Q: My husband won’t take the spiritual leadership in our home. I want our children to have that, so I’m doing it by default. How can I encourage him to get more involved spiritually?
A: This is a very common question. Sometimes the problem is that men are shy about taking on this role. Sometimes they just don’t know how to do it because it wasn’t modeled for them in their own homes. We have heard many wives ask a very common question:
“I was hoping that you could offer me some tips for encouraging my husband to be a spiritual leader in the household. We attend church regularly together, but when I approached him about praying together on a regular basis he said, ‘Well, my family always said grace at the table. We could do that.’ But he didn’t seem as comfortable with anything else.”
Just mention the words devotions or praying out loud to a guy and many times he gets white-knuckled because he thinks back, Okay, what did my dad do? or Did my dad do this kind of thing? And if he didn’t have a dad who led his family spiritually, your husband is thinking, Who was my role model? Some men are learning and trying through men’s accountability groups or church groups. But some men aren’t the “group” kind of guys. So what can you as a wife do?
When you get in bed tonight, take your husband’s hands and say, “Honey, can I pray for us before we go to bed?” Just say a very simple prayer out loud, not lengthy, but something like, “Thank you, God, so much for my husband. Thank you for the love I have for him. Thank you for how hard he works. And I pray he has a great night’s sleep. Amen.” If you generate a tender heart and kind of show him a map on how to do it, then he can step into that pattern. This is not you leading by default; this is you showing your heart and praying on his behalf. Especially if he’s never had a role model, you can show how simple it really can be.
Then any time he initiates any kind of spiritual leadership—be it prayer, reading the Word, walking into a Christian bookstore and looking at a good devotional, getting everyone to church—encourage him. Even if he does something and you could have done it a lot better, encourage his initiative and keep your mouth shut about what may have been lacking. He may have to try it a few times before getting it exactly right. Be patient. Continue your personal walk with the Lord and uphold your husband in prayer. If you have to initiate for twenty years, then do so. Who knows? Maybe he’ll cover the last twenty years.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!