Engaging your Spouse in Faith at Home
"How do I get my husband involved with faith at home?"
"How do I get my husband to pray more?"
"What if my husband isn't active in his faith?"
These are some of the questions that we are most frequently asked when we speak. We totally understand every family looks different. In some families, the husband is a really strong spiritual leader. In other families, the wife is the spiritual leader and is happy with that. While in other families, the wife is begrudgingly the spiritual leader and hungry for her husband to be more involved...this post is mostly for her, but we hope everyone can get something out of it.
Since these questions have been asked at literally every speaking engagement we have ever done, we figured it was time to write a blog post about it.
We are not trying to change husbands. We are not trying to shame husbands or wives that are feeling insufficient, confused, or frustrated. We believe that each spouse has a valuable role to play in the spiritual life of a family's home and that looks different for every person and family. We both have different family dynamics: Sarah's husband is a pastor and Steph's husband works in sales at a bank. But both of us are quite happy with the faith environment at home. So hear this: it's not supposed to look a certain way! Do what works for your family and brings you peace and joy. A really good follow up to this article is by Christie Thomas, called, Yes Mama, you CAN be a Spiritual Leader in your Home.
We can't nag our husbands into a more active faith life. We can't nag anyone into anything, as convenient as that would be. I wish that there was a magic formula you could follow that would make your spouse more involved in faith, but there just isn't. There are, however, a few things that you can do to help get your spouse (or even a stubborn child!) comfortable with the idea of faith formation and praying at home.
The first thing we need to be doing for our spouses (and kids and all family members), is to pray. We invite you to try this 5-Day Prayer Challenge written by our friend Christie Thomas. She provides a guide with five specific things to be praying over your husband using Scripture and stories. This is a great starting point.
Continue to pray once you finish the challenge, pray that God would open your spouse's heart and that they would have a desire to be in the Word and to have an active prayer life. If you're feeling the temptation to complain to him or her, talk to God instead. God cares about your spouse even more than you do and He knows their hearts so deeply. If anyone can understand, it's Him.
Sometimes it helps to give concrete, easy options of ways to pray. A lot of people, both men and women, don't pray because they don't know where to start. Prayer can be overwhelming and it can feel like a lot of pressure. It's can also feel very vulnerable and personal. We totally understand this, which is why we are a fan of introducing easy, approachable, and fun Prayer Activities into your family's routine. Ask your husband to lead these activities once they do it a couple of times. Some of the easiest ones are:
Grateful Game-Take turns yelling out things you are thankful for, saying, "Thank you God for...." We have found this to be one of the easiest ways to pray!
Lord's Prayer-This is easy because all you have to do is read or memorize. Print it out, put it in your child's room, and ask your husband to help them memorize it at bedtime.
Prayer of Examen-An easy dinner time discussion turned prayer.
Try a Book Together
There are a lot of devotional books for couples. They can serve as a great introduction to spiritual disciplines and they can help people feel more comfortable talking about God and praying. However, I list this idea last because I've found that sitting down and finding motivation to actually finish a book together can be hard. But hard work is always rewarding work, so give it a try! Here are a couple that we have used and like:
Wife after God and Husband after God
by Jennifer Smith and Aaron Smith
"These two complementary marriage devotionals walk through important biblical marriage principles, while also addressing different areas of life that a husband and wife might struggle with. We wrote these devotionals to help husbands and wives grow closer to God and closer to each other. We believe these devotionals will guide a husband and wife to understand the purpose of marriage and they will challenge a husband and wife to intentionally consider their marriage relationship. Each devotional includes 30 different topics, with prayers and challenges to go along with them. This bundle provides a great opportunity for a husband and wife to discuss important areas of their marriage in light of God's Word." Description from the website, www.marriageaftergod.com:
Thirty-One Prayers for My Husband and Thirty-One Prayers for My Wife
by Jennifer Smith and Aaron Smith
This is a companion book to the Husband After God and Wife After God books. The books walk each individual through a 31-Day Challenge to be praying for each other.
Night Light: A Devotional for Couples
by James C. Dobson and Shirley Dobson
"Whether you’re just married or are celebrating your golden anniversary, you need regular, quiet moments with your mate—times to renew love and intimacy with each other and with the Lord. Night Light, by Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley, will help you do just that. This daily devotional offers the personal, practical, and biblical insights that have sustained the Dobsons’ marriage for fifty years and encouraged couples and families around the world. Let Night Light enrich your marriage too—tonight and every night." Description from Amazon.com
Remember, friends, it's not our jobs to change our husband's hearts. It's not our jobs to save him. It's not our job to turn him into something that he is not. It's not our jobs to make him look a certain way. It's not our jobs to humble him. We can pray for Jesus to work in their hearts and we can work in our own. We hope that these tools and this ministry is a valuable resource for your family's journey. Let us know: what other resources are you looking for?