The honest truth is that YOU can’t. However, before you stop reading, know that your husband can change, but you are probably the reason that he is not. Sorry for that hard dose of reality, but know that there is hope! My husband changed dramatically, and here I share how exactly that happened.
Why We Often Want to Change Our Husbands
In most marriages you will find at least one spouse that is seeking to change the other. Our spouse may have “short-comings” or “flaws” that just plainly do not jive with who we are or what we want out of life and we try our best to “help” that person along. It may be as simple as having them take their shoes off when they get home, fix the leaky toilet, or as complicated as wanting them to share our faith.
It is really difficult to just love a person, baggage and all. It really is, even though that is what we are called to do as Christians. I mean, God certainly loves us that way despite all of our garbage, but it is difficult to then love others like that, especially our spouses. And because it is difficult, we try to find ways to change them and I certainly did!God certainly loves us that way, despite all of our garbage, but it is difficult to then love others like that, especially our spouses. And because it is difficult, we try to find ways to change them. Click To Tweet
How I Wanted to Change my Husband’s Beliefs
When my husband and I tied the knot, we were unevenly yoked. That means that I was a follower of Jesus and he was only one on paper. Despite my rebellion in marrying someone that did not truly share my Christian faith, God was still gracious. My husband was a good man by the world’s standards. He took care of me, provided financially, treated me with respect and in all ways, except in his worship of God, was a good “Christian” husband. For about ten years we made that work.
But despite our “good” marriage, deep down my heart ached. Every Sunday I would ask him if he would join me at church, and nine times out of ten he would say no. Once in a blue moon, he would humor me and tag along, but his heart was not in it. I tried my hardest to bring my husband to Jesus. I tried teaching him the Bible, but usually we would just end up arguing. Nothing I did seemed to work.
Our Differences Led to a Breakdown in Our Marriage
When you are unevenly yoked, at some point that will come to a head. And it did for us. Our good marriage quickly, and almost unexpectedly started spiraling out of control. At our lowest point, when we were holding on by a mere thread, he told me, “Why can’t you understand that I just will never be THAT man. I will never accept Jesus in that way.” I remember sobbing at those words and feeling more alone than I had ever before.
Relevant Article: Hope in a Failing Marriage
By this point, I had stopped being a loving, caring wife and I had separated myself emotionally from my husband. Honestly, we were not being kind to each other any more. We put up a good front for our daughter’s sake, but when she was not looking, we were a mess.
How My Husband Finally Changed
My husband is a Christian today, so how did he change? Per the strong advice of a friend, I stopped trying to change him. I stopped making comments about it and I may have even stopped inviting him to church. I worked on me. I repented of my sins and the ways that I had contributed to our failing marriage. I cried out to God and then I forced myself to be kind to this man that I barely even knew anymore. I forced myself to pray for him and for my family. I gave my husband to God and chose to stop worrying about it.
With time, he began to return the kindness, but he was still adamant about not becoming a Christian. You can imagine my shock when, a year or two later, my parents, who are pastors, brought my husband to Christ.
But I Wanted Him to Change Even More
The day my husband accepted Christ was one of the happiest days of my life, but the tendency to want to further change my husband would creep up again. I was so excited about his salvation, I wanted him to now grow and get involved in church. I wanted him to find someone to disciple him. I had such big plans for him, but he was not ready or more accurately, not interested in those plans. Once again, a faithful friend suggested that I back off and so reluctantly I did. And then I saw him change inwardly, take a more gentle approach to life, and I saw him begin to interpret the world and people from a Biblical lens.
Relevant Article: Why Your Husband Doesn’t Understand You….and Why That is Okay
Learning to Let God Do the Changing
I keep a prayer journal where I write down my thoughts and prayer requests. At one point, I had written down that I wanted to approach one of our church elders to see if they would be willing to seek my husband out and disciple him. Thankfully, I chose first to pray through that idea. After a few days of praying specifically on that point, I felt strongly that God was telling me to NOT get involved and I wrote that down in my journal. I therefore tucked that idea away and decided not to revisit it.
A few months later, a few men from our church reached out to my husband asking if he wanted to be discipled. He even asked me if I had something to do with that, but thankfully, I had my prayer journal to prove otherwise. He looked at me skeptically at first, but then realized I was telling the truth.
I was thankful that these men had reached out, but not surprised. God did not need my help to move my husband along in his growth. God moved in the heart of those men to take an active interest in my husband. My husband now meets on a regular basis with his mentor. He is growing and changing and I had nothing to do with that, except maybe taking the time to pray about it and trying to just love him the way he is.
I Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (ESV)
Why Nagging Does Not Work
It is truly God that gives the growth and in his own timing. This experience taught me that every time I wanted to push my husband into something, he resisted. He fought me. Whenever I would just step back and give my frustrations to God, my husband would change. And he didn’t just change in his love for Jesus. He even started doing things differently around the house that in the past were sources of contention. The person he is today is so different than the man I married and I thank God every day for that.
As women, we have a tendency to try to push and nag our husbands into giving into our ways, even more so if we feel “our way” is the more Biblical approach. If that is you, I want to gently encourage you to stop. Take time to pray through things before taking action or even before having a conversation with him. Let God lead you and avoid those knee jerk reactions.
There will be times when you must sit down and have a conversation with your husband and there will be times when it is absolutely appropriate to seek help from a pastor or counselor. However, many times, you will just need to leave it to God and watch Him work. This is especially true if you already had a talk with your husband and you are not seeing a change. Repeating it over and over again, won’t matter. Let God move within him and let God be glorified through the process.
Actions You CAN Take to “Help” Your Husband Along
— Pray consistently for your husband. This is the most powerful thing that you CAN do.
–Stop nagging. It seems counterintuitive, but I learned the hard way that it actually causes most men to shut down.
–Work on you. As they see you change, it is natural for them to react positively to that.
–Love them for who they are now, not for who you want them to become.
–Be patient and wait on God. Hard, I know, but God has His timing.Love your husbands for who they are now, not for who you want them to become. Click To Tweet
(I do want to make a brief comment for those of you that might be in an abusive relationship. This blog is not about that. If your husband is hurting you or your children, please seek help and quick. Call the police, talk to a pastor, but do what is necessary to keep yourself and your children safe.)
Another blog that may be of interest:
Learning to Appreciate my Husband
I am interested in your thoughts! Please comment below.
This Post Has 24 Comments
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Nagging only makes things worse. I love that you stated that you had to stop trying and let God do the work.
Luisa, thanks for sharing your story, and for this insightful advice. I think that it’s true of most situations that need changing that making sure we make the changes in ourselves rather than try to change someone else. It’s easier said than done, right? But thankfully we have a God who loves us and will give us the strength we need to humble ourselves and be changed by Him!
Yes, always easier said than done, but we just keep moving forward and lean on the One that can handle it.
Luisa, I needed this post. Thank you for sharing openly and thoughtfully. I have much to be thankful for as I have a Christian husband, but I do fall into the trap of wishing he would do more of this or less of that. Your advice is so true. Pray for him and work on me! Lord, help me with both of these. Thank you again for this!
Hi Melissa, It is a daily walk. I still find myself falling into trap, but it is a constant renewing of the mind. Will be praying for both of you!
I think many situations require us to step back, pray and let God take the reins. It’s so hard, I know because I’m struggling with a situation with one of my children. My nagging is not helping. But he is a child of God and God has his own timing. I’m so thankful for the salvation of your husband and that you guys are back on track. Great post!
I love how openly you wrote about this for the purpose of helping others be saved. You never know who may have salvation because someone read this.
This is important for us to remember when we know anyone that is not yet with Christ. So often we are the roadblocks to others salvation! How amazing of you to listen to God and find ways to support your husband!!
Great insights here that are really applicable to any relationship in our lives, not just for our spouses. Thanks for the emphasis on prayer, as that is often overlooked as the best way to “help”!
I feel lucky since I don’t have a wish to change my husband. I think he’s the best husband anyone can get 🙂
My husband and I talk a lot about the topic of your blog post; we have done some things to get on the same page.
I’m glad to see you write about the topic because it’s an important topic.
I’m very aligned with the advice of your friend: Whenever I hear of couples who try to change each other, I think it’s wrong.
It’s our duty to inspire, not to change people.
I like that, “Our duty is to inspire, not to change people.” Thank you, Edna!
It really is; and we are all different with different approaches to live and people.
I learnt from this post. I pray may God help me too because I am in this same situation but I hope for victory ahead in jesus name Amen.
I will pray God will work mightily in your situation!
To God be the glory. This message was delivered right on time, as I do all that you did. I thank you for sharing your testimony.
Praise God! So thankful that you were able to receive from this message! Blessings!
I needed this piece today! thank you
So glad to hear this! May God bee praised :O)
Nice blog and the topic is phenomenal. I have tried for 4 yrs. In my case mine has no respect for me, does not help financially nor is a provider. I do everything. I also stopped naggin and know that God is always in control. However, if He knocks on the door and nobody opens, He will not come in. I just honestly have given up. God can keep him and do with him as He pleases. As for me, I only want God and husband can go away and that will bring me happiness
Lizette, I am so sorry you are going through this. It sounds like a situation that requires a God-sized solution. I pray God gives you clarity and revelation on any action if any needed on your part. Many hugs and prayers to you.
This was an encouraging read for me! My marriage has been struggling. We’ve never lived on our own and now with with my husbands parents (with our 4 month old baby). It’s been so stressful and has helped to cause such strain and strife within our marriage. The Lord had opened another door for us that included family discipleship and answered many of our prayers and desires, but my husband chose to move into his parents home – and made that decision with his parents and they never included me in the making of the decision.
I still struggle with relinquishing the bitterness I harbor towards that decision and the way it’s affected our family. Our marriage has rapidly gone downhill since moving into his parents and we have mostly negative encounters with one another. There really isn’t intimacy in our marriage and the Lord has recently been restoring my heart back to Him but my husband still has such walls up.
I have always tried to “encourage” my husband towards Christ but see how much of it was really not accepting him as who he is now. My husband does know the Lord but really never submitted to discipleship or having any spiritual authority over him. And the friends he surrounds himself are either unbelievers or just don’t serve the Lord and live their lives for themselves. And his family does not have Christ at the center either.
I really see now though how much I’ve tried to nag him so that he can see those things in his life and his priorities. To me in my mind it was helpful because I thought if he could just see the things he puts first (ahead of me and the baby) then he’ll want to change and submit to God and love and serve his family. But I see so much through your article how I’ve only been standing in the way of God working. I’ve been praying for my husband for almost 2 years now, desperately wanting God to bring men into his life. But if feels like every person or opportunity God brings my husband rejects. That’s been so hard for me to watch. Because he says no to what I see as good things for us as a family, for me and the baby and himself and chooses things that bring strife and contention and place stress and burden on me.
But of course the more I’ve tried to “help” him to see that the more he’s shut down.
When you said love your husband for who he is now and not who you want him to become that really stiff out to me. Reminds me of Gods command for me to respect my husband. That’s not based off of anything he does, it’s just a command for me to fulfill. And I see how much I really don’t love my husband where he’s at now and who he is. I don’t love him with the things and people he chooses to prioritize. So that’s super helpful to see the best thing I can do for our marriage right now is to pray but then accept and love my husband for who he is now. And hope that God changes him, but not wait on that to begin loving him.
I am so sorry to hear the difficult time you have had with your spouse. And yes, living with the in-laws adds a new dynamic to it. It is not easy loving our spouses for who they are now so I pray God gives you the patience and strength to do so. But I am glad you found hope in my story and I hope your story will one day provide hope for another marriage. And please feel free to update us on the small wins even if they take some time to come to pass. Hugs!
God gave me three messages, over a span of years, and He was very clear. But understanding them was a little confusing, especially the last one. But your article makes them much more clear. Do not fear. Be still and know that I am God. Surrender. Wow!! God is good. I am thankful that He led me to your articles. Thank you.
So glad that the articles were able to bless you. I know what you are going through. It is hard, and we constantly have to be reminded of God’s truth in the midst of difficult times.