How wives should treat their unbelieving husbands
(or husbands that act like unbelievers, or husbands in general, we all have problems)
The purpose of a marriage is not to satisfy yourself or fulfill your selfish desires or to gain control, the purpose of a marriage is to model the Gospel in your relationship to your husband and to model the relationship between Christ and the Church to unbelievers which is ultimately glorifying to God. The purpose of your marriage is to glorify God.
1. …a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife. 1 Corinthians 7:13-14.
First of all, no matter how bad things are don’t even think about or say the word “divorce”. I know husbands who are not walking in Christ can make a marriage miserable but God is giving you an opportunity to learn how to love a wretched worm unconditionally. This is how God loves us, unconditionally. We deserve wrath for our sin against God but while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. You treat God worse than your husband treats you. Think about your sin.
Second, If you can model the gospel in your life then you will sanctify your husband. Your husband will be blessed because of your faithfulness. He will receive some of the outward benefits of your salvation. If it pleases God, He will use your conduct to convict your husband and your husband will see his sin far better than when you point it out. Let God convict him and then he will change.
2. And why to you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
It is so important for all of us to look at ourselves and all our sin and many problems before we look at others. Sometimes what you don’t like about you husband is what you really don’t like about yourself. The sin you hate in yourself is just more manifested in you husband. Look at yourself first and then you will be able to go to your husband with love and understanding.
3. Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 1 Peter 3:1-2
Be submissive to your husbands. This does not mean that you should agree with your husband on everything or let him drag you into sin. It means encourage your husband to take his role as head of the household (not throw it in his face when he fails) and then follow his lead. If there is a big decision to make and it is not a sin either way, support your husband even if you have to sacrifice. This is part of what the Bible calls “dying to yourself”. It is a perfect model of being Christ like. Your husband will see this eventually and again be convicted and see Christ in you.
Your conduct should be so Christ-like that your husband will look at you and say, if this is what it is to be a Christian then I am definitely not one. Your example of conduct should be opposite of your old life. You should handle problems in an opposite way he is expecting. If your husband does something really stupid and he expects you to react the way you always do by screaming at him, then give him grace and mercy and you will shock him. He will actually be more convicted by his mistake and will be far less likely to do it again.
4. Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. 1 Peter 3:4-6
Make an effort to be not only submissive, which honors God, but to have a quiet and gentle spirit. If you are always fired up and raising your voice or arguing it will certainly bring out the same behavior in him. If your husband is screaming and acting crazy and you face him with a quiet and gentle spirit, then you will bring him back to reality and calm him down. The more gentle you are the more conformed to gentleness your husband will be. This will also be reflected positively with raising your kids.
5. An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones. Proverbs 12:4
Support him, love him, be excited about the things he is excited about and live a life that does not cause him shame. He should love to talk about you. If he is talking with all his friend and he has a supportive, godly wife, he will always be sharing that with others. If you are always nagging every time he does anything, the sinful husband will not be bragging about you but complaining about you. This is his fault and he is fully responsible but it will be the result.
6. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24
Model the Gospel in your marriage. The wife represents the church and her husband Christ. Respond to your husband how the church should respond to Christ. Focus on fulfilling your role, not how bad he is failing his role. This is how unconditional love is learned. If your husband was perfect then your love would be conditional on his actions toward you. The marriage is not about you or satisfying all your selfish desires, it is about Christ. Die to yourself and model the gospel. This is extremely hard and we will struggle with it until we die but we should definitely be getting better at it, by God’s grace, as we are sanctified.
7. …let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Men have a desperate desire for respect. They have a lot of responsibility in their role as the head of the house. If you respect your husband, even when he doesn’t deserve it, you will make leaps of progress in your relationship. He has a lot of pressure on him and he sure doesn’t need to be nagged at every time he fails. Try encouraging him and pointing out the good job he is doing when he does good. This will go so far. Respect him as a person, respect the things he does for the family, respect his effort to earn a living (as long as it isn’t sinful).
8. …love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
If you are mad your husband isn’t walking with Christ and is not fulfilling his biblical role you should again look at yourself. Concentrate on fulfilling your role and let God deal with your husband when he fails at fulfilling his role. Sometimes it is best to step back and let God take vengeance on your husband, so to speak. This can’t happen when you are always in his face. When you fail at your role, the name of God is blasphemed because you are sinning and disobedient. You are actually doing the same thing as your husband. Stay the course, finish the race, fulfill your unique role in the marriage. If you are being persecuted because of your faith then Philippians 4:13 is a promise for you, it says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God will give you the grace and strength to endure your marriage. Pray continually. God is the only One that can change you husband but be encouraged because we have a God that we can go to in prayer and a God that does change husbands.
9. Some words of encouragement and final exhortation:
But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:23-26
Like everything in life, your marriage is a huge spiritual battle. Put on the full armor of God, depend entirely on God, die to yourself daily for God, so that God will be glorified in you.