Are you frustrated because your spouse doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? You do, and yet nothing that you say or do seems to move them any closer to making that same decision? Do you sit back and wonder how they’ll ever come to faith in Christ if you don’t keep trying to push them forward? We’re told in God’s word that sometimes a spouse can be won without a word.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 3 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.”
Won Without a Word
Those verses have to be some of the most difficult verses to live by, because it takes such discipline, restraint, faith, and denial of instinctual behavior to live like that! And yet it’s what God asks of wives. (And the same can apply to husbands in the reverse role.) You wrestle inside with wondering, “How will they hear if I don’t say something? How will they know if I don’t spell it out for them? How will this happen if I’m not directly involved in making it happen?”
Those are good questions —ones you can ask the Lord someday when you’re spending eternity with Him.
But from what I can see from the scriptures and from being with so many that have lived out the experience of being married to someone who isn’t a follower of Christ, it has to do with our trusting God to draw our spouse to Himself and using our lives as a light to attract them. That’s what happened in my marriage and in others I know of.
Nancy Kennedy, (who is an author of the book, When He Doesn’t Believe, and who more importantly knows first-hand about all of this because of living this experience out for so many years with her husband) said the following about this principle.
“Nobody was ever nagged into the kingdom of God. Nobody was ever manipulated into the kingdom of God. We come to Christ because we are shown grace. We are shown love, and we are shown mercy. And if our spouse is on the receiving end of criticism and manipulation —they’re going to run. And the harder we try, the faster they run. So if I were coaching somebody, I’d say, “Stop, because God knows what He’s doing.” That, I think, is what has sustained me and has caused me to relax. God knows what He’s doing.
“I didn’t come to Christ until I was 23. Somebody else might not come to Christ until they’re 33, 83, 93, 103. It’s all in God’s timing. He has a plan. He knows how He’s going to work it out, and He will use us. God doesn’t need us, and that’s another freeing truth —that God can run the universe without me. He doesn’t need me.”
I’m sure that there are a few people that have been “nagged” into the kingdom of God. But that’s the exception, rather than the rule. It took a drawing from the Lord for it to accomplish anything fruitful in the first place.
There’s something else you might find helpful that Nancy said in an interview she did on a radio broadcast for Family Life Today.
Nancy Kennedy said:
“I am a newspaper reporter. My beat is religion, and I have written the Christian testimonies of well over 400 people. When I do a story of a man who has come to faith in Christ after his wife, I always ask, ‘What was it about your wife? What did she do? What did she say to help you come to faith?’ And every single man that I have talked to says the same thing —’It’s not what she said, frankly, I tuned her out, but it’s how she loved me. She just loved me. Even when I was cruel, she loved me.’
“So what I would say is love your spouse —love your spouse into the kingdom and let God deal with him or her —because I know we’re talking to men who are married to unbelieving women. When I think back to my own testimony, nobody was actively sharing the Gospel with me. Therefore, I don’t have to.
God doesn’t need me to share the Gospel with my husband. He may give me many opportunities. He has given me many opportunities to speak, and God will give plenty of opportunities to speak but, for a general rule, we’re just to live out our Christianity and be who God has created us to be and to feel comfortable. I think we need to come to a place where we are comfortable in our relationship with the Father and come to a place where we just enjoy being with God. That speaks volumes.”
There is a lot more that Nancy had to say in the interview (which was originally aired on June 23, June 24, June 25, and June 26 of 2003) that you may really benefit from learning. Right now, the ministry of Family Life Today Familylife.com is revamping their web site, so we’re hoping they will eventually have these interviews available again. And when they do, we will post the links to them as soon as possible.
However, they had a supporting document which they used to make available that we will provide below that we pray will help you in the meantime.
Here is what the ministry of Family Life Today formerly made available on their web site on the subject of “Won Without a Word”:
WON WITHOUT A WORD
Are you frustrated and discouraged that your husband doesn’t believe in Christ? Use these scriptures and practical tips as a daily reminder to have Christ-centered thoughts, motives, and actions as a wife of an unbelieving or spiritually passive husband. You will be encouraged that God sees your needs and hears your prayers.
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us… (Ephesians 3:20)
Pray for a hedge of protection from evil around your husband (Job 1:10).
I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)
Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us (Psalm 62:8b).
For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer (1 Peter 3:12a).
Ask God to help you find a mature, godly woman who is well grounded in God’s word, and ask her to meet with you weekly or twice a month for prayer.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).
But as for me, my prayer is to Thee, O LORD at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Thy loving-kindness, answer me with Thy saving truth (Psalm 69:13).
Pray Colossians 1:9 for the one you love.
Prayer is a privilege to approach God’s throne, and an effective weapon against an unseen enemy, and a means of communicating our fretful hearts to a loving Father.²
Set a guard over my mouth. O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3 NIV)
Pray for God to make you the wife you should be (Psalm 27:11).
Give your unmet expectations and dreams to the Lord in prayer. Don’t let the world influence them (Romans 12:2).
Give thanks for the things that you and your husband are in agreement on in your marriage and home.
Did you say or do something that you shouldn’t have? Dump your feelings at God’s feet, ask His forgiveness, and accept His cleansing (1 John 1:9).²
When my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2b).
That the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of His calling — what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe (Ephesians 1:18,19).
Hope and Encouragement
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me? (Jeremiah 32:27)
For the battle is the Lord’s … (1 Samuel 17:47)
For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. I have plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Philippians 4:11)
God is ruling over the circumstances in your life; trust in His sovereignty. (Daniel 4:35)
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. (Psalm 128:1-2)
My hope is from Him. He is only my rock and my salvation. (Psalm 62:2)
None of those who wait for Thee will be ashamed. (Psalm 25:3)
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage. (Psalm 27:13-14)
I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)
You were tired out by the length of your road, yet you did not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewed strength, therefore you did not faint. (Isaiah 57:10)
Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has given to us. (Romans 5:5)
For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. (Psalm 103:14)
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed. (Isaiah 54:10a NIV)
…Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
- God is a God of hope and power, and strength.
- He sees your heart, hears your cries.
- He will bring laughter and song to you because He loves you. ²
God is whispering, “I’m here. I’m in control. I’m holding on to you and won’t let go. ²
Your husband is a gift from God even if you married him without asking God.
God refreshes us when we are weary (Isaiah 40:31).
You are called by God to be godly and to be a loving companion to your husband.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 NIV).
Your faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:21b).
The LORD will accomplish what concerns me (Psalm 138:8).
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him (John 6:44)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him (Psalm 103:11).
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Study God’s word and scriptures about our behavior and thinking. Ground yourself in God’s Word by always doing a Bible study that requires application. (Psalm 119)
Live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8)
Not returning evil for evil, or insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
Won without a word … as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. (1 Peter 3:1-2)
Your adornment —a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3)
Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. (1 Peter 3:10 NIV)
Seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:11)
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:12 NIV)
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. (Proverbs 31:26 The Message)
The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the fear of God. (Proverbs 31:30 The Message)
Don’t give your husband advice unless he asks for it.
As you think about your husband today, remember what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute —all those things that are praiseworthy and excellent. (Philippians 4:8).
Tell your husband what you admire about him and the things he does really well.
What did your husband ask you to do for him today? Sew on a button or pick up his clothes at the dry cleaners? Whatever it is, remember that in your home his needs are your number one priority.
Satan sends us negative thoughts and criticism. Refuse to entertain them (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Respect is your husband’s greatest need from you and is commanded by God.
Got the blues? Get in your favorite chair, drape your legs over one arm and lean back. Imagine you are sitting on your heavenly Father’s lap. Talk to Him. Drink deeply of His sufficiency and comfort.²
Keep in Mind:
When you react to your family’s actions in anger, it stirs up dissension and you commit a sin. (Proverbs 29:22)
Are you resentful about something in your life? It means you have started to think of yourself more highly than you ought. You are the Lord’s bondservant and you have given the rights to your life over to Him. In love He will forgive you, when you ask…²
Become involved in at least one of your husband’s interests.
Never correct your husband in front of others.²
Dream with him, even if you think they are far-fetched. That’s what makes them dreams.¹
Say thank you often to your husband.²
Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this —not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother’s way. (Romans 14:13)
Let your children hear you praising your husband.
Love… do good… expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great. (Luke 6:35)
Love is intentional regardless of feelings.
Learn your husband’s love language (Gary Chapman, Five Love Languages).
Love As God Does
Submit to your husband. “Submission is an act of worship whose primary purpose is to honor God.”³
Your thoughts determine your attitudes.
Reminisce about your favorite romantic times with your husband.
Live your faith quietly. Don’t preach to your husband. (1 Peter 3:1)
By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos… (James 3:6 The Message)
It’s not the tongue that’s the problem —it’s our hearts.¹
When you are discouraged, put on a praise CD and sing along. (Psalm 57:7)
Also Keep in Mind:
Respecting your husband means appreciating, honoring, esteeming, admiring, and valuing him. Showing respect includes being polite, attentive, obliging, and accommodating.
If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (Romans 12:18)
So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. (Romans 14:19)
Esteem your husband very highly because of his work. (1 Thessalonians 5:13)
‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.’ (Leviticus 19:18)
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. (Romans 12:17)
A gentle answer turns away wrath. (Proverbs 15:1)
For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. (Matthew 12:34)
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:6)
A Christian wife bridles her tongue. (James 1:26)
Have realistic expectations of your spouse. (Romans 8:7-8)
Pleasing your husband pleases God and gives you joy. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)
No one is a perfect Christian. Live your faith in an honest and natural way.
Make it your habit to love your husband with your actions. Start today.
Meeting your husband’s and family’s needs is your number one ministry. Don’t over commit yourself outside the home.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)
Can your husband trust his heart with you? Are you loyal? Can he say “I have no lack of gain” because of you? (Proverbs 31:11)
Do nothing from selfish or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. (Philippians 2:3)
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible® unless otherwise noted.
¹ ©2001 WaterBrook Press. When He Doesn’t Believe By Nancy Kennedy.
² Adapted from When He Doesn’t Believe by Nancy Kennedy ©2001 WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
³ ©2000 Baker Book House. Each for the Other: Marriage As It’s Meant to Be by Bryan Chapell.
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6 responses to “Won Without A Word”
(USA) I just read all of the verses and godly advice here about how to treat my unbelieving husband, and I am both convicted of the areas where I have failed, as well as encouraged about the hope I can have because of God’s Word.
I am going through a difficult time right now, as my husband seems especially bitter and hostile towards both God and me, and things appear almost hopeless. But I know with God all things are possible! So I will cling to His promises and pray for the Holy Spirit to help me show love and respect to the man God has given me. I know that by honoring my husband (even when he doesn’t deserve it because of how he treats me), I am ultimately honoring God, and this is what makes it possible for me to handle all the negative stuff that is going on emotionally.
So I am happy that an elder of my new church sent me the link to this website, because I have been very much encouraged by what I have just read, and I am thanking God for it!
(USA) Actually, this works very well. Especially for me as a wife because I am required by God to submit to my husband. Ever since I started talking to God about my problems instead of harassing my husband into “talks”, our marriage has been very good. Letting go of issues, overlooking insults etc probably made my husband wonder and now we are getting along very well. Maintaining a quiet spirit is one way of submitting to my husband and most importantly, to God’s instruction. It also relived me of worry and pressure because I know God can & will solve my problems for me.
Gradually, things are falling into place now and I laugh at myself for all my past efforts to get things right. Now I am a happy soul and I don’t let negative thoughts come to me. I concentrate on everything that is good. The sooner you learn this, the better.
(UNITED STATES) I seem to be in a boat by myself when it comes to this topic. My husband and I have been separated for over 2 years (my decision), although I see him almost every day because of our 2 children.
I have been praying and hoping, clinging to a promise God gave to me in the Good News translation of Isaiah 62:4 when I was first saved in 2004. We have been together since 1993, married since 1998, and miserable for most of those years. I am at a loss, and if there is anyone out there who has been in a similar situation, I would like to know what you did/are doing.
(USA) Hi Lisa, that is a beautiful scripture to hang onto. If the Lord gave it to you, then it has real purpose and meaning and hope for your situation. I really don’t have any advice other than to cling to God and His Word and pray. I am sure you are doing all these things already. Oh yes, and remember to pray believing. I will be praying for you today.
My own situation is different, but I am married to an unbeliever also. I needed to read these scriptures and will refer to them often. I having been asking God to give me more love for my husband and people in general. It’s been a slow road, but I made a decision today to stop worrying and fretting about all the things that go through my mind about how I am just not up to God’s snuff and trust that He is doing a good work in me and will see it through to the end. The last thing God needs is my help which tends to be of a controlling, co-dependant nature.
(USA) These comments are helpful for me in this moment as I am overcome with sadness that my husband has detached from me and is not a believer or one who will pray and who thinks divorce is the answer to his unhappiness. I’ve contributed to his unhappiness by trying to get him to work on things but he blames me for his unhappiness – so at this point, my only hope is that God will intervene and help us both to heal our marriage. I do not want divorce and pray God will change my husband’s heart. It’s just so sad for all of us who want peace and love and a healthy marriage to fight “the enemy” when he has ensnared our husbands – and at the age of 50, mine thinks he’ll find someone better – the enemy has a hold on him so I’m biting my tongue and praying through my endless flow of tears.
“Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that’s a decision between them and God, not us.”
“…whom God has joined together let no man put asunder…”. Question: Was it God, or an act of the flesh, that joined them? Find out God’s answer to this question, and everything else / related decisions become more in line with scripture. Hint: Whom did God join together?