You’re married, and your husband isn’t a spiritual leader—he doesn’t initiate prayer or devotions, doesn’t take the lead in bringing the family to church, doesn’t readily show concern for your spiritual wellbeing or the children’s. He doesn’t care about faith and shows no inclination to do so. As a pastor, I’ve counseled many wives in this difficult situation.
These Christian women are struggling; maybe you are thinking: That’s exactly my situation now. I’ve also counseled single women who told me, That’s never going to happen to me. No matter who you are, there is hope in Christ.
How do you get trapped in this kind of marriage?
Picture this: Peter and Sarah meet at work. He’s hard-working, funny, well-respected in the office, and handsome. A few months ago, he took notice of Sarah. They started talking. Casual chitchat turned into long conversations. Lunches. Emailing. Texting. His fondness for her was clear, and he was direct, not vague like the other guys she dated.
Here’s the kicker—she’s a Christian, he’s not. Sarah grew up in a solid Christian family and gospel-preaching church and was converted in high school. The fruit of the Spirit was evident in her.
Peter never went to church and was agnostic at best. Anytime she brought up the subject of religion, he batted it down: “That’s good for you, but I’m not interested.”
The longer they were together, the more emotionally attached she became, and the harder it was to let go. When her parents and closest friends expressed concern, she defended him. Though her conscience often asked, “Is this right? Should I be doing this?” it was easier to ignore her conscience and the critics than to give Peter up.
Again, you might hear this story and think, That won’t ever be me. But be careful. There are dozens of reasons why smart women settle. Let’s look briefly at four.
Temptations to Settle
1. Love Is Blind
Because the relationship is fun, the guy is courteous and kind, and he pays attention like no one else will, a woman gets emotionally attached and lets her priorities slide.
2. Idolatry of Marriage
A good and godly desire to be married takes on a weight and importance that the institution of marriage doesn’t ever deserve. It becomes an idol: I won’t be satisfied until I find a spouse, or If God loves me, he’ll give me a husband.
Worry can contribute to making a bad choice—I’m afraid I’ll be lonely for the rest of my life, or I’m afraid I won’t ever have children. Some women live under the tyranny of anxiety. Fear of others, fear of failure, fear of discomfort or difficulty, fear of not getting what you want. It’s all there. Because the fears of this world own your heart, they also own your life.
4. Looking for the Wrong Things
Rather than godliness, the allure of physical and sexual attraction becomes what matters most.
Now, slow down and consider: Do any of these describe you? Even just a little bit? If so, you need to deal with the poor motivations that will drive you toward a bad situation.
What’s more, if you’re not seeking Christ, not connected to a gospel-preaching church, not honest about your heart’s desires, or not willing to submit to Christ in all things, it will be easy—maybe even likely—for you to make a bad choice.
Acknowledging your weakness will enable you to ask for the Spirit’s help and seek godly counsel in your relationships.
I Settled—What Now?
Maybe you married a spiritually immature man, and you feel stuck—and some days, hopeless. Take heart! God hasn’t left you alone. How do I know that? If he sent Christ to Calvary for you, he hasn’t forgotten you. Hold on tightly to this fact, because you’ll need it on the hardest days.
Your husband’s spiritual leadership will change in proportion to him growing in faith. Maturity comes by knowing Christ, not by treating Christianity as a Sunday-only religion or something you pull out of the drawer when things are hard. Your goal as a wife, whatever your husband’s spiritual condition, is to encourage his growth in genuine faith.
Help Your Husband Grow
To help your husband grow, you need to speak up about your faith. Silence most of the time isn’t a good option. There are days when you should quietly let the witness of your entire life testify to who Christ is and what he’s done for you (1 Pet. 3:1–5). But there are also days when your words can provoke your husband to think seriously about his relationship with Christ. When you speak, the Spirit can use you as an instrument of grace in his life.
You need a gospel-preaching church. It will be your lifeline. Teaching, prayers, songs, accountability, community—all are vital for your survival.
But you also need partners to help your husband to grow as a leader. You can’t do this on your own. A gospel-rich community will have members who pursue one another for the sake of everyone’s spiritual good. When your husband comes on Sundays, other men will initiate with him. He won’t stay spiritually dormant, because it’s impossible to stay anonymous in that church. For this reason, find a church that won’t leave you alone but will engage your family and care well for your souls.
Finally, if your husband won’t take a spiritual interest in you or the children, you need to take initiative for the sake of your family. If he won’t sing, pray, or open up the Bible with the children, you should, being mindful of an appropriate time and not doing it in a way that’s an affront to him. The same goes for church attendance. Don’t forsake worship if he’s not showing a consistent interest in it. Take the kids to church for their own souls’ sake.
A husband who doesn’t lead is neglecting his responsibility before God, and only the Spirit can convict him of this sin. Go to the Lord. Ask for his mercy. God is gracious and powerful. He can assist you in your time of need.