By Theresa Boedeker
I thought my husband needed to change. But it turned out that I was the one who needed to change first. Here’s encouragement for you.
When We Want Our Husbands to Change
My husband said he needed to stay home from church. He said our daughter and I could go without him.
But I knew he needed to attend church.
My disappointment showed in my attitude. My face. My silence. My body language.
He reminded me that I was perfectly able to go to church without him holding my hand. He explained that law school was hard, and he had work to accomplish. And he told me that my attitude was showing how much I needed to go to church.
I grabbed our daughter’s hand and marched out of the house. “Come on, it’s only you and me going to church. Again.”
I knew I was acting childish, but I didn’t care.
When Our Motivations Aren’t Right
I wanted to attend church as a family. Sit together, worship together, be seen together.
Experience showed me that people were judged based upon whether they attended church as a family or not.
During the nine months my husband and I had a commuter marriage, my 3-year-old daughter and I had attended church by ourselves. It had been uncomfortable. People had judged me and treated me differently than when I had a husband next to me. I had felt more like an outcast and fallen woman than a vital and welcomed member.
Six years later, we had moved and were attending a new church. There were people to impress. My works-based upbringing and mom had taught me the importance of appearances.
My pouting did not convict his spirit or help him see the wisdom in my request. Nor did it make any real progress. He would attend a time or two, and then start skipping again. It was a cycle that had me on pins and needles every Sunday morning.
When We Need to Change
Slowly, I became convicted that I was being selfish. I was basing my Sunday happiness on his actions. I was not acting how Jesus wanted me to act.
I started praying for my husband. I asked God to convict him of the importance of church and to help me to cheerfully and willingly go whether my husband came or not. I asked him to help me be a godly wife and set a good example that made him want to attend.
As weeks passed, my prayer changed. It was no longer about him attending church, but for his relationship with his creator.
First Peter 3:1-2 NIV talks about how we can win our husbands over by our good example. And I embarked on this task:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
I woke up cheerful on Sunday mornings. I let him know that I would be attending church. He was welcome to attend, but if he had too much work, then I totally understood.
I came home cheerful. I refrained from any remarks about how he should have attended.
I wanted to make church attendance so attractive that he could not help but come.
How God Works On Our Hearts
God revealed many things to me. Some were not very pretty.
I saw that I had started with selfish motives. That I was setting myself up as his judge. That much of my discomfort from attending church without him was based on past experiences, which I needed to work through.
As the weeks and months passed, the one who changed the most was me.
I didn’t want to be motivated by appearances and fear.
I released my husband to God and quit taking his actions personally.
When he started attending regularly, it was because he wanted to worship his Creator and fellowship with other Christians.
He attended out of love for God, not just to keep from hearing my dissatisfaction.
He was motivated for the right reasons.
And now, so was I.
God worked on both our hearts, but it was mine that he changed the most. God can change your heart too, dear wife.
Wife Step: Look at your motivation behind wanting your husband to change and pray that God will help you see things clearly.
Theresa Boedeker has been married to her husband, her complete opposite, for over 30 years. They live in the Midwest and have two children, 15 years apart, and a few grandkids. Theresa daily hunts for humor and tries to bring forth laughter from others. She is passionate about helping women smash lies with God’s truth. Overcome shame. Learn to laugh at life and themselves. Notice God’s love and grace. And not be afraid of making mistakes. She unwraps life and faith at TheresaBoedeker.com. When she is not writing, she enjoys doing creative things like cooking, making jewelry, and taking photos of flowers (they never run from the picture).