that is Your will. If it is not of You, I pray you will redirect my husband and guide him into Your will. Ultimately, only You know best. I don’t have the whole picture. My husband doesn’t either. So I am depending on Your design and seeking to follow Your authority structure. I don’t want to fight anything that is of You. Help me honor You and my husband with my attitude and spirit of cooperation. Be glorified in this!”
I can even involve the kids and say, “Okay, kids! This is what we’re doing. It’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to see what God will do.”
I do believe that a wife can seek to look for God to work and move and can support her husband in a situation like this.
PS, I have had experiences like this. I decided to trust God to lead me and our children through Greg even though I did not agree at the time.
Here are two examples:
A Touch School Decision for Our Son in 3rd Grade
A Real Life Example of Submission
Thank you. So as wives we can still be helpful and positive even if we do not agree.
Yes, absolutely. We communicate that we do not agree respectfully. Then we seek to support our husband just like we would get on board and try to have a good attitude at work with a new direction the company was taking that we may not agree with.
The only time we can’t do that is when our husband is trying to lead us into sin. Then we can’t cooperate. Or if our husband is not in his right mind and is trying to lead the family into something clearly dangerous.
When Would I Not Submit to My Husband?
I’m assuming all this would still apply if a wife thought maybe her husband’s decisions were selfish? As in maybe he wanted to buy something expensive that she did not agree with or he wanted to fulfill a dream that maybe wasn’t his wife’s dream? Are wives still called to submit as long as it isn’t a sin?
Wives are called to submit if something isn’t a sin, generally. You don’t have to agree with it, though. It is okay to respectfully say, “I am not excited about this idea. I would like for us to save this money.” Or, “I know you are really excited about this, but I worry about spending this much money and I feel it would be wise if we do this instead.”
If he is still determined to do it, a wife can say something like, “I don’t agree with this. But I do respect that you are the head of our home and you will ultimately be the one accountable to God. I will submit under protest out of respect for God’s design for marriage. But I feel pretty sad about this idea.”
I have a number of posts about submission you may search.
And, of course, you can pray, “Lord, I think this is a bad idea. I don’t want us to spend this money on this thing that seems like an indulgence. I want to be good stewards of the money and resources you have given to us. Help me see if I need to change my attitude or please change my husband’s heart and course if this is not honoring to You.”
If it is a crazy amount of money, you may even want to consider reaching out for outside help. Especially if you believe your husband is not thinking clearly or not in his right mind.
Praying for wisdom for you.
Check out this post, “My Husband Wants to Go Where??!?!”
Invite God to use the situation for His glory. Invite Him to speak to your husband’s heart and for your husband to be receptive. And invite Him to check your motives, as well.
Thank you April. He’s in his right mind. It’s more or less about differences we have. It’s more about a difference in convictions and the way we want money invested. He wants to buy some land as an investment and for hunting. He says it’s a dream of his for himself and for his family. I have different dreams but I hold on to them loosely. He also wants to spend money on expensive hunting trips. He says he’s not willing to part with these things in life. Financially we are secure and he doesn’t put us in financial trouble. He evens supports my dream to stay at home with the kids.
It sounds like he is taking really good care of you and your family. Who knows if God may use this investment to be a blessing one day in ways you can’t foresee?
It’s smart to hold onto dreams loosely.
I also vote to approach him without bitterness or resentment, even if you do disagree. I believe you can trust God to do something beautiful with this as you honor your husband’s leading and show appreciation for his dream.
My husband handles all the investments for us now. He asks me my opinion. But he knows MUCH more about it than I do. He has studied that stuff for a few years. I trust him completely. He does things differently than I would. I would be way more cautious. But I am okay with him doing what he thinks is best. I also believe God will lead him and will provide for us whatever may happen.
Who knows? Maybe the land he wants to buy will be worth a lot more one day? Or a huge blessing to your family?
We also agreed he would be in charge of investments. Land could be a great investment. He also wants it for our family, to spend time hunting with the kids when they are older and making memories.
That actually sounds like it could be amazing! <3 A beautiful dream.
What if your husband is doing something that is damaging to his health? Like: eating horribly or drinking too much alcohol? How do you approach this without sounding like a “mommy” to him or nagging when he is a grown adult-knowing he should make better choices? Thank you!
Those are great questions!
Check out these posts:
“I Wish My Husband Would Quit Smoking Cigarettes” a guest post
Dealing with a Husband’s Diet and Medical Issues Respectfully
17 Tips to Ask for What You Would Like Respectfully
How Can You Tell If a Person Is Being Controlling?
And if a husband is dealing with an alcohol addiction, I would encourage wives to contact Celebrate Recovery or AA for spouse support groups.
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