“A successful marriage is always a triangle: a man, a woman, and God” (Cecil Myers). Think about your marriage in relationship to that definition. Is your marriage “successful”? Is God leading you in your marital relationship? And even if your spouse isn’t walking in spiritual obedience, have you invited God to lead you in your part of your relationship? That’s a hard thing to do, but it’s important. We all share a spiritual responsibility within our marriage.
In this particular Insight we’re focusing on the subject of spiritual responsibility in marriage. I (Steve) will address the husbands and Cindy will address the wives.
Spiritual Responsibility in Marriage
So first off:
Men, do you 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.
Jesus said that you are “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. That means that today could be good day to start. It’s better late than never!
I can relate (and hope you can related to something Eugene Peterson wrote in his interpretation of the scriptures in Ephesians 5:
“Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.” (Ephesians 5:26-27 MSG)
“God feels passionately about the one you married. If you doubt His care and concern, consider this: He sent His only Son to die on behalf of your spouse. Think about how you treated your wife this week. Is that how you want your daughter to be treated by her spouse? Never forget: you didn’t just marry a woman; you married a daughter of God. Treat her, accordingly.” (Gary Thomas)
(2) We strengthen our marital intimacy as we follow Christ’s example and lovingly pray for our bride and wash her in the word of God.
We create a stronger bond by doing this 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 when you share the word of God with her, you can still pray a blessing silently over her. You can ask God to show you how to bond you closer together.
Spiritual Responsibility for Connection
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 wrote in one of the comment sections of the Marriage Missions web site. 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 naked for every man to look at. If I don’t cover her each and every day then spiritually, I’m sending her out naked 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. It’s 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: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Couples written by Gary Thomas.
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.
And here’s one last thought as we talk about “washing” and the effect it can have on our wife.
“Jesus said, ‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.‘ (John 13:14,15) Marriage provides opportunities every day for both spouses to practice this admonition. The challenge is not to keep on loving the person we thought we were marrying, but to love the person we did marry.” (Gary Thomas)
As we take spiritual responsibility in our marriages, other problem areas often 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.
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. That is especially true 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 my responsibility to shame or throw accusations at my husband for not being spiritual enough. And it isn’t yours either. Here’s something Gary Thomas wrote on this issue:
“If God’s attitude toward you in your sin mirrored exactly your attitude toward your spouse in his or her sin, where would you be with God? If you think you are a stronger, more mature Christian than your spouse, I know this: you compare yourself to your spouse instead of comparing yourself to Christ. Nowhere does the Bible urge you to compare yourself to your spouse. Stop comparing your spiritual maturity with your spouse’s; instead, start comparing your spiritual maturity with Ephesians 4:1-3. If you do that, you will change the climate of your marriage.” (From the book, “Cherish”)
It is written in Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV):
“… I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.“
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.“
Spiritual Responsibility to Gently Restore
What I see from those scriptures is that we are to be GENTLE as we try to “restore him.” But we’re also warned to watch ourselves. That is because we could be tempted to do what we shouldn’t. It’s tempting to say more than we should. It’s also tempting say things in the wrong manner or timing. We will often point out the “speck” in his eye; but then we have a “log” in our own eye. That’s called hypocrisy. God warns us against that in the Bible.
“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)
Also, don’t allow the problems you see in your husband to distract you from living Christ. If you feel you have to 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 you are to say something and when you are to be quiet. Just because it comes to mind to say something—it doesn’t mean we should. Pray, and let God lead you in this.
Your Spiritual Responsibility
As you interact with your spouse it’s your (and my) responsibility to do what we’re told in 1 Peter 3:8-9:
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.“
We pray that each of you will be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in carrying out your spiritual responsibilities.
Above All, Remember:
“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 forever and ever. Amen.“ (1 Peter 4:11)
This IS your spiritual responsibility within your marriage.
Steve and Cindy Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
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7 responses to “Spiritual Responsibility in Marriage”
(USA) I am so glad that God led me to this website. My marriage is in a struggle right now and I have read so many helpful things on here already. It’s not always comfortable when God shows us our wrong attitudes but it’s always helpful if we will allow Him to talk to us and we will truly listen. To be honest, even though I’ve been quick to say through all our struggles that “I’m not perfect” and “I know I have problems”, I have been almost 100% focused on what I consider faults in my husband.
This week I began praying for God to show ME what I need to do to change and I believe He has began to do so through articles on your website. Thanks for sharing what God has given you. Sherry
(UNITED STATES) I am so overjoyed just by reading material that is so vital in everyday living. I was sitting at work reading my Bible and I wanted to text my husband something spiritual because we have been having some marital problems. My husband and I have been married for ten years and I consider this to be a blessing that God has bestowed upon the two of us. I am struggling to find peace and happiness in my marriage.
I am so happy to know I don’t have to try to confide in others about my marriage because it seems to make the situation an invasion of marital privacy. I know now that I have this website to look forward to when I am in need at all times. I will continue to pray to make our marriage stronger and I will refer a work associate or relative that is married to this website. Thank You.
(BAHAMAS) I AM GETTING MARRY PRETTY SOON I WANT TO KNOW THE RESPONSIBILITIES AND THE ROLE OF THE WIFE AND THE HUSBAND AS WELL.YOUR ASSISTANCE WILL BE VERY HELPFUL. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE,
(USA) Hi Trinnette, I pray your marriage will be a good one and that you are both going into this marriage with your eyes and minds as wide open as possible, knowing that you are entering into a marriage partnership for life. Beyond the wedding, you will have a lot of differences that you need to work through to make your marriage partnership a good one. For this reason, now is the time to prepare as much as possible so you are as prepared as you can be.
As far as telling you the “responsibilities” and “roles” that each of you will have as husband and wife, that is difficult advice for anyone to give you because it varies according to the influences of different cultures, plus various expectations, ways in which you were raised, circumstances that are occurring in your lives, etc. Ephesians 5, and 1 Peter 3 tells you some of what is expected, as well as other parts of the Bible, but beyond that, it varies.
What I would strongly encourage you to do is to first read through the section of the web site “Is He or She The One.” You might think this is a bit late to be determining this question, since the wedding is scheduled to happen soon, but you haven’t said your vows yet, so it isn’t too late to be as sure as you can. A wedding can be canceled. But a marriage is different. God expects us to “count the costs” and examine all the issues we can BEFORE marrying, rather than living with regrets afterward because we didn’t want to, or were afraid, or too idealistic to do so.
After that, I highly recommend that you go through the sections titled “Preparing for Marriage” as well as “Marriage Preparation Materials.” As you and your intended work through the topics and the questions in these sections, you will also work through the issues of what each of your “roles” and “responsibilities” will look like. You will know what he expects and he will know what you expect, and together you can work through what is realistic.
This is VERY important, because it will bring up issues that you will need to know about each other. I hope you won’t marry without working through these issues (and there are many of them that are presented in these sections). You want to know each other as best as you can before marrying (and make sure you know how to work through issues that you disagree on in healthy ways). It would be better to delay (or cancel) the wedding, than to enter into a marriage that shouldn’t happen.
Also, you have to know that almost nothing is set in stone on these roles and responsibilities. They can change with different things that can occur… the birth of children, the loss of jobs, the loss of health — both physical and mental, as well as emotional, deaths in the family, the busyness and traumas that life can throw at you, etc. Stuff happens… a good marriage will have flexibility built into it. In a healthy marriage, you will find and make ways to give each other grace and space when needed through certain seasons and circumstances.
I’d recommend that you and your intended spouse read through the sections “For Married Women” (for you to read) and “For Married Men” (for him to read). You could find them helpful as well.
Trinnette, I love the fact that you want to know these things BEFORE you marry. So many people enter into marriage without exploring and examining expectations as they should, and that leads to A LOT of heartaches afterward. There is enough of that which goes on even in the best of circumstances, but you don’t want to take on more than you should just because you didn’t examine these things beforehand. May God bless you in your efforts to learn what is necessary before entering into this sacred union.
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
(UNITED STATES) I’ve been a Christian for almost 18 years now. I came to know Jesus shortly after my husband and I got married. He did not. Although he was reared in church and his family is of a strong faith, he never gave his life over. I took the kids to church, monitored their movies, music and friends. My husband has always supported me and backed me when it came to these things but he wouldn’t go to church or give his life over to The Lord.
Now I’m struggling, cause I feel hopeless where my husband is concerned. I know I’m wrong for feeling this way but I’ve found myself at a place spiritually that I’ve never been. I no longer attend church regularly. I’m not interested in hearing sermons about spouses coming to The Lord because of the faithful other spouse. I know I’m wrong for feeling this way. I try to believe but I feel defeated. I feel somewhere down the line I’ve messed up and it doesn’t seem to get better. I’m at a loss. My husband told me last night he doesn’t like the pressure he feels when I don’t attend church cause he knows he should be taking his family. He said he wishes it was like it used to be when I was so faithful to church cause it made him feel good. I didn’t even know how to respond! Anyway, I would appreciate your prayers. By the way, the kids are grown except for one still at home.
So you had a good husband but because he didn’t sit at church with you on Sundays, you messed up the marriage? Has it occured to you that maybe he didn’t want to hear the usual “man beat downs” that are in most sermons? Living right is more important than a building. Remember this when you meet wives that have been beaten on or cheated on. Quit trying to have (coveting) what the other church wives have…a man at church…and be thankful yours is at least home!
I disagree with their approach because it was politically correct. The man is head meaning he shouldnt have pray and hope his wife behaves…He is to instruct and she “obeys”….a word women dont like. Christ is not responsible for Judas’ sin. Don’t give men more responsibilty over a wife than Christ has over us. The wife can be wrong and even sin!! Only so much a husband can do with today’s wives.