He heaves a sigh and rolls his eyes—again—as you pray over dinner. The church doors open, and you step in alone. Hearing about how other couples read their Bibles together over coffee makes you tear up.
Spiritual singleness is a painful reality for many wives. Could God have a plan even for this? How might you use your situation for the best?
Welp, let’s break it down first. What defines best? Is it finally getting your way? Maybe relief from the constant discomfort of being at odds with your husband? God’s version of best often looks different than ours. We might crave agreement, and He’s after faith. We chase peace, and He wants to grow our courage. No matter what, He’s always, always, always after our heart.
Did you hear that? God wants your heart just as much as He wants your man’s heart. He put you two together not only so that your husband could have access to your strengths, but so that you could have access to his weaknesses. There is a way to tilt the diamond, to see this situation as a gift. How? Here are some thoughts to get you started:
- you’ve experienced God as your Husband in a much deeper way than many happily married women are able to
- if His power is made perfect in your weakness, you automatically have more access to the strength of heaven than a wife who’s never driven to her knees
- speaking of knees, your prayer life can take on a distinct richness, depth, maturity, and perseverance you wouldn’t have known otherwise
- you’ve been chosen as the best helpmate possible for your specific husband
- your relationship can help you keep relying desperately on God instead of getting stuck in the delusion of self-sufficiency
- many ladies don’t get the chance to be a major part of their husbands’ testimonies
So now for the practical stuff. Here’s how to be spiritually single:
- Be prayerful. Pray all kinds of things on behalf of your husband. Obviously and always for salvation, but also for protection and blessing and godly friends and wisdom and strength and healing and a softened heart and loads of other requests. If you don’t pray for your man, who will? This is arguably the most significant piece of your calling in marriage to an unbeliever—keep lifting him up to the throne in love.
- Be kind. Apart from prayer, your big job is to hold out Jesus to him as Someone worth following. Ever heard the saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar?” It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. He doesn’t go around griping or shaming, and neither should we. His invitations are gentle and winsome, and so should ours be. No room for judgment or impatience can exist when we recall how God saved us when we were hopelessly lost. Grace-receivers are the best grace-extenders.
- Be shrewd. Keep your eyes open for ways to package tiny bits of gospel in your wake. I’m not talking about giving an entire presentation with an altar call at the end over breakfast every Saturday. But what could you say that might make his mouth water for more? Jesus was the master at creating spiritual interest. This practice takes intention, creativity, and an ear tuned to the Spirit.
- Be repentant. Your husband might not get it, but he will definitely pay attention when you start approaching him for forgiveness in humility. We all mess up, but you get to use your mistakes as gospel opportunities. Anyone can be nice and Jesus-y when things are going well, but for your husband to watch you walk through course corrections in a way that grows your heart? That’s gold, sister.
- Be patient. How would you have felt if the person who knew you best had been perpetually exasperated at your lostness back before you knew Christ? Grant your guy permission to be where he is in the process.* I’m guessing that you’ve figured out by now that you and God have extremely dissimilar timetables. Rest in His plan and release your own agenda.
- Be mindful. Rehearsing gospel truth is absolutely crucial to your spiritual flourishing. Ultimately, you can’t be the hero in your husband’s life. You can’t save that man. You can’t change his heart, can’t open his eyes, can’t convict. But the Hero is the Savior, the heart changer, the eye opener, the One who pricks our consciences and points out our need for the cross. You are not alone in this eternal endeavor. The Spirit is able to empower you to say exactly what you need to say (and can put His hand over your mouth when necessary).
Finally, remember that God loves your husband more than you could even begin to imagine loving him. In the now-and-not-yet between Calvary and glory, there’s a beautiful marriage moment to breathe in mercy and breathe out grace, looking to our True Husband who will lead us all the way home.
*Listen: this does not mean to please put up with abuse. Please don’t put up with abuse. But show patience with everyday “lost people behavior” that naturally occurs in any heart lacking the transforming power of Christ.