Most women love words. We love to talk. We love to communicate. Thus, for most women, praying to God comes fairly easily. After all, prayer is communication.
On the other hand, most men don’t enjoy talking as much as women, and many men find it challenging to express their deepest thoughts and feelings. As a result, when a husband hears his wife praying an articulate, expressive, lengthy prayer…he can end up feeling intimidated. The wife doesn’t mean to intimidate her husband spiritually, but she ends up doing just that!
If this could be the case for your man, seriously consider shortening up your prayers and using simple words. Don’t get me wrong. I’m NOT saying your husband is stupid. I’m simply saying that women need to be careful that we’re not “showing off” our vocabulary as we pray! This reminds me of something Jesus said in Luke 20:47. He had harsh words for people who “for show make lengthy prayers”. So, let’s be super humble and pray concise, simple, heart-felt prayers. You may find that your man is more eager to pray with you in the future.
I wish I had known about the blessings of a fire pit a long time ago! I had no idea that a fire pit could pave the way to more intimate, deep conversations than we routinely have in our marriage. But I’ve discovered it’s true! There’s something bonding and safe about sharing your deepest thoughts, feelings and dreams in the flickering light coming from your backyard fire pit. Maybe it’s because it’s quiet and peaceful at night and, when sitting in front of the fire, we tend to talk in soft voices. Proverbs 15:1 says “A soft answer turns away wrath…” Well, maybe it’s that soft conversation in front of a fire that breaks down our defenses and helps us to open up.
We’ve built a fire pit in our backyard at our last 2 homes. They cost less than $100. We thought a fire pit would be fun for the grandchildren to toast marshmallows and roast hot dogs. But it turned out that my husband and I enjoyed it just as much…for different reasons than the grandkids! As the sun goes down, we light the fire, and then my husband asks what the topic of the night should be. Sometimes, we talk about our dreams for ministry. Some nights, we talk about our concerns for our children and we pray for them. Other nights, we talk about our dream vacation ideas. Try building a fire pit. You may be pleasantly surprised by the emotional intimacy you gain as a result!
You may be a wife like me…a wife who is stunned when her husband does or says something that isn’t exactly kind and loving. To be honest, at some subconscious level, I guess I expected my husband to always make me happy and do the right thing. In short, I rather expected him to be like Jesus. I mean, after all, he is a Christian, for heaven’s sake!
Hmmm. On the other hand, the Bible makes it clear that no human being is perfect. Psalm 14:3 says, “there is no one who does good, not even one”. So, perhaps it’s time for both you and me to take our husbands off the hook. I’m not saying that we should give them a free pass on blatant, destructive sin. Jesus makes it clear we should confront someone who is truly sinning against us. You can read his instructions about that in Matthew 18:15-17.
However, I do believe it’s time we started being gracious to our husbands in terms of looking beyond their minor faults and annoying quirks. Does he sometimes drive more aggressively than you would like? Maybe we can be gracious about that (while praying for safety!). Does he often have a hard time sharing his deep thoughts and feelings? We can be gracious about that too. Let’s remember he is a flawed person, just like us! We’re all a work in progress…in the master’s hands.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get in a poopy mood (yes, I just used the highly technical term “poopy”!) when I do something sacrificial for my husband and he doesn’t even seem to notice. For me, even though both my husband and I work full-time in ministry, I decided that, for a while, I would do all the household cleaning chores so that my husband would be freed up to serve God even more. I did this for a several month stretch last year.
Did I enjoy vacuuming, dusting, cleaning toilets? No, I did not. Did I sometimes feel grumpy when I cleaned the house after already working a full day? Yes, I did. But then I thought, “well, at least my husband will sing my praises when he gets home and notices all I’ve done”. However, even though I subtly pointed out to him what I had done, much to my shock, sometimes he didn’t say anything at all. What!?!
It’s at that time that God graciously reminded me that He noticed all I had done and he was pleased. I know that God is pleased whenever I serve my husband because God instructs us in Matthew 9:35 that “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
God always notices what we’re doing even when no one else sees it! In Matthew 6:4, the Bible reminds us that “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Let’s take heart that we are pleasing the “right” man when we serve our husbands sacrificially. That right man is Jesus.
Have you ever noticed a blank look on your husband’s face when you suddenly bring up a heavy topic, voice a frustration, or ask him to change a behavior? Or does your husband seem to get defensive very quickly in those moments? I’m discovering that the reason for the blank look or the immediate defensiveness is because a man thinks differently than a woman!
Women process thoughts, ideas and feelings at lightning speed. We are ready to engage in a deep conversation at the drop of a hat. We can verbalize how we feel instantaneously! Men, on the other hand, need time to process their thoughts and feelings. So…..when we suddenly bring up a deep topic, or state how we feel, or ask them to make a change in behavior, or heaven forbid, ask them how they feel, our men become like the proverbial “deer in the headlights”! Often they default to the blank look on the face or they become defensive because they feel pressured to do or say something, and they haven’t yet had a chance to think things through.
Here’s what I’m trying to learn to do. I need to bring up a concern or state my feelings on an issue and then let my husband have some breathing room to process it. I need to say “let’s talk more about this later after you’ve had a chance to think about it.” Most men need some space to process their thoughts and feelings. Maybe this is a good opportunity for us to practice patience! Ponder these two Proverbs. Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience…” Proverbs 14:29 “Whoever is patient has great understanding….”
We’ve all seen that couple at a restaurant…that couple that hardly speaks a word to each other throughout the whole meal. Don’t be that couple! You and your husband may not be used to revealing your hearts to each other, but give it a try, and don’t just talk about the kids. Here are two helpful hints in terms of making your husband comfortable in opening up his heart to you in conversation: 1) Show an actual interest in what your husband shares 2) Do not criticize, point out flaws, or roll your eyes at the things he shares! Philippians 2:4 instructs…”Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others.” So, really listen to the hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, and feelings of your husband.
Here are 4 questions you could use as date night conversation starters:
1) What makes you feel most fully alive…as in what do you so enjoy doing that you feel great satisfaction or delight and you easily lose track of time?
2) If you had 100 million dollars and didn’t have to work for a living, what would you love to do with your time and money?
3) What are the 2 or 3 most impactful moments of your life?
4) What was the best part of your day and what was the most discouraging part of your day?
Sometimes, we will notice a trend in our husband’s behavior or reactions that are concerning. He might not be engaged in something hugely sinful, but you are concerned about the harsh way he’s interacting with the kids or the resentment that he holds toward his boss, etc. In other words, you fear that if he continues down that path, significant damage will be the result. Hmmm. What’s a wife to do in those moments where she senses her husband is headed the wrong way?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but let me share two things that have been effective in my own relationship. 1) Pray earnestly that God will convict your husband through his Holy Spirit so that your husband will see that he needs to make some changes. Jesus makes it clear that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict people when they are off track. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8 “when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
2) If you feel like God is nudging you to talk to your husband about your observations, quietly come to your husband, take a humble posture by perhaps kneeling beside him while he’s sitting, and gently tell him of your concerns. Take this opportunity to speak words of life to him. Tell him about the good qualities you see in him. Remind him that God is transforming him into a man who has Christ’s character, which is “gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8). Tell him you’re proud of him for seeking to become more like Christ and for allowing God to mold and shape him.
Many women get so discouraged about the lack of emotional connection with their husbands. Wives desperately desire their husbands to open up and share their deepest thoughts and feelings, but often it just doesn’t happen. Well, one of the things I’ve learned is that most men will do almost anything to avoid looking weak or being vulnerable to criticism. So, they don’t share their hearts. They don’t want to risk your scoffing or criticism. They’re like a turtle that tucks its head inside a protective shell.
But there is a way to prompt your husband to take the risk of sharing his heart with you. You need to be a safe place for him to share his heart! What do I mean by that? Well, I’ll tell you what it looks like if you’re NOT a safe place. Do you roll your eyes at his ideas? Do you explain why he’s wrong when he shares his thoughts, beliefs, or ideas? Do you criticize him or complain all the time? Those kinds of words and actions don’t exactly make him feel safe in terms of opening up his heart at the deepest level!
God instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33 “the wife must respect her husband.”, and if you consistently show that respect…day after day…and month after month….your husband may start feeling it’s safe to risk opening up his heart to you. Starting today, try looking for ways to encourage your husband. Listen attentively to what he talks about. Look directly at him when he is talking. Smile at him. Affirm him in any way you can. You might find that he will enjoy talking to you a whole lot more! And that turtle just might poke his head out from underneath the shell.
Many women lament the fact that their husbands won’t pray with them and their husbands aren’t really the spiritual leader….but, here’s something I’ve observed over the years that may shed some light on your predicament. If you want your husband to become the spiritual leader of your family, you have to stop being the leader yourself! Sometimes women, including myself, can be so eager to bring spiritual disciplines into our family life that we leave no gap for our husbands to fill. Perhaps this is why God repeatedly instructs wives to be submissive! Titus 2:5 tells women to be “self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands”.
In other words, instead of you jumping in and praying for the kids when they get tucked into bed at night, you could ask your husband for his help with that. If you would like the Bible to be read aloud after dinner, tell your husband you love the sound of his voice when he reads and ask him if he would read the Bible. After he has read the Bible passage, ask him what he thinks God is saying…and then listen attentively to his answer. When you’re not feeling well, you could tell him it would mean the world to you if he were to just lay a hand on your shoulder and say a simple prayer. Even a one-sentence prayer is fine. And when he does any of these things, be encouraging and thankful! Build him up.
When a woman takes over any area of leadership, many men will simply back off. So, if you want your husband to become the spiritual leader of your home, you need to allow there to be a bit of a void in that area. Then ask him for his help. 🙂
Being married to an unbeliever can be frustrating and discouraging. You’re pulling one way. He’s pulling another. You make decisions based on your faith and trust in God. He thinks only of himself. Ugh.
There is hope, but your situation may not change overnight. The key is persistent prayer. One wife, whom I know quite well, prayed earnestly for about 15 years before her husband finally came to Christ. It was discouraging at times, but she kept believing that God would answer her prayer, and He did. It just took time for God to soften her husband’s heart.
May I suggest that you pray Ezekiel 36:26-27 every day for your husband, inserting his name in the verse? The verse talks about God turning a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. In other words, God can soften hard hearts! Here is how you might want to pray this verse: “Jesus, give (insert your husband’s name) a new heart and put a new spirit in him. Jesus, remove (insert name)’s heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh. Jesus, put your Spirit in (insert name) and move him to follow your decrees and be careful to keep your laws.”
Also, to encourage yourself to keep diligently praying and trusting God, you may want to read the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18.