Serena sat across the table from me, understandably frustrated.
“I wish my husband would show more of a hunger for God,” she told me. “I know he’s saved, but he doesn’t seem as excited about his walk with God as I am. He doesn’t talk to me about what he’s learning or seem to have the passion that I have now that I’m involved in a small group study. I wish I knew what was going on with him and where he really is with God.”
We all have visions of what we want our husband to look like, spiritually.
But it’s very possible we have expectations of our men that are too high for them to meet. That’s because we’re unintentionally expecting them to be more like women, than men.
Charles Swindoll, a former pastor and the author of numerous books, says “We men are far more closed – closed toward God and closed toward one another. But women have an openness, a warmth, a responsiveness to the things of God. Women have a desire to grow, to react, to feel, to show affection toward the things of God that is not found in the average man.” At least it isn’t often expressed by the average man.”
I share Swindoll’s quote with you to help you see the importance of having girlfriends in your life with whom you can relate on a spiritual and female level. Because chances are, your husband may not be expressing an interest in spiritual matters in the way you want him to.
Your husband’s idea of spirituality may look very different than your own. Just because he views church or the Christian life in a different way than you doesn’t mean he lacks a personal desire for God to transform his life. And he might not feel as comfortable as you do about sitting in a circle with other couples and sharing about his marital struggles at a weekly Bible study group, but that doesn’t mean he’s not praying for you and your marriage. One of the differences between women and men is that women prefer interdependency, collaboration, coordination, and cooperation, whereas men tend toward independence and autonomy. Another difference is that women tend to be more open about sharing their problems with others, while men tend to keep their concerns to themselves. Now think about those two differences alone and what they might mean in terms of what you are seeing – or not seeing – in your man’s spiritual life. Those masculine traits might be why you are not hearing a lot about his experiences with God, what he is reading or not reading in the Word, and how he might or might not desire to grow, spiritually.
Relational vs. Functional
Look with me at how women and men tend to be different when it comes to experiencing God and expressing our faith. I asked my girlfriends to tell me of the highlights of their faith and pursuit of God. This is how they answered.
- “I play worship CDs in my car on my commute to work and it keeps me focused on the Lord. Now, every day I can invite Jesus into my day and even into my car on the way to work!”
- “I’ve been waking up every morning and saying “Good morning, Jesus. How would You have me serve you today?”
- “I really love seeing how God orchestrates the conversations and events in my life, especially after I’ve made it a point of spending time with Him.”
- “I’m reading everything there is in the Bible about ‘God’s love’ and asking myself how my life would be different if I really believed and applied those truths.”
- “I have been so touched at the gentle ways God has been pursuing me and showing me He loves me and will provide for me.”
Then I asked my husband and a few other spiritual (and seemingly unspiritual) men to tell me what they consider the highlights of their faith and pursuit of God. This is how they answered:
- “I’m learning some awesome things about how the early church Fathers related to Christ.”
- “I’m discovering new truths in the Word of God daily… and I’m writing them down and thinking about them throughout the day.”
- “I’m re-evaluating my eschatological beliefs in light of the parallels I’m seeing in the Old and New Testaments that I never knew were there, and it’s making me re-examine the Person of Jesus, how I see the Kingdom of God, and the peace I now have as a believer.”
- “The Bible continues to amaze me with how relevant it is in my life, job and family.”
Did you catch the differences? The women’s answers were highly relational and experiential. They tended to talk about the relationship they have with Christ and how it makes them feel. By contrast, the men’s answers were more functional. They talked about what they were learning and discovering, as a result of study. Same God, same desires to grow. Different personalities, different approaches.
One man told me, “I had a stoplight moment during one of our small-group prayer sessions. I was trying to stay focused on prayer and my young son kept wiggling, whispering, and trying to get my attention, and I kept trying to quiet him down. Then I looked at him and noticed how he is growing quickly right in front of my eyes. And I saw myself in him. Here I am, trying to quiet him down so I can focus on prayer and all this time, God has been trying to get my attention and quiet me down so that I will listen to Him.”
I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a woman tell me something like that. Deep insights do come from men. You just might not be seeing them, or hearing about them from your husband.
Just because your man isn’t expressive about his faith in the same way that you – and your girlfriends – might be, doesn’t mean his faith isn’t as real or deep. It’s just expressed differently.
Watch for Part 2: How to Spiritually Impact Your Husband
Cindi McMenamin is a national women’s speaker and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120, 000 copies sold), When Couples Walk Together (co-authored with her husband, Hugh), and When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, from which this article is based. Her newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom releases March 1 from Harvest House Publishers. For more on her ministry to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: January 25, 2016