Encouraging Your Spouse to Grow Spiritually
- 2007 8 May
With a voice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Doug was a man's man. He had spent the early years of his marriage working in and around the coal mines of western Canada. And though he had traveled as a young boy with his minister-father, Doug considered God irrelevant.
Doug didn't resist when his wife offered to take their young children to church. He was happy to let her. What harm could it do? After all, he thought, kids need a good moral input.
This arrangement worked fine for Doug and Jan until the children became too much for her to handle at the church service. One day she came home and said, "You have to start coming to church with me. I just can't handle these kids all by myself."
To Doug's credit, he agreed and began attending church as the bouncer for his elementary-age kids -- and that's when his world turned upside down.
Doug never expected to find "real men" at church; he expected only "pansies." What he found were rock-solid men, just like he thought he was. And so, when one of the men from church asked Doug if he wanted to join their group for a little road trip, an event sponsored by a group he'd never heard of -- a group called the Promise Keepers -- Doug said, "Sure."
In Jan's words, when Doug came back from that event, "everything changed." An encounter with God did something for Doug that Jan could never do. Her husband came home with a commitment to provide spiritual leadership in their home and with a renewed love for her and the children.
It might be easy to assume that Jan had little to do with this transformation in her husband's life, but I don't buy it for a second. What Jan did was to create a climate of such receptivity in her husband that, once he encountered God himself, he became an entirely different man.
It is not unusual for a wife to be further along spiritually than her husband. But there is a certain style, a particular attitude, common to wives who effectively encourage their husbands to move from spiritual apathy to spiritual passion. We've joyfully observed many husbands who have been wooed and won by the irresistible spiritual influence of their wives. These women don't try to argue their husbands into spiritual depth. They don't berate them for not being spiritual enough. They don't claim to know the answers to all the questions. They don't try to trick their husbands into "witnessing ambushes" cleverly disguised as dinner parties at the homes of Christian friends.
No, there is something refreshing about he wild honesty of these women's faith. Their husbands are attracted to the vitality of a woman whose love for God infects every part of her with a deeper passion, so that she wants to be more patient, more understanding, more winsome, and able to laugh at herself more readily.
What spiritually resistant men usually fear is not that their wives will become too bright and too alive by knowing Jesus but that they will become too boring, one-dimensional, and adventureless. So if your husband is put off by God or by the church, find out what will turn him on spiritually -- and wait for your wooing witness to have it's effect.
Honor and Respect Your Husband's Pursuit of God
Even if you grew up going to church every time the doors were open, you may be able to remember a time when talking about spiritual things felt uncomfortable. Whether it was being put on the spot when someone asked you to pray or responding to a "simple" Sunday school question in broad daylight, you felt embarrassed. Your husband may feel this "public spiritual insecurity" more acutely than you ever felt it.
Remember that spiritual unity does not mean spiritual uniformity. And one of the first ways to encourage your husband to grow in his relationship with Jesus is to honor his style of living out his faith. It's refreshing to see a man emboldened to take the next step spiritually as the result of a simple, encouraging comment from his wife, such as, "It's great the way you help people -- seeing things that need to be done and just doing them," or, "I love the way you cut through all the clutter and get to the real issue when we talk about spiritual things." Catching your husband doing something well and telling him that you noticed will go a long way toward affirming his spiritual growth.
If it feels as though you're on a different spiritual wavelength, don't be surprised. Spiritual intimacy, like sexual intimacy, takes time, as the two of you grow comfortable revealing to each other the parts of your hearts that no one else sees.
Taken from Most Important Year in a Woman's Life/Most Important Year in a Man's Life by ROBERT D WOLGEMUTH; MARK DEVRIES; BARBARA J WOLGEMUTH; SUSAN DEVRIES. Copyright ã 2003 by Barbara J. Wolgemuth and Susan DeVries 2003 by Robert D. Wolgemuth and Mark DeVries. Used by permission of The Zondervan Corporation.