Spiritual Responsibility in Marriage
"Successful marriage is always a triangle: a man, a woman, and God" (Cecil Myers). Think about it — is your marriage "successful"? Is God the important leader in your marital relationship? Even if your spouse isn’t walking in spiritual obedience, have YOU invited God to be a leader in your relationship, even if He is the silent partner until your spouse spiritually wakes up? Think about it.
This week we’re focusing on the subject of spiritual responsibility in marriage. I (Steve) will address the husbands and Cindy will address the wives. So first off: HUSBANDS: Spiritually bathe your wives. I’ve been told many times that a HUGE concern expressed by women is that their husbands are contributing little, if anything, to the spiritual health of their marriage. They say things like, "He’s a great husband but he doesn’t give me what I need spiritually." There are two things I’ve come to understand about this subject (through my own struggles in this area):
(1) One of the hardest things for husbands to remember when it comes to our bride is to do what Christ showed us by His example: "to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of the water from the word" (Ephesians 5:26). For some reason many of us husbands neglect doing this. But each day is a new beginning so today could be good day to start. It’s better late than never!
(2) As we follow Christ’s example and lovingly pray for our bride and wash her in the word of God, we strengthen our marital intimacy and bond more than almost anything else we can do for her. To wash our wives in the Word doesn’t mean preaching to her. That can make her feel like a child if she doesn’t appreciate this. But it’s communicating the gospel with and without words. Even if your wife is hostile to your sharing the word of God with her, you can still pray a blessing silently over her and ask God to show you how to bond you closer together.
For those of you who do have a wife who would enjoy this spiritual connection, we’d like to share with you some insights that Eddie recently wrote in one of the comment sections of the Marriage Missions web site (at www.marriagemissions.com ). He wrote:
"Probably the single most important thing that my wife of twenty-eight years and I have learned, is to pray for each other out loud every day. I am supposed to be her covering. I wouldn’t want my wife going out into the world unclothed for every man to look at. If I don’t cover her each and every day then spiritually, I’m sending her out exposed for the enemy to see. We pray out loud so that we can hear with our ears and get it into our minds that we are loved and cared for. Also, we know that the enemy doesn’t know everything like our Father does, so we pray out loud so that he can hear. We do this even when we’re angry with each other. It’s amazing how hard it is to stay angry with someone when you hear them praying just for you and even harder to stay angry with someone while you’re praying God’s blessings on them for the day."
That’s great advice, isn’t it? The following are some additional tips that you might find helpful as well in uniting you and your wife closer together:
1. Find a devotional (maybe on marriage) that you can read together every night before you turn out the lights. A great one we recommend is "Devotions for a Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas. (We give a review of this devotional as well as others on the Marriage Missions web site).
2. Read scripture together. You can do this even a few verses or chapters at a time, and then share insights that come to mind.
3. When God teaches you or you learn something from His Word, be sure to share that with your wife. It may bless and enrich her life as well.
4. Ask your wife how you can be praying for her throughout the day while you’re apart.
5. Start the day by praying together (and/or end the day this way — whichever works out best). This has greatly enriched my marriage with my wife. I believe it will help yours as well.
As we take spiritual responsibility in our marriages, we may find that other problem areas will begin to resolve themselves as well. And men: love your wife enough to resist the temptation to chastise your wife if she isn’t doing what Cindy will share next.
WIVES: You are not your husband’s Holy Spirit. Yes, you are his partner and you may need to "speak the truth in love" to him at times. But sometimes we do too much horizontal talking and not enough vertical talking to the Lord over matters that bother us about our husbands. Sometimes our words can get in the way of what God intends to do if they are said when our husband’s ears are not receptive to hearing what we have to say.
It has taken me a lot of years of anguish to finally listen to the Lord over this matter. I’ve come to realize that it’s not our responsibility as wives, to shame or accuse our husbands of not being spiritual enough (if we perceive they are lacking). We ARE told in the Bible in Galatians 6:1-5, "If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load."
What I see from those scriptures is that we are to be GENTLE if we are to "restore him." But we’re also warned to watch ourselves because we could be tempted to do what we shouldn’t (like saying more than we should, or saying it in the wrong manner or timing, or pointing out the "speck" in his eye when we have a "log" in our own eye). We should be careful of our own spiritual walk so we aren’t hypocritical in our interactions.
"Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like" (James 1:22-24).
Don’t allow the problems you see in your husband to distract you from living Christ. If you feel you have to nag or berate your husband to get him to "wake up" spiritually, beware! You’re stepping into Holy Spirit territory. Be your husband’s prayer partner and ask the Lord to show you how to love him as "unto the Lord." Know when to say something and when to be quiet. God will lead you as you draw close to Him and ask and receive.
We pray that each of you will be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in carrying out your spiritual responsibilities. "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:11).
Steve and Cindy Wright