In this series of articles, we are looking at the difficult topic of how a Christian wife is to respond to a husband with whom she disagrees. The disagreement may be over small issues that come up from time to time, or it could point to major problems that are global and continuous. I would encourage you to read the first article to get the background and learn where we are picking up in this article. Please bear in mind that I am not a counselor, simply a sister in Christ. What I share in these articles is not addressing a wife in an abusive situation.
1 Peter 3:1-6 provides clear direction for wives when their husbands are not obediently following the Lord Jesus. These are the verses we are evaluating for help in how a wife deals with a husband whom she believes is making poor spiritual choices. “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
While verse one tells a wife what she shouldn’t do to win the husband—use her words—verses two through four explain what she is to do. The first verse surprises me because it is so terribly hard for a wife to be quiet about what she perceives to be wrong decisions her husband is making. It can seem that if a wife doesn’t speak up, nothing will change. Verses two through four are more understandable to me. They go along with the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” Most wives have already tried using their words to persuade their husbands to a different course of action simply because that is a wife’s natural bent. They also have most likely discovered the ineffectiveness of doing this and perhaps have seen that it drives a wedge in their relationships with their husbands, developing a spirit of bitterness in each of their hearts.
Here is a short testimony from a wife who was encouraged by the first Mom’s Corner in this series and has experienced the ineffectiveness of using her words to try to change her husband:
“I’ve been praying for a while on how to handle things in a right spirit when my husband is wrong. Many times, biblically, I know I’m right and he’s wrong; however, because I keep trying to tell him, even nicely and sweetly, it just makes him not want to do it more. In addition, I’m just as wrong for not being quiet. I want to learn to pray instead of forcing him to understand the way it should be.” A wife learning to be obedient to 1 Peter 3
A wife can’t be responsible for her husband and his choices. However, she is responsible for herself and what she is doing. Here in 1 Peter, we see that she is to use her behavior—her purity and her meek and quiet spirit. Remember from the last Mom’s Corner that the word “conversation” used in this verse actually means “behavior.” A meek and quiet spirit is not only a vehicle to win her husband, but it also is of great price in the sight of God. I write much that relates to having a meek and quiet spirit, such asHomeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spiritand many of the Mom’s Corners. I don’t want to repeat what is there, so I suggest if you want more information on a meek and quiet spirit, you read some of those materials.
As a sister in the Lord, I want to exhort and encourage a wife to look closely at what is going on in her life, making that her main and only focus, rather than her husband’s behavior and decisions. It is natural for a woman to be consumed with the problems she is facing, and then when her husband doesn’t change, she becomes bitter. This then causes her to have negative, controlling, condescending, disappointed attitudes and responses that are evident to her husband and to her children even if they aren’t to her. She doesn’t see that her disobedience to the Lord’s direction for her in 1 Peter 3 is no different from the disobedience her husband is exhibiting in other areas of life.
I would like to share with you a specific testimony about this from a mom who read the first article in this series. Here is what she writes:
“My husband is not saved, and I have one six-year-old child. It grieves my heart to let my husband allow my son to be disobedient. However, I know how it grieves the Holy Spirit and our Father when He sees me, His child, being disobedient. It is so hard to be quiet.
“Before reading your article, I had just had a disagreement with my husband over a child training issue. I called him back and apologized for being contentious. He said thank you, and I heard a sense of relief in his voice. Women do not really know how their words affect men. The Lord shows me how real He is through the life-giving words of Scripture. I’m encouraged by the fact that the more our society departs from His word, the more we will be able to see the beauty of His way.” Another wife learning to be obedient to 1 Peter 3
The spiritual walk of a wife who does not agree with her husband, whether it is in small areas or huge ones, is a walk of faith and spiritual growth. The ability to win a husband without a word but by her behavior—pure, meek, and quiet—will not be achieved in her own strength. It will be a work of the Lord Jesus in her life as she submits herself first and foremost to the grace and direction of God. Scripture gives us the hope of victory. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
Some wives might say, “But I have tried so many times, and I am just too weak. I end up saying something even when I know I should be quiet.” Here is encouragement for them. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
My desire is to help wives look to Scripture for their guidance in how to respond to their husbands in areas of disagreement, whether they are minor or major. May I challenge you to purpose to be quiet at those times of conflict. Pray for your husband, pray for the Lord’s strength in living out that desire of your heart, and repent if you fail. Focus on your own obedience to the Lord by being quiet and developing a meek and quiet spirit rather than dwelling on your husband’s disobedience. In the next portions of this series, I plan to finish looking at 1 Peter 1:1-6, answer some specific questions that were asked from the last article, and share more testimonies as encouragement for those who are feeling very alone in this struggle.