WHEN MY HUSBAND HAS A SIN PROBLEM
Part One of a 3-part Series
A couple of years ago I was assigned this topic for a lecture. I thought I’d share with you some of the things I learned when preparing for the class.
There are some expectations from a Christian husband:
- He’s to be the spiritual leader in the home (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-24).
- He’s to love his wife wholeheartedly (Eph. 5:25-33).
- He’s to provide for his family (1 Tim. 5:8).
- He’s to be Christlike in his attitude and behavior toward his wife (1 Pet. 3:7).
Some husbands try to live up to these expectations but fall short. Some don’t care to try at all. Some are really good in one area but weak in another. Husbands are going to mess up and sin, as we all do (Rom. 3:23). But what do you do when your husband is dealing with a sin problem?
- Don’t Seek Revenge
Some sins are hard not to take personally. When your husband’s sin hurts your heart, you may be tempted to hurt him back. There’s more than one way to seek revenge. You could say hurtful, cutting things. You know where your husband’s insecurities are so you know where to strike verbally. You could bring up sins from the past. You could retaliate by engaging in your own sinful activity and then say, “Now you know how it feels!” In your effort to make him pay, you become guilty of sin yourself.
For the Christian, revenge is not an option. “Never take your own revenge. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone” (Rom. 12:9,17). “Do not say, ‘Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work'” (Prov. 24:29). The gratification of vengeance is short-lived. If you give your husband a taste of his own medicine, you will soon taste the bitterness of guilt. Spiteful words or behavior will not make your husband want to quit sinning. God says the way to overcome evil is with goodness (Rom. 12:21; 1 Thess. 5:15; 1 Pet. 3:9).
2. Don’t Give Ultimatums
In desperation, you may hope to threaten your husband into behaving. “If you don’t give up the sinful habit, I will never sleep with you again.” “Get your act together or I’m leaving you.” But what’s the saying about “two wrongs”? When you give ultimatums, you are promising punishment. That’s not your role. You are not your husband’s parent or savior. You are his helper and lover.
3. Don’t Air His Dirty Laundry
We all want sympathy when we’ve been hurt or mistreated. But if you desire your husband’s repentance, you will protect his reputation by keeping the matter private (Prov. 11:13; 17:9). No one deserves to have their private struggles made public. Instead, practice the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12). Do you want every sin struggle of yours shared with others? Do you want your weaknesses to be the topic of conversation when your husband gets together with his pals or his parents? Use wisdom in determining when/ if to disclose anything and with whom.
4. Pray for Him
It’s true that you can’t make anyone do the right thing. Praying fervently for someone doesn’t mean they will repent. However, it’s important to remember that God loves your husband even more than you do. You can pray for wisdom (James 1:2-4), patience (1 Cor. 13:4), compassion (Col. 3:12), and strength (Phil. 4:13). Prayer brings peace (Phil. 4:6,7).
5. Remember Your Own Shortcomings
Do you ever feel like your sin list is a lot shorter than your husband’s? The Bible says that anyone who transgresses in one area has become guilty of all the law (James 2:10). Make sure you’re not holding your husband up to a higher standard than you hold yourself. Grace and compassion go a long way toward reaching the heart of a struggling husband.
(Part Two will cover when to seek help, how to continue being a good wife, and how to maintain your convictions.)