Counseling: Helping a husband walk with God

Dear Mike,

My husband is not the man I thought I was marrying. He does not lead the family in spiritual things because he has a very low self esteem and no matter what I do I can’t seem to help him. I read in 1 Peter 3 that I’m supposed to treat him as a lord, but isn’t that the same word the Bible uses to talk about Jesus? How does that work?

A concerned wife

Dear CW,

Your’s a is a common question, which is why I’m putting it here on my blog.

The word for lord there (1 Peter 3) is the same as the word for lord when talking about Jesus. The difference is that Jesus is a different kind of Lord. He is Lord of lords.

This does, however, mean that most women need to have a much higher view of their husbands than they often do. They forget that the text (1 Peter 3) says that if the husband is in sin. It is not a low self image, it is sin. But often women help create and reinforce this sin by picking at their husbands and not being able to find anything good in their husbands to cheer them on about.

Peter tells wives to let their worship and obedience to God shine out through their worship and obedience of their husbands. This is tough on many women because they think it is something in their husbands that deserve the praise. But it has nothing to do with the husband, it has everything to do with God. It is not really the husband who is being praised, it is God who is praised when the wife submits to her sinful husband. And this is great because all of us husbands are sinners and none of us deserve praise.

This means that if a wife is waiting until her husband is praise worthy to do what the Bible requires, she will never be submissive to God and this is a problem.

Another problem wives have is that they think they need to “fix” their husband. But notice the text says he will be won without a word. It isn’t the wife that changes the husband, it is God working through love, through Grace, through means. If the wife says anything about his sin, does anything (pouting, burning food, cold shoulder, etc.) at all, she will be getting in the way of God’s work in her husband. God says, “be quiet and let me work in your husband.”

This is a great thing because it frees the wife to live in front of God without trying to lead her husband (which is often a great player in the problem in the first place). The text says that the wife will not need to fear. This is because the responsibility for the spiritual state of the family is not the wife’s to bear, it is God’s.

So, do what God tells you to do. Dress nicely, wear make-up, put on a happy face, look for things in your husband that you can legitimately praise and then praise up a storm. Do not correct him, pick at him, tell him what to do, nag him, yell at him, demean him, talk about him with others, etc.

If you find yourself in fights with your husband and don’t know how you got there, begin keeping a journal. Write answers to these questions:

  1. What is my context? What was going on before the “event” occurred?
    Was I stressed (why?)?
    What factors played into creating the “event”?
  2. How did I respond, act, or react in the “event”?
  3. Why did I respond, act, react the way I did? What needs, desires, longings was I trying to maintain, protect, take hold of? Wy did I do what I did? Was I afraid (of what might or might not happen), angry, joyful?
  4. What were the consequences/results of my reactions?
  5. How would 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Hebrews 4:16 have helped me?
  6. What should I have done differently? What will I do differently next time?
  7. How should I now respond to the situation in order to honor God?
  8. What are the results I have been getting? What would I like to see in the future?

After you’ve written in your journal a few times (a few “events”) go back over them and see if there are any patterns. Are you an angry, fearful, power crazy, proud, despondent person? How does the word of God tell you to live, if you have these particular susceptibilities? How should faith (trust) affect this area of your life?

I hope this helps,

Mike

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