Q: My spouse is struggling spiritually. What can I do to help?
A: Have you ever felt like something was missing in your life, like a part of your marriage is empty and you don’t know what? Maybe you can relate to this e-mail we received:
“My marriage is going through a crisis. I was first attracted to my husband because of his vibrant love for the Lord and his willingness to serve through worship bands and Bible studies. He was on fire. Then, after we had our children, he stopped sharing what God was doing in his heart. He would still attend church, but he definitely seemed preoccupied with responsibilities at work. Now it’s as if he purposely fails to connect spiritually with me. I know that something is going on in his heart. I fear that he has been hiding something from me to protect himself from some sin—perhaps a worry or a lie. My children are showing signs of his spiritual apathy. I miss my godly husband. How can I support him when he is struggling so deeply and won’t open up to me?”
We encouraged this wife to intercede on behalf of her husband through prayer. Before you try to fix it, before you try to express what you think is wrong, before you step into any horizontal communication with a struggling spouse, you pray. Perhaps you sense that your spouse is doubting the faith or is deeply discouraged; perhaps you fear that the presence of sin is keeping your mate from intimacy with Jesus Christ. You may not know if your spouse won’t communicate. He or she may not even know what’s triggering the problem. The best thing you can do is intercede in prayer.
Let your spouse know that you’re there for him or her. Be an encouragement. You could say something like, “I know that you’re faltering, you’re scared, you’re afraid, you don’t have the faith right now, but let me allow you to ride on my faith for a while.” That is empowering.
First Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Encourage each other and build each other up.” When your spouse is faint at heart, you can be “God with skin on” to him or her. You can comfort, pray with, and encourage your spouse. Besides, somewhere down the road, you may hit a dry patch and need your spouse to do the same for you.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!