Spiritually Needy Husband

Straight Talk

The Question

My husband needs to learn to grow spiritually and does not desire to read or pray in the early morning hours when he gets up. Sometimes he gets up around 4:00 AM and sits and watches cartoons on TV. I have been praying for him. We need another vehicle and have not had our prayers answered, and I am wondering if our prayers are hindered because he refuses to do what is required as the spiritual head of the household.

– SA from Unknown location

The Answer
Part 1: Pervasive Problem
Part 2: Constructive Approach

Pervasive Problem (Part 1)

I have received numerous similar questions from wives regarding husbands over the years. The thing is, I almost never have such a question from a husband about a wife. In fact, I can only think of a single incident where a husband wrote in about a wife whom he felt needed greater spiritual maturity.

So okay, we start off by recognizing your problem is not unique. You are part of a very large club, especially within the American church – and actually, in society as a whole. Does that give you much comfort? Maybe not, because you still have to deal with your own husband within your own marriage.

Still, since your question represents such a pervasive problem, I want to address the way we face it before I answer you specifically. Women don’t particularly help themselves by participating in any variation of the currently popular gender game – men bashing. Labeling, criticizing, ridiculing, putdowns and holier than thou contempt is not going to make real men out of those stuck as boys.

I can only speculate on the root causes. We have been having a major breakdown of the family for several decades and we are bearing the consequences. Society has made some pretty bad choices and we know that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Men, women and children have all suffered in different ways but one of the ways men have been affected is an erosion of their divine role within marriage and the family. Certainly Satan has targeted men because it’s so effective for him; he can kill several birds with one stone when he is successful.

Constructive Approach (Part 2)

I’m not going to give you a guaranteed approach to change your husband into the spiritual head you want him to be. The truth is that you may try what I’m about to suggest and he will not change. Still, I believe this advice will give you your best shot.

You feel that your husband may be hindering your prayer for a new vehicle. You observe that he watches cartoons in the early morning rather than pray or read God’s Word. You say that he needs to grow spiritually. I’m sure those are all accurate facts. Perhaps you’ve gently mentioned these things at the very least or you’ve nagged him about his condition at the worst.

What if instead of seeing things for the way they are now, you act as if things are the way you want them to be? What if by faith you call your husband spiritually mature and operating as the best head of the household possible? What if you act like Abraham who “believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist? (Romans 4:17)

Stop praying for your husband to change and start thanking God for the best most mature husband in the world. Treat your husband with the assumption that that is who he is. It is often the case that what we assume is what we get. Studies in the psychology world have confirmed this over and over.

I remember hearing about one in which teachers were told that an incoming class had particularly gifted students when in actuality they were underachievers. The study was looking to see how that might influence their academic year. The students performed in accordance to the expectations of the teachers who were surprised when they found out they had been part of a year long study. It shouldn’t be a surprise because that’s faith in action.

If you decide to do this I will tell you that you may have a tough time of it especially at first. You don’t say a word and you don’t scrutinize your husband’s every action. What you are doing is changing your mindset, your perspective. You might wonder how this could make a difference but the truth is that we are all motivated to become our best selves in an atmosphere of acceptance rather than judgment.

Affirm all that your husband does well. Thank him and appreciate him for all that you like about him. Remember why you married him. Don’t for a second let him believe that he might be hindering an answer to prayer. Keep praying together for the vehicle and thank God together when it comes.

Suppose you never have the results I’ve mentioned? You will still be far ahead of the game because you will benefit from stretching and using your faith muscles. God will work maturity and character in you. There are really no bad results to this experiment. And – I know many women who have been quite successful over time. I pray you will be one of them!