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!
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 done before. 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. (For more on this, you can read, Hope in a Failing Marriage).
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. To my surprise, 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.
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 to try to just love him the way he is.
I Corinthians 3:6-7 says, “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.”
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.)
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