For several months now, we have been delving into a situation that every wife will find herself facing—disagreements with her husband. Even in the best of relationships, husband and wife will not see eye to eye on everything. When the husband isn’t saved or isn’t following the Lord, the disagreements are frequent and burdensome. How a wife is biblically to respond to these problems is the theme of the Mom’s Corners since January. I will reiterate that these articles are not addressing a wife who is a victim of an abusive husband.
A practical aspect of this spiritual walk of obedience in submission to a husband would be the continual giving of a wife to prayer for herself, her husband, and her children. If a husband is to be won without a spoken word and the wife then chooses not to speak up against him, she can pray—for her husband, for his decisions, for herself, for her responses to him, and for her children. This is one way to combat the fear that wants to creep into a wife’s heart. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” That phrase “be careful for nothing” means “don’t be anxious or worried.”
Sometimes a wife is upset or unhappy about circumstances with her husband, but she allows her mind to stew about the problems rather than giving her thoughts to praying for herself and her husband. The more a wife dwells on the problems, the more likely it is that she will find herself falling into self-pity and bitterness. Each difficulty that arises with a husband is an opportunity for the wife to follow Jesus when He said, “. . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). This is not an easy thing to do. It comes through yielding to the Spirit. However, the path of submission, prayer, and blessing of a husband will bring the fruit of the Spirit to a wife’s life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). I think you will be quite amazed at the changes you will find in your heart if you choose to yield to the righteousness of responding to a husband with a meek and quiet spirit.
I believe women who are married to unbelievers can be greatly encouraged by this verse: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14). God has a purpose in this relationship—for the wife, for the husband, and for the children. Obviously, this sanctification and holiness does not refer to an unbelieving husband being saved simply because he is married to a believing wife since each person must come to salvation on his own. However, there is something spiritual—the Greek word for sanctification means set apart from evil— that is happening when a believer chooses to remain obedient to the Lord in the marriage relationship. The believer’s walk with the Lord is to have an influence on both her husband and her children.
It is important that the children see their mom’s love for Jesus Christ, the peace He gives her, and His joy in her life. They should be drawn to the Lord from what they observe in their mother’s life. However, if Mom is speaking negatively about her husband, his decisions, and his way of life, the children will react against her controlling, critical words. They will also most likely struggle with a bitter spirit toward their father if they perceive a “poor me” attitude in Mom—the kind of attitude that is portrayed through an observable martyr syndrome where Dad always has his way but Mom never does. That may be the reality of a submissive wife’s obedient walk with the Lord when her husband isn’t following the Lord as he should be. However, if her submission is done with peace and joy rather than resignation, grudging, or self-pity, the children will be shown the power of Jesus Christ in a life.
Let’s look at a specific question that I have been asked to see how we can practically apply 1 Peter 3:1-6. A mom says, “I need to know if I am undermining my husband’s authority when I take the kids out of the room when he is watching TV that I find inappropriate.” Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Scripture places the responsibility for the children being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord on the father. There may be consequences in the children’s lives for the father’s poor decisions, but the father is the one who bears the responsibility. A simple understanding of that biblical concept can relieve a wife of much worry concerning her husband’s decisions and lifestyle and how it impacts her children. Her responsibility is to follow her husband.
If a wife knows her husband wants the children to watch TV with him, then she would be undermining his leadership by taking them out of the room. However, if he is simply involved in his own entertainment and doesn’t care what the children are doing, then the mom could easily have an evening routine set in place for the children to help her with kitchen cleanup after dinner, maybe play a couple of games, take baths, brush teeth, read together, and then go to bed. That wouldn’t be undermining the husband’s authority because he doesn’t have any direction for the children for that time.
Next month I want to conclude this series. In the meantime, if you face an area of disagreement with your husband, why don’t you try being quiet about it. Pray for your heart that it will be filled with a desire to bless and encourage your husband despite any lack of unity. Pray for your husband to be following the Lord’s direction, and be careful that you don’t assume that your way is the right way. May we be wives who bring honor to Jesus Christ in our relationships with our husbands.