How can a wife help preserve her marriage?
Many couples can trace the conflicts in their marriage to negative attitudes that slowly decayed their relationship. One woman described her experience in this way:
When I was first married, I felt that things were going to be great. I was sure that I had married the perfect man.
Our first year was like a honeymoon. The second year was a little less than that. And the third year the children began to come, and the spirit of our marriage began to fall apart. I knew in my heart that if this trend continued, our marriage would eventually end. What I didn’t know was that I was grieving my husband’s spirit in seven ways. Each one of these ways involved a sowing and a reaping as explained in Galatians 6:8.
When I began to realize what I was doing and took definite steps to change, the spirit of our marriage was restored in the most beautiful way.
By seeking to demonstrate Godly attitudes in the following areas, you will help preserve your marriage and honor the vows you made to your husband and to God. “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1).
1. Respect Your Husband
The specific roles of husbands and wives are defined in Scripture: “Let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). A wife who respects her husband’s leadership and submits to him greatly strengthens the marriage relationship.
- Praise your husband for the Godly character and abilities you see in his life. Do not focus on his faults but rather on his positive qualities. Live in the spirit of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
- Trust God to provide for your family’s financial needs through your husband’s leadership. Seek to be content with basic necessities, and set your heart on Godliness and eternal gain. (See I Timothy 6:6–8.)
- Support your husband’s ideas and become actively involved in implementing his goals in your lives. Fulfill your calling to be “a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18, ESV). If you believe his goals are not in harmony with Scripture, share your concerns in a wise appeal.
- Respond to your husband’s physical affection. Husbands and wives should willingly embrace God’s intention for their intimacy within the marriage covenant. “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” (I Corinthians 7:3–5).
A man needs his wife’s admiration. If you show a lack of respect for your husband’s decisions or if you resist his affection, he will doubt his ability to meet your needs. He may then be drawn to other women who demonstrate more respect and appreciation for him.
2. Accept Your Husband as Your Spiritual Leader
One of the most vulnerable points in a man’s life is the area of providing spiritual leadership. Your husband needs your support and affirmation in this area, because he may feel weak and insecure when he takes on these responsibilities.
- Express gratefulness for your husband’s efforts to demonstrate spiritual leadership. Thank him for his prayers. Praise his efforts to lead family devotions and prayer times. Let him know how much it means to you to see him reading Scripture, teaching your children about God, or talking to someone about the Lord.
- Encourage each step your husband takes. His leadership may not always conform to your expectations of how something should be done, but he needs your support. Even if he takes small steps, affirm him in what he is doing. Spiritual leadership is not determined so much by where a man is as much as it is determined by the direction in which he is going.
- Communicate your confidence that God is working through your husband’s decisions. At times God may reveal to you cautions about an important decision, cautions that He may or may not reveal to your husband. It is important for you to wisely share what you discern. If your husband doesn’t listen to you, be confident that God is going to work through his decision to accomplish other purposes. For example, if your husband makes an unwise business decision, it may be that God wants to remove your focus from money and place it on Himself. Have faith that God will work things together according to His purposes.
- Look for and admire your husband’s excellent qualities. Spiritual leadership involves more that prayer, reading the Bible, and witnessing. It involves the inward strength of character to stand for what is right. Whenever a man refuses to compromise Scriptural convictions, he deserves the highest praise and admiration from his wife.
If you lack confidence in your husband and resist his spiritual leadership, he can quickly become discouraged and frustrated. A man in this position often gives up on being a spiritual leader in the home and shifts these responsibilities to his wife by default.
3. Wisely and Lovingly Appeal to Your Husband
Husbands and wives should be free to speak truth into each other’s lives with honesty and openness. The companionship you share in the marriage relationship equips you to address one another’s weaknesses in a loving, affirming way that encourages growth, healing, and maturity.
- Make an appeal to your husband if you see that he is doing something that will damage his life or relationships. Base your appeal on a concern for your husband’s walk with God, his welfare, his goals, his reputation, and his authority. Wait for the right timing to make the appeal, and demonstrate an honoring and respectful attitude when doing so.
- Maintain a good relationship with your husband before the need to make an appeal arises. When you are in right standing with him and in good fellowship with him, it is more likely that your appeal will be well received.
- Demonstrate Godly attitudes of love, loyalty, gratefulness, honor, and obedience when you appeal. Do not threaten your husband or make demands. If your attitudes are not respectful, your appeal will probably have little effect. Prepare yourself to graciously receive your husband’s response to your appeal—whether it is favorable or not. An attitude of humility on your part makes it easier for your husband to share additional details or concerns that you may be unaware of and that may be influencing his perspective. (See I Peter 3:1–6.)
A wife’s words and attitudes have a significant influence on her husband’s life, and you should strive diligently to discern ways that you can bless your husband—ways you can build him up, not tear him down. As Scripture states, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). If you resort to demanding, nagging, and manipulating, your husband will probably respond in harshness or frustration.
4. Develop Inward and Outward Beauty
A Godly woman’s main focus will not be on outward fashion and beauty trends but rather on the timeless beauty of inner qualities such as faith, strength, joy, meekness, and love. The Apostle Peter wrote, “[Wives, your adorning should] not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (I Peter 3:1–4).
- Concentrate on Godly character. Develop a meek spirit by surrendering your personal rights and expectations to God. Then you can be sincerely thankful for things that are done for you. Develop a quiet spirit by overcoming fear and worry with the inward confidence that “. . . all things work together for good to them that love God . . .” (Romans 8:28).
- Maintain personal neatness in your appearance. Wear your clothes and hair in a way that honors your husband’s preferences. As an expression of how important your husband is to you, do your best to look nice when he comes home from work.
- Draw attention to your countenance. Learn which colors complement your skin tones. Concentrate on these colors when selecting your wardrobe. Put a sincerely happy, joyful expression on your face, and use your clothes and accessories to draw attention to it.
- Manage your weight on the basis of five Scriptural truths: (1) your body is made in the image of God (see Genesis 1:27), (2) your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (see I Corinthians 3:16–17), (3) your body is a member of the Body of Christ (see I Corinthians 6:15), (4) the members of your body become instruments of righteousness by yielding them to God (see Romans 6:13), and (5) you can claim the victory over the lusts of the flesh that Christ has already won (see Romans 6–8).
If you lack inward Godliness and outward neatness and modesty, your husband can lose respect for you and be more easily tempted by other women.
5. Express Genuine Gratefulness to Your Husband
An alert attitude of gratitude will do much to enhance a husband and wife’s relationship. Pay attention to the qualities your husband is demonstrating and to the things he is doing. Tell him, “Thanks!”
- Give your personal expectations to God. When you place demands on your husband to fulfill your expectations, you put him under tremendous pressure and set yourself up for disappointment. By surrendering your expectations to God, you will be freed to focus on your own responsibilities and to express genuine appreciation for the things others do for you.
- Learn to be content. Don’t compare what you do not have with what others do have. You’ll know that you’ve yielded your expectations to God when you are content with the basic necessities of food and clothing. “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (I Timothy 6:6–8).
- Set your affections on things above. When you set your heart’s focus on eternal things, you find that your life does not consist in the things that you have but in the treasures you are laying up in heaven. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1–3).
- Tell your husband how he is benefiting your life and making you rejoice in the Lord. Your praise and words of affirmation will motivate him to continue doing things that meet your needs and bring joy to your heart.
When you expect and demand that your husband does certain things, your husband becomes a prisoner of your expectations. In time, he may lose hope that he can please you, and he will react to the absence of gratitude for the things he does for you. He may even try to influence you to lower your expectations by not doing the things you ask him to do so that you will stop nagging him. A man in this position becomes vulnerable to other women who show gratitude to him.
6. Accept Your Husband’s Efforts to Protect You
A man’s protective instinct drives him to guard his wife from dangers, hardships, and excessive pressures. When you accept his protection with appreciation, your husband finds fulfillment and joy in meeting your needs.
- Welcome your husband’s cautions and advice. When he tells you what he thinks about a situation or relationship, be attentive to his words and heed his counsel. Don’t belittle his insights or resist his words of warning.
- Talk with your husband about your hidden fears, pressures, and weaknesses so that he knows what kind of protection you need. Do not expect him to automatically know how to protect you. Suggest things that he can do, or avoid doing, that will provide strength and protection for you.
- Ask your husband to pray for you and with you when you are going through intense times of temptation, discouragement, or pressure. Humble yourself, and trust God to provide for your needs through your husband when He prompts you to ask for your husband’s prayers and support. God will use situations of need to strengthen your partnership in Him; a need can be a priceless opportunity of blessing for both of you.
- Do not do things that would displease your husband and would not be beneficial to you. Wives are to be “. . . discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:5).
If you do not understand or appreciate your husband’s desire to protect you, you might not heed his cautions or warnings. This resistance sends a deeply wounding message to him about his role in your life. A husband in this position often stops fulfilling his God-given role of offering warnings, counsel, and direction in his wife’s life.
7. Respect Your Husband’s Need for Time Alone With God
When a man walks in fellowship with God, his other relationships are enriched. You should encourage your husband to invest the time needed to maintain his relationship with God through prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and worship.
- Express delight when you see your husband spending time with the Lord. Tell him how much it means to you when he seeks the Lord. Let him know about the security and joy you experience when he is in harmony with God and living according to the truth of God’s Word.
- Support your husband’s efforts to deepen his walk with God. Do not discourage him from pursuing spiritual disciplines, such as finding fellowship and accountability with other Godly men or setting aside time for private devotions and spiritual renewal. Assist him by doing what you can to make these times accessible to him.
- Help your husband find a quiet place where he can study, pray, read, and think. Make sure this space is free from clutter and other distractions and that it is available to your husband regularly. Respect your husband’s time with God, and avoid interrupting his devotional routine.
A wife who becomes angry when her husband spends time alone with God does a great disservice to her husband, her marriage, and her family. Instead of feeling rejected and jealous of your husband’s time with God, rejoice when he takes on spiritual responsibilities and seeks God for himself and for his family. Without your support, your husband can soon become frustrated, and your nagging and interruptions can leave him feeling spiritually empty.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7–8).
Think of what you can do this week to sow seeds of love and harmony in your relationship with your husband:
- How can you let your husband know that you respect him?
- What can you do to show your husband that he is your spiritual leader?
- Is there an area in which you need to appeal to your husband?
- Can you do something new to develop inward or outward attractiveness?
- What personal expectation can you give to the Lord so that you will become more grateful to your husband?
- Can you tell your husband about an area in which you need his protection?
- What can you do to encourage your husband to seek the Lord?
As you intentionally practice these attitudes and actions in your relationship with your husband, you will greatly strengthen your marriage. Take time to begin applying these truths today!
This material is adapted from pages 61–64 of the Training Faithful Women Resource Manual.