I have walked alongside so many wives, over our four decades of ministry, where she finds herself alone, or perhaps alone but with the kids, while he is drifting, rebelling, angry at God, or simply has become disinterested in God. When these wives reach out for HELP what they first need is HOPE!
In my Bible Study, Discovering Hope in the Psalms, I define hope as “waiting expectantly for God to SHOW UP and SHOW OFF for YOUR GOOD and HIS GLORY” An acrostic for HOPE can be:
But what do you DO in the waiting? What do you hold on to until the pain ends? Is there anything a wife can do to lessen the pain and make forward progress, at least on her side of the equation, while she waits for God to move in the heart and life of her husband?
These are four key choices a wife can make to preserve her heart and increase the possibility for God to do some miracle working in your mate’s life.
Hope in the Lord! For with the Lord, there is steadfast love, and with Him, there is plentiful redemption. (Psalm 130:7)
Hang on to promises, like this one! While this verse was penned as a command to the nation of Israel, the same God is there for YOU too! If you use the keywords from Hebrew, this promise might sound like this: Wait expectantly in Yahweh, the Most holy One. For with Yahweh, there is lovingkindness, goodness, and kindness—from the Divine! With Him is abundance, heaping, lavish, and surpassing redemption.
Sounds hope-filled, right?
So, let’s look a little closer at four vital choices you CAN make when you might be feeling there is so little you do have control over in your marriage or family. Walk out these steps of H.O.P.E.:
Hold Fast in Prayer
Prayer is your secret weapon and sacred safe space while living with a spouse untethered from the moorings of faith. We live on a boat, and once the bowlines are loosed, and without the engine running, the boat just drifts, and this can be very dangerous. The boat can crash against rocks, get stuck on a sandbar, or if caught in a torrential storm, it can sink.
Your husband runs the same risks the further he drifts from God. However, prayer is your engine and prayer is a lifeline.
My favorite resource for praying for a spouse is Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe by Sharon Jaynes. All marriages will benefit from this resource that gives biblical and practical ways to pray over all areas of a husband’s life.
Offer Unconditional Love
You can protect your own heart and the health of your marriage by focusing your time and energies on what IS WORKING in your marriage instead of obsessing over what ISN’T WORKING. If you can stay positive toward your mate and keep extending acts and gifts of love in his direction, it helps your heart stay soft and it might also soften your husband’s heart too.
When I was a women’s ministry director, a woman on my leadership team came to me frustrated by the lack of spiritual growth of her husband. She wanted to leave and was headed toward divorce. I asked her to think of one positive thing about her spouse. All she could think of was, “He’s still here”. We brainstormed many creative ways she could affirm him. She would rub his shoulders and say, “It is nice to know some things in life never change” Or she’d catch him in a hug with a “It is so nice to have you around.” She kept this up for months until one day, he walked in, and she was having her morning devotion and he asked what she was reading. She read a verse and explained how it was helping her, and the next Sunday, he met her at the front door to attend church!
Protect Your Faith
My best advice to wives with a wayward husband (or prodigal child) or any toxic member of her family is, “Don’t let his crazy make you crazy”
In other words, keep pursuing Christ with a whole heart. It can become very easy to skip church with your mate, avoid a small group bible study because you don’t want to go alone, or pause the very good faith-building habits like saying family grace, playing Christian music in the car and home, and family devotions. Instead of drifting alongside your man, press into Jesus. Make sure to make time for your own morning and evening devotional time, attend women’s retreats, look for small group women’s bible studies, perhaps with other women who are also spiritually single.
Lastly, invest in your “successnet.” Look for online group videos and podcasts that equip you to build a healthy family and a strong marriage.
Look for leaders who honestly deal with the unique challenges of the “spiritually single” or wives married to unbelieving mates or spiritually disengaged husbands.
Consider booking a regular appointment with a biblically solid Christian counselor so you have a safe space to air your emotions but are given helpful insights and advice to strengthen your own inner core and spiritual life.
Pam Farrel is an international speaker, and author of 59 books including her newest, Discovering Good News In John: A Creative Bible Study. Pam and her husband, Bill, are co-directors of Love-Wise, a ministry to enrich, educate, and encourage people’s most vital relationships. When not traveling for speaking, the Farrels enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, walking the beach, and hosting guests on their floating home on the ocean. www.love-wise.com.