We recently posted Julie’s first installment of a series addressing Troubled Marriages. Here is the first post if you would like to catch-up.
Advice for Troubled Marriages Pt. 2
Complaint: My husband won’t pray with me or lead me spiritually.
There are a number of reasons a Christian man will not pray with his wife or lead her spiritually. One prominent reason is he is not as interested in spiritual things as she is. While this is not always the case, I have observed that women (whose husbands are not in ministry) tend to be more interested in spiritual things than their spouses are.
I cannot count the number of women who tell me they thought they were marrying men who were very interested in growing in their faith, but find out otherwise over time. During the dating period, he consistently led in reading God’s Word and providing spiritual leadership; but after marriage, his interest waned to the point that his Bible is dusty and unmoved off the bedside table. Some of these husbands were very involved in the church for years as Deacons or small group leaders, but now they have no interest in even attending church!
Other men were full of promises and good intentions, but sadly they did not spend the time necessary in the Bible to gain the wisdom to be able to lead and teach their wives.
Turning Our Attention to the Women
Those, in general, are the failings of the men. Ladies, there are also issues on our part in these situations, and that is where we will turn our attention now.
The Biblically Superior Wife
I have observed that there are women in such marriages who have given their husbands a clear message that they are biblically superior to him. They do this by correcting his theology, pointing out his mistakes (even in front of others), and telling him how he’s got it wrong.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. ~Romans 12:3
Does this sound familiar? If so, you may very well have a better grasp on theology than your husband, but I cannot stress how important it is to be wise and discerning when pointing out his errors. The motive is primary, and timing is equally important. It is absolutely foolish and disrespectful for a woman to blurt out his error in a group of people. If it is a major blunder, someone else might catch it. If it is not foundational, it is better to let the moment pass and discuss it in private. While it is not a church discipline issue, there is much wisdom to be gained from Matthew 18:15 in this circumstance. You can always revisit the topic the next time you are with those people or send out an email with the correction.
Honoring and showing respect to your husband is more important than being right and will preserve the unity in your marriage (Proverbs 12:4).
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:6).”
The Spiritually Superior Wife
Many years ago, a woman proclaimed to me that her husband wasn’t a Christian because he didn’t meet the checklist she had in her Bible. Unfortunately, I see a lot of self-righteousness in the spiritually superior woman. Because of this, she becomes very unpleasant to live with. She believes she knows more about the Bible (and biblical parenting) than her husband ever will, and she lets him know that by undermining nearly every attempt at spiritual headship he makes.
Her moral superiority is stifling! Her husband can never be spiritual enough. She is always “helping” him be a better Christian; and when he does instruct, or confront her on her sin or attitude, she complains and challenges him. I see this happening all the time! Her pride will not allow her to even consider what her husband is pointing out about her sinfulness. She almost has a “How dare you?” attitude toward any correction he offers. Sadly, in these cases eventually he will just give up and avoid her. She will describe him as angry and distant, and she won’t understand why. She won’t recognize that her constant correction and superior attitude has driven him away.
…a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain (Proverbs 19:13b).
The spiritually superior wife (and mom) is always wagging her finger at the music others want to listen to. She doesn’t want the television on or leaves the room when her husband puts a movie on because she disagrees with the content. She lectures her husband on cultural issues, won’t go places she has determined are not Christian enough, and has a Scripture ready for every situation she doesn’t like or agree with. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe our lives are to be governed by the Word of God; it’s the attitude that is problematic. Such a critical spirit is divisive and off-putting. Christian wife, do you find anything here you can relate to?
Friends, this is often pure self-righteous pride, and you must repent of it! You are no one’s Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:3-5). If your marriage is in bad shape and you find your thoughts echoed above, examine yourself for pride, an unsubmissive heart, rebellion, and contention. You must repent of these evil heart attitudes that are poisoning you and your marriage. Spend time in God’s Word and study the numerous warnings about being prideful. All your knowledge will be of little use if God opposes you because of your prideful heart (James 4:6, Psalm 138:6; Proverbs 3:34; Proverbs 29:23; Matthew 23:12; Luke 1:52; 1 Peter 5:5). There are few things more grievous to God than the sin of pride.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. ~Psalm 51:10