When Your Husband Isn’t Trusting God the Way You Think He Should

When Your Husband Isn’t Trusting God the Way You Think He Should

March 14, 2017

“… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Devotion Graphic

I know I can’t be the only wife who has ever questioned how her husband leads the family and the depth of his faith in God.

Early in our marriage, I expected Dennis to lead me in prayer times, Bible study and in making church a priority. Then when we had children, I expected he’d do the same with them. All the missionary biographies I’d read had children sitting quietly, listening to a wise father teach.

Idealism and expectations come from those comparisons. What wife hasn’t made hundreds of comparisons about her husband?

Are you doing what I did? Informing him how much work you are doing, how heavy your load is, as if he’s doing nothing? Perhaps he’s not doing what he could, but setting yourself up as superior is not the motivation he needs to change.

The truth for me might be the truth for you too. It’s not that my husband wasn’t leading our family; it’s that he wasn’t leading our family the way I thought he should. He wasn’t believing in God as I thought he should.

Since when did God ask me to set the standard for my husband?

Recently one of my daughters said to me, “I’m so glad I’ve learned that when my husband acts this way, I don’t have to let his attitude control me. I’m not responsible to make him happy or help him change his behavior.”

This is truth for every wife.

Many times our husbands could have acted differently, responded more lovingly, been more patient with your mother or with his mother. Other times, he may not be outright sinning, but his approach to life isn’t yet refined. His way of handling conflict, relationships, money, the children — or all of the above — are skills that must grow and develop.

Think about it. When you’re learning to ride a bike, what do you do? Fall … a lot!

Odds are good your husband has never been a husband to you before. You are unique and not like any other woman on the planet, right? He’s going to make lots of mistakes. Let him learn. Encourage him like you do your children’s faltering first steps or first wobbling pedals on a bike.

He’s still learning.

While I am acutely aware being a wife and mother is hard work, I often forget that being a husband and dad is hard, too. The God-given burden our husbands have for shepherding the entire family is a heavy one — whether they ever admit it or not.

So let’s start by acknowledging that he has a lot to live up to. There’s no way he could get it all right the first time around. He is practicing every day in his live, real-time interaction with you and your children.

When we see our husbands sin or make mistakes, it’s easy to forget that as a couple, we are both growing into the person God wants us to be. Let’s remember: God isn’t finished yet.

When I feel like my husband isn’t carrying his weight, I have a choice to make: I can complain about him and criticize him for his mistakes, or I can continue believing in the man I married.

I’ve learned that when I choose to believe in my husband, I’m really choosing to believe in God. Not because my husband is immortal, but I’m showing I believe in God’s sovereignty to change hearts, attitudes and behaviors.

Temporary disappointments and our failures show us how much we need the transforming work of God in our lives, every single day.

Are you willing to see the good in your man and believe God is greater than all our sin? Your husband needs your belief and encouragement as God refines his faith.

Dear God, thank You for continuing to refine me as You refine my husband. Show me how to respect and encourage him through the process. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

In Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife, Barbara Rainey candidly addresses the realities of marriage today.

Visit Barbara Rainey’s blog where she helps women live out their faith at home every day.

1. Give thanks to God for the way He made your husband. Acknowledge God is the author of
your marriage.
2. Find something your husband is doing right and praise him for it. Don’t stop at just one.
3. Voice your belief in your husband. Tell him you know he can land the job, disciple your
children, love you well. Your belief in him is half the battle.
4. Pray for your husband to respond to God’s work in his life.

© 2017 by Barbara Rainey. All rights reserved.

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  1. That’s the unconditional part of loving your spouse. That’s what we are meant to do when we say “I do.” It’s tough stuff, but there’s nothing like having someone stand by you through thick and thin, knowing their love is there and unconditional. After all our years of marriage, I can only say don’t sweat the small stuff, and forgive and forgive. I really had to learn how to do that and really check my tongue.
    Prayers for you!

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  2. Thank you for this devotional today. It is a great reminder and encouragement to me. Things that come easier for me, like faith, can be a struggle for my husband. Sometimes it is hard not to be impatient as we face the challenges of life together. But I must continue to trust him and his responses to God’s care, believing that He who began a good work, continues to work.

  3. Brenda Hooghuis says:

    Hi Lysa,

    Wow!!!!!! Eye opener for ME TODAY. How I SO much NEED TO Apply those truths in my life Daily. Thank You Holy Spirit for removing the blinders of denial from my eyes.

  4. Connie S. says:

    “When your husband isn’t trusting God the way YOU think he should”
    “Since when did God ask ME to set the standard?”
    WHOA!! Did I ever get hit between the eyes this morning when I read this. Talk about feeling convicted!
    Many times the meditations I read here at Proverbs 31 are not particularly “relatable” to a woman who is my age, no children at home, married for 40years, and a husband who has spiraled with loss (health issues) the past 3 years, one thing after another after another. And you look at God and say REALLY? MORE? MORE? But this morning? Oh yeah……I NEEDED this message from you, Barbara!! My husband used to pray with me, read his Bible, go to church (he could go but it would be very hard physically), on and on. However, when the health crises began to hit…and then hit again….one loss after another after another, he has become overwhelmed with his losses and inabilities to do most everything. He has been depressed, angry, uninterested in things of God, etc. Who am I to know how “I” personally would be had these major losses happened to my body and mind?
    As I read Barbara’s message this morning, I was convicted because how do “I” know what is going on in his heart and mind? Just because it “appears” that he isn’t trusting God? I cannot presume to know another person’s heart, not even my soul mate’s. After being married for 40 years, of course I DO know him better than most any other person on this earth, but how do I KNOW if he is trusting God or what his relationship with God is right now? Barbara’s message was like “bam!”….this one’s for YOU, Connie. I instantly felt grateful….convicted, yes, but SO SO grateful.
    I think your daughter, Barbara, displays SO much wisdom in her statement you referenced, i.e., “Recently one of my daughters said to me, “I’m so glad I’ve learned that when my husband acts this way, I don’t have to let his attitude control me. I’m not responsible to make him happy or help him change his behavior.”
    She is learning this at a much younger age than I. While my “head” knows these things, for some crazy reason I have just kept trying and trying to make him happy, to “help” him change his behavior, and also let his attitude control me. She is blessed to have this awareness and hopefully can “live it out” as well as just know it.
    I think as women, through every single season of our lives, we will have opportunities to examine our expectations and comparisons. I don’t have a problem being an encourager….what I have a problem with is the expectations I attach to the results. If I am positive, loving, serving without complaint (full time caretaker these days), and encouraging to my husband and he STILL is down, depressed, etc…….THAT’S when I get into trouble. I “expect” those uplifting, encouraging words to have an affect on my husband. And maybe they do? Just not the way “I” think they “should”. Those 3 words will always get us into trouble: woulda, coulda, shoulda.
    So, thank you SO much for such a convicting message this morning, Barbara.
    I will end by sharing the way I say the Serenity Prayer these days which helps me SO MUCH.
    Perhaps it may help someone else~
    “God grant me the serenity to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change,
    the courage to change the PERSON I can,
    and the wisdom to know it’s ME.

  5. Traci Lacayo says:

    My husband doesnt believe. Do I still love him, yes..Do I still respect him..yes… I love him with all the love I can have through Christ. Does it bother me that he doesnt believe? Yes it does and we have plenty of arguements about it or we used to, I dont let it get to me anymore. My faith is my business… I still respect and cherish him.

  6. This was written for me. Thank you!

  7. Wow, this article could not have come at a more poinent time in my marriage! I desperately needed to be reminded that my husband is a wonderful work in progress and that God is the one doing the work on him, not me! God is working on me too!

  8. Shirley Stallworth says:

    Hi Barb

    I am thankful that I do have a husband that loves God — we pray together every night. He has a Bible study time and yes I do suffer from “The My Way Syndrome”. God’s love is progressively carrying
    me to a relaxed state now where I can rest in letting my husband translate life in his own God-given uniqueness.


  9. I wish this was true for every marriage, but you can’t discount the abusive husband that says he’s a Christian, but abuses his family until they can’t take it any longer. I stayed and “TRIED” for 30+ years, and the only change was that it got worse.
    This devotion made me so sad because I WISH that my marriage was different….but you can not change or help someone that doesn’t want to change or get help…

    • I understand what you are saying. Yes God can work miracles but for the safety and sanity of your family sometimes it’s best to leave.

    • NEVER stop praying for him. This is a situation that only God can change.I believe that God can and will change your husband, whether your husband wants or even realizes that he needs to change. God can do the impossible (Matt. 19:26).

    • Amen!! 11 years in and we are OUT- God does not condone abuse. And often these men are so jaded by their own denial and self absorbtion that it is nearly impossible for them to change. He holds our tears in his hands- make a plan ladies- one for a safe exit for you and your babies- the Lord will guide your steps

  10. I have been married for 25 years and the struggles have been real! No matter how hard it may have gotten, my heavenly Father is who I have always turned to. Over the years I have watched my heavenly Father grow my husband. I learned to fight on my knees and 25yrs later, four grown children, thru the good, bad and ugly, I am still in love with my husband. All because I put God first in my marriage…this has been my Prayer for My Husband

    Lord bless my husband the love of my life
    I thank you that he chose me to be his wife
    I thank you that he loves me and allows me to be me
    I thank you that he loves you because you set him free

    Lord I pray that our wedding vowels he will never break
    I pray that he will not shut down but always communicate
    I pray that the sinful things of this world he will not partake
    I pray he never feels like marrying me was a mistake

    Lord, I pray that he allows you to be the head of our home
    I pray his strength in you Lord and from you he will never roam
    I pray that for everything he will go to you in prayer
    And when he feels lonely – will know that you are right there

    Lord, I pray for our family that he will always provide
    I pray he will know when life gets tough he will never leave your side
    I pray he will be true, confident and stands tall
    And knows that you will be there to catch him just in case he falls

    Copyright © 2009 Monica Brewer

  11. Over 50 years of marriage, 30 as Christians, I have been through many Bible Studies and daily Bible reading. I love to be involved in serving God. I have prayed & desired my husband would be the spiritual leader of our home. He is a wonderful husband & father but I feel so sad that he didn’t take my hand & be my leader. I know it’s not too late. Lord forgive me, I put my trust in you to work in this situation.

  12. Judy Moyer says:

    thanks, I needed that!!

  13. Andrea Veldhoen says:

    Thanks for this message. It is the encouragementI needed in my marriage right now. It was an answer to my prayer that I would see my husband’s faith more in our family. I will leave it in God’s hands and just pray and support him.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for encouraging words! I need this today to remind my self to continue to pray!
    Thank​you! It’s a good word!!

  15. Thank you! I needed to hear this, this morning.

  16. I haven’t read all the responses so I may be the only one saying this. This devotional makes me uncomfortable. It seems a little self righteous. Yes there is some powerful truth intermixed but the overall vibe would mortify my husband. My failures and his failures are no different. His needs for me to be a better wife and mother are equally as crucial to the success of our marriage. It just felt a little one sided that’s all.

    • Sue,

      I have to agree with you. While God clearly has a role for the husband to lead the household, I appreciate the roles we share in doing that. While “we”
      lack the power to change another person (only the power of Christ and the spirit can do that), my husband and I (though each FAR from perfect) do hold each other accountable for our weaknesses. While I am not privy to the mind of God, I tend to believe that he has a greater vision for how a marriage works than what is implied in today’s devotional.

    • Sandi Morris says:

      No,no you are not alone. I felt the same way and also left a comment.

    • Sue, I felt the same way. I don’t usually respond to the devotionals, but after 15 years of emotional abuse during a 29-year marriage, I had to accept that sometimes God needs to take us out of the picture to do His work.

  17. Jean Sohnen says:

    I love this devo… it resonates with me as I have been sharing with others of late…”our husbands need us to be cheerleaders, not coaches”. Thank you for your words of wisdom. And may we all remember…”grace, grace, grace”…😍

  18. WOW! This hit me hard! … Right in the gut and in the heart!! … Thank you for your wisdom and sharing this message. It is definitely what I needed to hear!

  19. Your message truly blessed me, thank you.

  20. Susan G. says:

    Oh such truths for all of us wives!
    My husband doesn’t go to church, read the word, or teach or train our kids or grandkids (two have lost their father) in the ways of God, but I have realized after 42 years of marriage, all I can do is pray that he will have a hunger for the Lord and His Word…and try to model this myself without failing too much!
    Thanks for this!

  21. Michelle says:

    I needed to read this today. Thank you.

  22. This was right on time! Thank you for your transparency!!!

  23. Catriona says:

    Thank you for this devotion. I know that God was waiting for me to read it as I’ve spent the last couple of hours wondering why my husband isn’t acting the way I think he should. God’s word doesn’t mess about and I repent of trying to set the standard that I think my husband ought to be achieving and I’m certainly not perfect! Thank goodness we have a patient and loving Father in Heaven.
    Thank you again x

  24. Living for Jesus says:

    Only by the Lords grace and mercy I no longer have abused in my marriage after 30 years. I now have a very loving caring marriage . It’s been almost 9 years and all that is behind us . Only because the sweet Jesus.

  25. Messages like this are dangerous for a wife who is being abused by a “Christian” husband. She is already being told all of this by him, by well-meaning friends, her pastor… after having begun the excruciatingly painful process of removing myself and our daughters from our home because of my husbands emotional abuse which always included “biblical” guilt, messages like this are salt in a wound when no exception is brought up by the author.

  26. Ane Samsel says:

    Thank you, I needed that reminder. I’ve been married over 20 years and I am very blessed by God. I have tended to have “fairy tale” expectations for a good portion of my life. He really was a night in shining armour. He married an abandoned broken hearted girl with a a young son. Has loved him as his own. He has been my rock, even when I acted ugly towards him. God has lead me through a lot of healing over these last year’s. I view everything less judgmentally. We are all a work in progress and life is a lot more fulfilling when we encourage each other rather then criticizing each other. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but it is greatly blessed. Keeping my focus on God, issues get settled by prayer, not nagging. Trust God and let him fill your heart with love.

  27. I love my husband with all my heart. We have been married almost 20 years. Although there are times he drives me absolutely insane and I find my patience wearing thin with him at times. Thanks for reminding us the importance seeing the good in them continually and not taking them for granted. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  28. On time

  29. Margarita Cruz says:

    I wonder if a husband that has gone back to drugs and drinking and bad behavior is to be treated the same way? My husband does not want to change obviously, though he says he does he continues to drink do drugs call me bad names when he’s mad and say I’m a fake Christian cuz I don’t want to tolerate his behavior I am confused on how to live like this my children and I feel so confused and like were not really free to live for God in this situation my kids are 18,19 and 21 I’ve been laughing but I still am confused about what to do!!

    • You need to go read up on emotional abuse and take a hard look at the “Domestic Violence Power and Control Wheel” also look at the “Equality Wheel” these things opened my eyes to the truth of my husbands heart- even though my gut told me the opposite of what my head and heart were telling me for years- it turns out my instincts were right!! I feel like a human again since I left him! And my babies now have the chance at a healthy, happy life. Even though we desperately want something to work- it comes down to the fact that when we said “in sickness and in health” it didn’t mean we would trade our health for his sickness!

  30. I wish I would have read this in October.i had been struggling for 6 years of marriage t my narcissist husband and after having suffered a heart attack due to stress in October.i finally made a decision to call it quits.i couldn’t handle it anymore.and. Prayed and prayed for us and even now I.Pray for him to open his heart because deep down we love each.other just can’t get along for some reason

    Sometimes I feel guilty that I maybe didn’t trust God enough to fix us so. Quit. Yes I have found myself happier know that I’m able to serve God more but there is still that guilt I feel to have lost the only person I have given my heart to. I only pray God show me what I’m supposed to do now. I still feel lost not knowing if I did right on going thru this separation


    • You know you’ve done the right thing because of the rest of your response.
      You mention you’re happier and able to do work for the Lord. If you weren’t able to say that before leaving the relationship, you have done the right thing.

  31. I understand the general thoughts of this piece, and I agree. However, I wish the writer had included a disclaimer with regard to behaviors that are abusive in any way, including physical, emotional abuse and/or addiction of any kind. The prescribed response of a wife to a husband who is doing anything harmful should not ever be silence. I don’t think Barbara’s intention was to imply such, but without specifically stating otherwise, it came off as another Christian telling wives to put up with whatever their husbands do because he is the spiritual head of the family. I tried doing that for 15 years of a 29 years marriage due to addiction, and in doing so, I took upon myself the blame for his behavior. Four years after the marriage ended, I can look back and see the pressure on me to take all the blame. No one should give up quicklt, and prayer is a mighty weapon, but no one should feel like she has to endure abuse of any kind because a man refuses to admit his sin and want to change. I was bothered by this blog post because it may worsen a woman’s already fragile heart and mind if she is struggling in a relationship that is destructive.

  32. Thank you to all of the ladies who brought up husbands who are abusers, whether emotional, verbal or physical. I am currently going through the early stages of divorce and separation. After reading this morning’s devotional I was feeling convincted that I had not continued “cheerleading” my husband of 6 years, faulting myself for speaking up and requesting counseling which ultimately ended our marriage. Sometimes this behavior only encourages a man’s selfish tendencies and gives them an even greater feeling of entitlement. While the advice given is wonderful for a relationship between two spiritually healthy God serving individuals, it is not good advice for women in a one sided or abusive relationship. Thank you again to all of you ladies who commented on this and helped me regain my confidence that I am not going against God’s will for my life by removing myself and my children from a toxic environment!!

    • ❤️ Me too Sara! God does not intend for us to live “under our husbands thumbs” I am clinging to Jeremiah 29:11- it’s my “divorce verse”! Stay strong, he will lead your steps and make your paths straight!

  33. Tiwanda Saxton says:

    Oh my! I was just caught in the act,handcuffed, and convicted! Don’t tell me that someone’s yesterday can’t help you tomorrow! Thank you for sharing your story. It is just what the doctor ordered!

  34. Michelle Nietert says:

    I love what you daughter shared about not letting our spouse’s attitude control us. Wise words!

  35. SunnyLou says:

    Just what I needed. Being a pastor’s wife, I definitely see myself putting expectations on how my husband should lead our family and deciding where he falls short. Lord, help me stop this! Thank you so much for this!

  36. timing was on point for me with this. i get what is meant and understand where i lack as a wife. i just get so uneased by the way i’m talked at and my children. there is no need to yell and curse after years of salvation. am i wrong for feeling like this? makes me want to leave and i love my husband.

    • Melissa Schaffer says:

      My husband was aged years and years ago at 19, he’s 50. His dad was a pastor as well. He still loses his temper and cusses at me after being together for almost four years. I don’t take it personally like I used to because I prayed a lot about it. It’s some kind of woundedness in him. He was very badly hurt by his ex wife. I just trust him and pray for him and try and understand where his heart is. I don’t think you should leave your husband although I admit I have thought of it on bad days!! I’m here and I’m so so glad I stayed as he continues to improve and becomes even more of a loving husband. God bless!

  37. rosetta morrison says:

    Hy my name is lynn from al thank u so much forvthe mesage. I can idenfly isnt hasn been easy. My husband had stared drinking a few years ago but hesvstop now. But we have a son toghether. And hes talj s bad to him. And im to thevpoint i cant take it no morevtge abuse from his mouth. I keep thinking its gonna ger bettrr. Im just worried whatsvit doing to my son itvhaecgot some bettr but things stillb not right. I feelbhevdont love me. And i keep praying. Bad. I just dont knowvwhatvtovdo anymore. Thank u

  38. What if you are not married? And you try to make have faith & hope and believe. He says he trying to make things work, but is never home at befor 7pm and is always drinking & gambling. Should one still stick it out especially with a 21month old? After 4 years and no change. When is enough, enough? No matter how much i love him or try to offer positive encouraging things to do. It doesnt work. I cant change someone. Only him & god can. I pray for him, but in the mean time the child & i suffer? Especially the child forget about me. I will not suffer but for my child to not have the father he needs when this child loves his daddy soo much…hurts! Torn….

  39. Barbara – thank you for this message. It hit me right between the eyes and in the gut. Something I will definitely meditate on for some days. Lord, please forgive me and help me to forgive myself.

    To all the ladies posting about abuse, drugs, alcohol, gambling, drinking, name calling and swearing….I have been in those type of relationships more than once with and without children. I needed to understand God’s everlasting, enduring love for me. And His desire to give me hope and a future. Leaving situations like these requires courage and support and a plan. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.

  40. God cares

  41. Melissa Schaffer says:

    I was going through these devotionals I haven’t read as I just joined a couple weeks ago. I stop on the ones that speak to me and this truly struck my heart. I was literally keeping score just this morning of all the stuff I do compared to the stuff he does. I was also just reading an article now in the instant benefits of quitting smoking. My husband is a heavy smoker and I pray for him all the time. I was about to share the article with him when I realized he would probably feel I was nagging again. I instead am praying for him. Thank you so much for this word.

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