Man in white dress shirt, khaki pants, and suspenders holding flowers behind his back looking at a woman with a white/flowered dress who is smiling at him| Can a wife change her husband

Human love and respect are very powerful. They can inspire people. They can encourage people.  They contribute to strong marriages and relationships.

When two relatively spiritually healthy people love each other in marriage and decide to honor one another, they can seek to be a huge blessing to each other.

Many wives believe their love can do miracles.

Can a wife fix or change her husband by loving him enough?

We sometimes tell ourselves things like:

  • He just needs my love.
  • He just needs a good woman like me.
  • If I just show him enough respect, things will be okay.
  • I can help him and make up for all that has happened to him in his past.
  • He’s my project.
  • I can change him.
  • I can fix him.
  • I can make him be a better man.

The reality is, dear sisters, these things are not true!

Can I fix or change my husband?

If we try to change our guy—another word for this is, “control,“— we will make him miserable. And we will make ourselves miserable, too.

We can’t change other people.

Here’s the thing… only God can fix, heal, and change people. He does this through Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit.

Sometimes He chooses to work through people to reach those who are hurting, bound, lost, and broken. But they are simply an instrument. He is the Great Physician. He is the Power Source.

Jesus is the only Savior there is.

We sometimes exalt ourselves, thinking that we can do things that only God can do. As if we are deity.

That’s a big problem.

I am definitely not God. Neither is the institution of marriage or parenthood.

It takes the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin, salvation, a change of mind, a change of heart, and a transformed life that looks more and more like Jesus.

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

I am a terrible Holy Spirit.

If we go into marriage thinking we are going to wave a magic wand and fix all of our husband’s spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, and addictive issues—we are heading for major disappointment and heartbreak.

When I attempt to convict my husband of sin without the power of God working in me, I end up just:

  • Shaming him.
  • Trying to control him.
  • Condemning him.
  • Humiliating him.
  • Disrespecting him.
  • Nagging him.
  • Discouraging him.
  • Repelling him.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom. 5:8

Jesus died on the cross to save people from their sin and give them eternal life. I did not. He is deity. I am not. It’s important that I not get confused on this critical issue!

Our men are not our “projects.”

I know this is a very popular belief among women in our culture. But getting married to a guy and/or having children with him won’t change him or fix all of his problems automatically.

If he has a major sin issue in his life, marriage won’t magically make that disappear. It will magnify his flaws and sins and expose them. And being a dad won’t necessarily suddenly make him a godly, responsible guy.

Marriage can be wonderful when you have two people who are committed to Christ, humble, and willing to grow in the Lord on their own. Even then, of course, there are challenges.

Marriage is a sanctification tool that God can use to help make us more like Christ, IF we are willing to learn from Him.

But each of us has to make the decision for ourselves to be open to God’s voice and His leading. We can’t decide that for each other or force our way on our spouse or anyone else.

The only God-given free will I have is my own.

Jesus, my husband, and myself each have different roles.

God didn’t design a wife to fix her husband. Or a husband to fix his wife. Marriage is a holy covenant that He ordained to display the gospel. In that covenant, there are three of us, each with different roles.

Jesus

Jesus is the Savior. He is God. He convicts people of sin. He draws people to Himself. He opens people’s eyes to the truth of His Word and the power of the Gospel. He changes hearts and lives and heals people.

He empowers people to live in holiness, love, faith, and His Spirit. He is the vine and we are the branches. We need His sap flowing through us then He produces the good fruit.

Apart from Him, we can do nothing good for God or for people. (John 15:1-15)

My husband

My husband has free-will from God. He must decide for himself whether to follow Jesus or not, what his priorities will be, what he thinks, how he feels, who he wants to be, and what his personal convictions are.

My husband must decide on his own to obey God or rebel against Him. And he must decide what kind of man/husband/dad he wants to be. I can’t take on his decisions for him. And he can’t make mine for me.

When we try to make other people’s decisions for them, that is a dysfunctional/codependent relationship.

He is supposed to love his wife as Jesus loves the church and lead her the way Jesus leads His Bride. That blesses the marriage. But it is his choice to do this. His wife can’t force him to obey God.

Myself

I also have free-will from God. I decide what kind of relationship I want with Jesus. I let Him work in me or I can refuse His Spirit.

Ultimately, I am simply responsible to God for my thoughts, my motives, my priorities, my words, and my actions like every person is. I can’t force my husband to do what I want him to do. He can’t force me to do what he wants me to do.

What I can do in Christ, however, is even better than trying to control my husband.

I can set a godly example for my him where I invite Jesus to do absolutely everything He wants to do in and through me. I can totally yield my life to the Lordship of Christ in every area.

Then I can influence him for Christ. I can encourage and inspire him by my Spirit-filled life.

I am supposed to honor my husband the way the church is to honor Jesus and have a cooperative spirit with his leadership (unless he asks me to sin or go against God). And I am to treat him with respect. That blesses the marriage.

I can respectfully address my husband’s sin in biblical ways. I can reach out for outside help if we have serious issues and I am in over my head and things are very toxic.

I can pray for him and invite God to work—not to do my will, but His. I can be a teammate, a cheerleader, and an instrument in God’s hands for blessing. But then I leave the results and timing to the Lord.

Thankfully, as I learn to trust in Jesus and depend on Him rather than myself, the waiting becomes sweet and I learn to rest in Him.

Much love, dear sisters!

Related

Fear Fuels Our Need to Control

Becoming Fearless

The Cure for My Compulsion to Control

Want Salvation? Click Here!

All the baby steps God showed me for healing in Christ and breaking out of trying to control, fix, or rescue my husband and for finding genuine peace in Christ are in my book, The Peaceful Wife.

16 thoughts on “Can a Wonderful Wife Fix or Change Her Husband?

  1. I just wanted to thank you for providing such sound biblical wisdom for wives. I’ve been reading your blog for I think about 4 years now and I’ve read “The Peaceful Wife” book twice. God used you as an instrument to speak truth to my heart to reveal and prepare me for pruning the ungodly parts of myself as a wife.

    It hasn’t been easy and it has definitely been painful but this past week after almost 19 years of marriage to my husband I feel like I’ve finally completely surrendered our marriage to the Lord. Sometimes it takes the pain of God cutting away the dead branches to allow new growth to come.

    I’m thankful that I’ve had a sister in Christ, you, who unknowingly has been walking beside me encouraging me with wisdom and truth through your writing. God is using you, keep on keeping on sharing your testimony and what God has taught you because it is making a difference in women’s lives.

    I’d love to share my testimony sometime to tell you how God has worked in my heart as a wife but we’ll save that for another time. For now be encouraged April that you are Gods instrument of conveying truth to other wives and what you’re doing matters!

    1. Kirsten Engleman,

      I can’t tell you what a blessing it is to get to be a little part of God’s work in your life to heal you and draw you to Jesus. That is the biggest answer to my prayers!

      No, this journey is not easy. It can be very painful. But as we yield to God, there is fruit and we grow and He does beautiful, amazing things!

      Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story.
      I’d love to hear more of your testimony as you feel led.

      Much love, dear sister!
      Can’t wait to hug your neck one day whether here on earth or in heaven! <3

  2. Hi April,
    Thanks for highlighting this issue.
    I unfortunately have made this tragic mistake several times – not with my husband – but with friends.
    I have met messed up people and believed that with my advice, guidance, support and good example, I could change and heal them.
    Each and every time, I ended up hurt, broken, frustrated, angry and deeply wounded because the person I was trying to change just got more and more messed up and did several things to hurt and disappoint me.
    I have learned the hard way to not try to fix people who are really messed up and just pray for them.
    I learned to set boundaries and only seek close friendships with people who are sensible, emotionally stable and have their lives in order.
    I got the help I needed to break this pattern through reading books about co-dependency.
    We really don’t have the power to heal, fix or save anyone.
    That power lies in Christ and Christ alone.
    Much love,
    Nneka

    1. Nneka,

      I have done the same thing. When we believe we can change and fix people, we usually approach many people in our lives this way, especially those closest to us. Yes, it is an issue of codependency. That is where we look to others to bring us the security, purpose, identity, and inner peace that only Jesus can bring us and we expect others to idolize us because we think we can be a savior to them.

      Praise God that He has healed you and will continue to do so!

      I’m thankful He is willing to use us to love others, to bless them, to inspire them, and to shine His light. But yes, we must depend on His power to work in their lives, just like we need His power in our own. We can’t even change ourselves or open our own eyes without Him. I know I can’t.

      Much love!

  3. I read something once that said, “Try changing yourself first and you’ll quickly discover how impossible it is to change someone else.” Wise words, indeed.

    Once I was trying to instruct a Godly friend on financial matters in which I had lots of experience. She seemed as though she was deliberately refusing to take my advice. I was frustrated with her. She just wouldn’t listen! (I was certain I had the solution.)

    Soon after I was praying about the situation and the Lord clearly said “You are not her savior.” I actually asked Him to repeat that. He did. I had to sit with what He said for a couple of days until I mentally backed down from trying to help my friend. He gave me emotional distance from her problems which brought me peace and also the privilege of watching Him perform small miracles in her life. What a lesson!

  4. April (and anyone who can reply), the scripture I though of was
    1 Peter 3:1-7
    New International Version
    3 Wives, in the same way 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.

    So I thought, at first, that you were at error since the Scripture says we can win over our husbands. But I realized that my chaste behavior and submissive heart would be natural means that God can use. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit will do the work. I must obey 1 Peter 3 and trust in God’s promise to sanctify both me and my husband. Thank you for this post; I am greatly edified.
    ????

    1. Hi Christina,
      I have a testimony that may encourage you.

      My husband grew up in a communist country and he never had any religious training or instruction of any kind. I fell in love with him, married him and followed 1 Peter 3:1-7.

      After we got married, he started drinking heavily and spending a lot of his time with his irresponsible drinking buddies. I confronted him respectfully about his drinking and so-called friends several times but did not preach to him or try to convert or fix him. I focused on praying for him and treating him with the respect he deserved as my husband. I never even told my mother, siblings or best friends that he was drinking heavily and that I was struggling and stressed about it. I took all my concerns to God and to our beloved April Cassidy.

      Within less than 2 years, he stopped drinking and started listening to YouTube videos about prayer. He said that he saw that God answered my prayers and it encouraged him to start to seek God on his own. I believe that over time, the Holy Spirit will continue to work on him and draw him closer.

      God gave us a clear roadmap in 1 Peter 3:1-7. If we follow it, we are promised amazing results.

      1. Nikki,
        Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so thankful that God is working in your life and in your husband’s life. Praise God!

        He does the heavy lifting, not us. But He gives us our part to play. If there is going to be healing and salvation and regeneration for a husband, the wife will approach him in this God-prescribed way which makes it easier for him to hear God’s voice.

    2. Christina,

      When we get out of God’s way, we make it much easier for our husbands to hear God’s voice. Yes, we can do our part to be a godly example and influence. But you are so right, it is God’s power, not ours, that does the work! <3

      Thanks so much for sharing!

        1. Christina,
          You are most welcome.

          When I tried to control Greg, for over 14 years of our marriage, I tried to force him to be the godly man I knew he should be. I looked down on him. I treated him with contempt. I disrespected and steamrolled him. I took over and usurped his authority in our home, thinking I had to because I though he wouldn’t or couldn’t lead. Greg said later that during all that time, it felt like someone put static on the speaker in his heart where he used to be able to hear God’s voice and prompting. All he could hear was MY voice during that time. As I stopped those things, the static lifted and Greg could start to hear from God again.

          When I began to learn to treat him with genuine respect and honor, not manipulation, and when I trusted God to do the work in him and waited patiently, Greg said it was like someone added an amplifier to God’s voice in his heart and mind. It became much easier for him to listen and commune with God as I stepped down and stopped trying to the the Holy Spirit and let God do His job and I focused on my little part.

          Much love!

    1. Alfred Lloyd,
      I’m sure it is rather the same for men. They can love their wives. They can seek to be a godly influence. They can set a godly example. But it is up to the wives to decide how to use their own free will.

      Thanks for sharing!

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