This Post is not talking about a wife in an abusive relationship. Dear Wife, If you are being abused -physically or emotionally please seek help. This link may help. There is NEVER a justification for abuse. There are places that will help you and your children. Dear Friend of an Abused Wife. Don’t send her back into the relationship to “Fix” him. Help her get Help. That is Friendship and love. This link may help you understand what it might look like (it is not PC, it is real life).
In the course of one week, three different women sent me the same portion of scripture (about being a wife):
The first time I received these words, I thought my friend must have misunderstood my situation. “What does submitting to my husband have to do with him needing to shape up?” I wondered.
I tried to ignore the advice, but God kept sending His messengers. By the third time these verses appeared on my screen, I was fed up. “God, why should I submit when he doesn’t have my best interests at heart? You told him to love me like Christ loved the church, and if he isn’t doing his part, then I can’t do mine.”
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a response.
I thought my argument was pretty sound. Submission needs trust, trust comes from love; no love = no trust = no submission required. (To be fair, my husband did love me, but things were rough and this is how I felt.)
But as I sat in the silence, a scene unfolded in my head. I stood before the throne of God and He asked me to give an account of my actions as a biblical wife. I started to explain about my husband when God interrupted me, “Your husband? He is not here. This is about you.” My heart became heavy and I hung my head; I had no account to give.
In that moment, I realized my behavior cannot be dependent on my husband. God expects me to be a biblical wife, even if my husband never embraces his godly role in our marriage. That is what 1 Peter 3:1-4 is all about; living a life that is pleasing to God—A life that reflects His nature to the world, and of course, to my husband.
With this new perspective, I surrendered; “okay God, just show me how.” Over time, here is what He taught me.
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How to be a biblical wife to an ungodly husband
Prayer invites God to work in our lives. Start by asking God to help change you into the biblical wife He desires you to be. Ask Him to reveal the areas you need to work on and to give you the discipline to achieve personal and spiritual growth.
Also pray for your husband. Only God can convict our husbands of their sin and mold them into godly men. But we can be our husband’s prayer warrior. Plead with God to work in your husband’s life and pray against attacks from the enemy.
2. Love Unconditionally
1 John 4: 10-11 tells us: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (NKJV, emphasis added)
God loved us without being loved in return. Our love for our husband should imitate God’s love for us.
Theologian Miroslav Volf explains unconditional love this way, “You love God for nothing, or you don’t love God.” He uses marriage as an example saying, if he only loved his wife for everything she did for him, and how she made him feel, then he didn’t actually love her.
Biblical love cannot be conditional. It cannot depend on whether you feel loved, or whether you receive love in return. Even when it is hard and painful to do so, we must love.
“It [Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:7-8a (NIV)
3. Show Compassion
Bitterness will thrive in the heart of a wife who doesn’t show compassion to her husband. (Ask me how I know.) But bitterness is not an attribute of a biblical wife, so we must learn how to have compassion for our husband’s sin.
Being compassionate for your husband means acknowledging your own sinful nature and how hard it is to overcome sinful tendencies. It also requires setting aside anger for understanding and demonstrating grace and mercy because that is what Jesus does.
Having compassion for your spouse’s sin does not mean you ignore the sin. The Bible makes it clear we are to gently call out sin in the lives of others.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Galatians 6:1 (ESV)
But we can be hard on the sin while still loving the sinner.
Need help with this? Check out Boundaries in Marriage.
4. Lead From Behind
Remember my argument with God? How I essentially asked, why should I submit to an ungodly husband? I struggled to obey not because I was against submitting, but because it seemed foolish to submit to someone who wasn’t walking with God.
What helped me get over this mental block was an article by Rick Thomas called Nine Effective Ways to Disciple Your Husband While Submitting to Him. Rick makes it clear that wives are not supposed to passively accept their husband’s immature Christianity. He states:
“One of the wife’s primary responsibilities in her marriage is to counsel her husband. She is the number one sanctifying-agent in her husband’s life.”
He calls this our responsibility to disciple our husbands; to offer them biblical care and point them to Jesus. But we in doing so, we must remain within our God ordained role and therefore, lead our husbands from behind. This includes praying for your husband, demonstrating behavior you desire to see from him, encouraging him, and giving him opportunities to learn from godly men.
It took me a while to completely wrap my head around this concept, so I highly recommend reading Rick’s full article here. (This article is addressed to women whose husbands’ claim to be Christians but who are not stepping up to be the godly leader in the family, which was my case. However, even if your husband isn’t a self-proclaimed Christian, I think you will find it helpful.)
There is also a piece of this that requires Forgiveness. I’d love to share the Pathway I found to truly forgiving the Pain, Abuse and Betrayal that stoke so many years of my life. I was stuck, unwilling to forgive. I had to learn to release people, so I could walk in freedom! I’d love to share that story with you – It is a Free download below.
Being a biblical wife to an ungodly husband is hard work. It doesn’t seem fair, and somedays, it might not even feel worth it. But I promise it is! Over time your behavior may win over your husband as 1 Peter 3:2 suggests. But even if it doesn’t, you can stand confidently in God’s presence and say, “I did my part. I followed your instruction and worked hard to be a biblical wife in whom you can delight.”
What an Equipping article Kira!
You will want to keep up with Kira Bridges as she is pursuing joy by seeking the life God intended. She writes at Joy Pursued, sharing lessons learned and resources to help women draw close to God and experience His joy. Living in Oregon with her husband, daughter, and two dogs; Kira believes living with joy is a lifelong journey and would love for you to join her. You can hang out with her on Facebook, and Instagram.
In September (2017) I invited 30 Women’s Ministry Leaders to share their Best Marriage Tips, Secrets, Encouragement along with some Free Resources to better Equip us all. Check out the articles on the Biblical Marriage – The Wifehood Page or get them in a Free e-Book Here!
Don’t forget to check out the Wives only Facebook Group! This amazing community is focused on Biblical Wifehood. They are is encouraging and equipping each other!
You might also enjoy the Christian Marriage Resource List – these are all things that have helped restore Hope & Joy in my Marriage.