I didn’t know my husband’s family for very long before we were married, but I always loved how his dad took his role as the spiritual leader of his family seriously. As a young married couple with a young son, I was excited to see my husband grow in his own ability to lead our family well. The years went by, we had more children, and I felt disappointed by an apparent lack of growth in that ability. We went to Mass every week, said our prayers before meals, and said an occasional rosary – all habits that had been formed in both of us since childhood. I was expecting something more, especially as I was growing in my own Faith.
As our children grew, I wanted my husband to take the lead in establishing a family prayer time, and I wanted us to pray together.
I wanted our Faith walk to look the same. Instead, I couldn’t help but feel like he was just going through the motions. I would ask him about his prayer life, and he would say that he prayed. Frustration and worry started to set in. I wanted to feel like we were on a team taking the necessary steps to lead our children to Christ. Instead, I felt like I was the only one concerned with our children’s eternal welfare. When I confronted him about it, he asked what I wanted him to do. It only made us both more frustrated because I wanted him to take the initiative and lead – not rely on me to tell him what to do. After all, he had his dad’s example, and I was just so tired from running the household and raising the kids.
My nagging wasn’t doing any good, and I felt so defeated.
I didn’t know how else to ask my husband how to be someone he wasn’t. At the same time, I knew there was some kind of spiritual life within him, but it wasn’t up to me to bring it out. So I prayed, and I kept praying. I asked God to work in the heart of my husband, so that he would become the spiritual leader of our family that God was calling us to. Then I focused on the things that I could do. I worked on incorporating prayer times into our day – to start the day, before meals, etc. I would try to include elements of our Faith around the house – a cross on the bedroom wall, a picture of the Last Supper in the kitchen, and religious books and statues of the saints on the shelves. We would also talk about God and our Faith as the opportunities presented themselves – in discipline and through the children’s questions. We did end up incorporating a family prayer time in our day as part of our bedtime routine, and my husband and I started to pray together over the phone on his way into work.
As the years have gone by, I’ve seen the growth that I’ve prayed for in my husband.
He has more of a God-focused mentality than I used to see in him. Honestly, some days I feel like he has more faith than I do as well, and encourages me in my own journey. While we are both far from perfect, we are now at a place where our faith unites us instead of being a point of contention.
Understanding. Patience. Prayer.
These are the three main things that helped me in my desire to encourage my husband to be the spiritual leader of my family, and they can help you too. Take the time to understand where your husband is in his faith journey and in life. Understand that it may not look exactly like your journey, and that’s okay. It may not be what you think it should look like, and that’s okay too. Ask him questions without an agenda, and be gentle with how you probe.
I know that you want to walk this journey alongside your husband, but have patience. Continue to guide your family and be an example of the type of leadership you want to see in your family. Be a witness of Christ’s love in your life by patiently waiting for God to work in your husband’s heart by being respectful of the man God is calling your husband to be.
Pray daily for your husband. Pray for peace and understanding to reign in your relationship. Pray that he takes on the leadership role that God wants him to have in your family. Also pray for your own heart – for God to give you insight into that role as He sees it and not as you see it. Pray that, together, God brings you closer to Himself, and guides you as you lead your children closer to Him as well.
The specifics of your journey will look different than mine.
Some of it may feel easier, and some of it may feel more difficult. Regardless, God has chosen you for your particular journey with your spouse, and He will always be by your side working through both of you if you let Him. My greatest encouragement to you in this is to not give up. It may take weeks, it may take months, it may even take years before you see the fruit. Know that God sees you and blesses you through it all.
In the day to day it can feel hard to keep going. You may desire a mentor or someone to lean on during the difficult days, and ask questions of when things don’t seem to make sense. If so, did you know that I offer 1 to 1 coaching where you can receive weekly, even daily support and encouragement as you work on the details of a well-ordered life? I invite you to click here to learn more.