That day at the altar, he stood tall and handsome, a smile lighting up his entire face. As you stepped up to the altar and took his hand, every dream of marriage flashed before your eyes: The couple’s Bible studies at the dining room table with coffee in hand, the late-night theology discussions, love notes and reminders stuck on your bathroom mirror, and being able to come to him with anything knowing he’ll respond with wisdom and love.
Maybe that’s the reality during the honeymoon, and even for a time afterward. Until one day he loses his temper and you have an argument. And his job forces him to leave before you can study the Bible together. And he’d rather scroll through his phone than discuss theology with you. And you never do receive those cute notes you wished for.
As our expectations and dreams are slowly torn to bits and tossed to the wind, we can feel discouraged, angry, hopeless, bitter, and heartbroken. What do we do with these feelings? How do we bring back that love we had at the altar?
Your husband is not Christ.
Our favorite Christian romance stories and marriage books often set us up for such expectations. They tell stories of men who are strong spiritual leaders in their homes and who guide their wives to holiness through long walks on the beach, foot washing, Bible studies, and encouraging love letters. And while it is a godly desire for your husband to be a spiritual leader, I think sometimes we forget we’re marrying a sinner. He will not lead you perfectly, he will not love you perfectly, and he will not care for you perfectly. He is a sinner and will inevitably sin.
Though your husband is called to love you as Christ has loved the Church, he will never do that perfectly. Thankfully, Christ already did. Christ loves you perfectly, to the point of dying for your sins (John 3:16). He has not and will not fail you. He will lead you into holiness far better than your husband will as He sanctifies you to completion (Phil. 1:6). And none of this will ever change about Christ because he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Heb. 13:8).
I am not asking you to expect the worst of your husband. But remember he is not your savior. Jesus alone is your Savior, and He is the only One who could ever fill that position. Before considering all the ways your husband has failed, remember that he is a sinner just like you who needs the Savior to sanctify him. When you start viewing your husband in this way, it will be much easier to show him grace.
Your husband is not her husband.
Another temptation we may be faced with is comparing our husbands to someone else’s. Why can’t he be more like my sister’s husband—look at how he gently leads my sister and their children. Or why can’t he be more like my friend’s husband, who spends over an hour a day in the Word of God and is always teaching them about what he’s learning?
The truth is that your husband will never be their husbands. He is your husband, and he is unique from them in many ways—his job, his personality, his work ethic, his way of learning, his way of communicating, and the like. And we as wives can rejoice in those good differences and seek to bring them out in our husbands, not make him into someone else.
My husband doesn’t have a lot of time. He goes to work early in the morning, putting in long days. And he works a physical job, so when he does get home, he’s tired. Not only that, he spends all his free evenings doing home renovations to prepare for our baby.
If I compare my husband’s Bible study time and reading time to my pastor’s (whose job is to study the Bible and read books to teach our church), I’m going to come away feeling like my husband isn’t doing all that he should be. But I can’t place that same expectation on him because he doesn’t have the same kind of time my pastor does.
However, my husband has more time to listen. For that reason, we’ve invested money into audio books and decent headphones so that he can learn more about God and His Word while working or driving. We also carved out time in our evenings to spend thirty to sixty minutes studying the Bible together. This is something my husband can do and enjoys doing.
I encourage you to stop comparing your husband to all the other men around you and start looking at his strengths and the good things he’s doing. And then encourage him in those ways.
5 Practical Ways to Encourage Your Husband’s Faith
- Pray for him.
Remember to pray for your husband daily. Ask God to strengthen him in the weak areas of his life. Ask God to give him a desire to be in the Word. Pray for your husband that he would strive to glorify God in all that he does. Also thank God for the many ways your husband blesses you.
- Share what you’re learning.
If you have a lot more time to study, read, and listen than your husband does, then take this opportunity to share what you’re learning. Often I find this prompts edifying discussions together.
- Encourage and admonish him.
There needs to be a balance between these two. We should be both encouraging our husbands when they’re doing well but also gently correcting them when they aren’t obeying God.
- Give him opportunity to learn and fellowship with other men.
My temptation is to want to keep every moment my husband is home to myself. However, I know that just like I need time with other women to grow, he also needs time with other men. Encourage him to spend time with mature men in your church.
- Ask him to pray or read the Bible with you.
We may give subtle hints, but our husbands aren’t always able to read them. (Our husbands aren’t mind readers.) Instead of waiting for him to prompt prayer or Bible reading, try asking him first and lovingly explain how much that time means to you.
It can be discouraging and painful at times when our husbands aren’t the spiritual leaders we hoped and prayed for. But instead of allowing discouragement to become despair and pain become bitterness, first turn to Christ, remembering that He alone is the perfect spiritual leader for you. And then seek to evaluate your expectations of your husband and find ways you can encourage his growth in the faith.