Audio: Chapter 8 "Won Without a Word"
Chapter 8 “Won Without a Word”
In the same way [as Jesus], you wives,
be submissive to your own husbands,
so that if any of them are disobedient to the word,
they may be won without a word . . .
—1 Peter 3:1
In this chapter, we will learn from God’s Word that since our husbands are over us, our words are not only useless, but may be dangerous. Many of us are now reaping “bad fruits” of unknowingly trying to persuade or warn our husbands instead of taking our concerns to God. We will learn that everything you’d like to say to your husband, you must first talk to God about.
When our husbands are doing something against God’s Word, we are told in Scripture to win our husbands “without a word,” with a respectful attitude toward them and their God-given authority over us.
Won Without a Word
When I am concerned about something, should I discuss it with my husband? No.
Ask God to speak to your husband. We must not discuss our fears, concerns, or even our desires with our husbands. Instead, we must first go to the top; we must go to our Heavenly Father and appeal to Him. Ask God to have the Lord speak to your husband (since the Lord is directly over all men) about what is on your heart.
This is the proper order of authority: “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3). Instead of seeking your husband’s help or guidance, you must seek the face of God. Then search the Scriptures for one of God’s principles concerning the dilemma you face. This will confirm what the Lord has spoken to you in your heart. Mark that verse and then hold onto it, knowing that the Lord is in control.
Get Out of His Way!
Get out of his way. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners . . . But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1 NIV). Get out of your husband’s way; you are not his authority! The second line tells us what we are to do: meditate on His Word and leave your husband to God. God must be the One to change your husband; your husband can’t even change himself.
Stand in the way. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (Ps. 1:1). When dealing with a husband who is “disobedient to the Word,” there must be stages of “letting go” without a word. A woman whose husband is in the home but is not coming home on time or at all must “let go” of trying to police him through curfews, “20 questions,” or the “silent treatment.”
If a wife finds out that her husband is involved with another woman, she must “let go” by not following him or confronting him and use this time as a “wake-up call” or she will push him into leaving or divorcing her. If at this stage he leaves, and she continues to stand in his way rather than “letting go,” he will most likely push the divorce through, hoping that this will stop his wife’s pursuits. However, if she still pursues, you will see the man marry the other woman.
If she still holds on, rather than “letting go,” you will most likely see her former husband in a very strong second marriage. I have personally known women whose husbands had remarried, yet who were still signing their husband’s name to Christmas cards and thank you notes! In addition, with this distorted view of their situation, they have no qualms about continuing to be sexually intimate. Rarely do you see a divorce occur when a husband is convinced that he can basically have two wives.
Very often a wife who won’t let go will see her former husband and his new wife resort to having a child of their own, hoping this will discourage the ex-wife and make her let go. Some women write to me in a rage and anger against God because He did not close the OW’s womb. Yet they neglect to acknowledge that they failed to follow the biblical principles of letting go and obtaining a gentle and quiet spirit. Occasionally, when a husband does divorce the OW or second wife, he doesn’t go back to his first wife, but instead searches for someone new to make him happy! (For encouragement, please read the testimony at the end of chapter 12, “Seeking God,” about a woman who humbly let her husband go, did not get angry at God, and found herself with a restored marriage after her husband remarried!)
Get off his back and pray! You can help to heal your home by your prayers. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). If you do speak, it is very important that you choose your words carefully!
Turn, through prayer alone, your husband’s direction to God. You must understand also that you are not responsible for what your husband does; he is accountable to God for his actions. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (James 1:14). Close your mouth; then get out of your husband’s way.
Wives love to treat their husbands as if they were one of their children. This type of mothering attitude will drive off any man and drain the manliness out of him. Then, when a woman comes along who looks to him as the man, he leaves his wife for the other woman.
Have the proper attitude. “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” (Rom. 13:1).
Your husband is your God-ordained authority. Your rebellion to his authority has allowed your present situation. Obey and submit now and watch God turn your husband’s heart back home as you honor God’s Word.
Overcome all evil with good. Your reaction to the evil when it occurs tells God, others who are watching, and your husband what is really in your heart. “Do not be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). It will occur, but you can be prepared “. . . knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:3).
Take this opportunity to speak a blessing of kindness to your husband: “. . . not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9). If you agree with the insult or hurtful statement and return a kind statement or blessing, this will turn your situation around in an instant!
However, most women spend their energy defending themselves or discussing the issue. As they attempt to get their spouse to take his responsibility for what happened, they fail to see their situation improve. “He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he does not open his mouth” (Acts 8:32).
These are the women who email me wanting to know what is stopping their restoration. When I hear their derogatory and condescending attitude, I know why! Can you humbly accept what I am saying? If you can’t, do you wonder why your husband has chosen to leave you? “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands” (Prov. 14:1).
(For encouragement, please read the testimony at the end of chapter 12, “Seeking God,” about a woman who humbly let her husband go, did not get angry at God, and found herself with a restored marriage after her husband remarried!)
Concentrate on loving the unlovable! When you love and respect your husband, even when he is unlovable, unkind, and in sin, you are showing him unconditional love. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?” (Matt. 5:46). Give God your hurts. He will help you love your husband if you just ask Him.
The ministry of reconciliation. As children of God we are to be ambassadors of God’s love, and that will draw others to the Lord. “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ . . . (Christ) gave us the ministry of reconciliation . . . not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18–20).
Have you been counting? Do you rehearse your husband’s sins and shortcomings in your mind as you reveal his trespasses to others? Remember, God’s mercies are new every morning—are yours?
Our first mission field. Your attitude may be, “Why should I minister to my husband the sinner?” Because the Lord gives us our husbands and our children as our first “mission field” before we can truly be effective with others.
We, of course, want to rush ahead of God before we are really ready and minister to those in the church, in the neighborhood, and at work—while we neglect our ministry at home! If you haven’t won your husband or children to the Lord, how can you win the lost?
So many women act like victims having to live with an unbeliever. Yet, they are the very ones keeping their husbands or children from the Lord. A Pharisee who attends services and then acts arrogant and spiritual keeps the lost from wanting a relationship with the Lord! Is this you?
God wants us to learn contentment before He’ll change our husbands. If you are still whining and bemoaning your situation, be prepared to stay in it! We can see in Paul’s life: “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Phil. 4:11–12).
Paul goes on to say (the verse you hear so often), “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). You will stay in difficulty until you have learned contentment in it—period!
When women come to us, they want to know: “How can I deal with and overcome the destruction that has plagued our lives for years? How can I possibly make it through this pain and this mess?” The answer is by seeking wisdom and truth. Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.” My heart’s desire is to share the truth with you in order to set you free: “. . . and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Let me assure you that all the principles in this book will help to restore your marriage whether your husband is abusive or has a drinking, drug, or pornography problem. Most of the women who come to our ministry are dealing with adultery and one or more of the sins of drinking, drugs, pornography, and/or abuse. Even though most of the testimonies do not reflect these sins because these women do not want to shame their husbands (even my own testimony), these other situations did exist, but they were overcome by following the principles in this book and especially those in A Wise Woman. A woman who is respectful in her attitude and in her words to her husband, along with a spirit of submission, will turn any abusive situation—God guarantees it!
Dealing with Your Husband’s Sins
If your husband is in any sin, how should you, as his wife, deal with it? Not as the world does!! The world’s ways will bring about destruction, but God’s principles will bring victory. Here is God’s prescription, straight from His Word:
Without a Word. As we learned earlier, the Bible is clear that we are to reverently keep quiet and not try to talk to our husbands when they are disobedient to God’s Word. (See 1 Pet. 3:1–2). Do not make the mistake of talking to your husband about his sin; talk to God only. Also, I would urge you not to talk to others about it either. Two things happen when you do. First, it puts us at odds with the Lord. “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I [God] will destroy . . .” (Ps. 101:5).
Secondly, when you uncover your husband’s sins and weaknesses to others, it makes it almost impossible for him to come back and repent. When everyone in the church, and all of your family and friends know that he has been living in adultery (or some other sin), you have made it almost impossible for him to come back. We are not to confess someone else’s sins. Confessing your own sins is very different from revealing someone else’s. It also brings about its own curse. “. . . Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside . . . So he said, Cursed be Canaan” (Gen. 9:22–25).
This verse confirms the principle that we read earlier in Psalm 101:5. We are told not to slander anyone! Nevertheless, I am keenly aware that it is very difficult to keep all that you are going through a secret. That is why we are told in Matthew 6:6 to “. . . go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” When you have no one to talk to, you have to pour your heart out to God! He is the only One who can really change your husband and your situation anyway! When we tell everyone who asks or will listen, when we talk on the phone for hours about it, or even pour it all out to our pastor or counselor, we will fail to use that urgency in our prayer closet! I encourage women to do what works. I know personally that this works, and any other solution does not.
Fast. The greatest way to free a husband who is in bondage to sin is to fast and pray for him. “Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke?” (Isa. 58:6). There is more on fasting in chapter 16, “Keys of Heaven,” that you need to read.
Overcome evil with good! The other way is to overcome the evil by doing good! “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). The Bible does not lie. Though the “experts” of today tell you that you “enable” the person who drinks, takes drugs, etc. by being kind and loving, Scripture tells us the opposite. Which will you choose to believe and obey? Love is one of the most powerful weapons we have, and it is guaranteed to work. The Lord tells us that it is how we are to deal with our enemies or those who hurt us. Loving your husband right now, right in the midst of his sin, is truly overcoming evil with good!
Proverbs 10:12 promises that “love covers all transgressions.”
First Peter 4:8 confirms this principle when it tells us, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
First Corinthians 13:8 gives us a bold promise: “Love never fails.”
First Thessalonians 5:15 admonishes us saying, “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.”
Romans 12:14 expounds upon this principle when it teaches that we are to “bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.”
Jesus said these words in Matthew 5:44–46: “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you . . . For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers [or sinners] do the same?”
Testimony: She Told Her Husband to Get Out!
A woman came to Restore Ministries who was angry, resentful, and bitter! She had searched everywhere for help—support groups, counselors, and many books—in order to solve the problems she was having with her husband, who she said was an “alcoholic” and drug “addict.”
She had had enough! She had thrown her husband out of the house—as she had done a couple of times before. She had been following everyone’s advice; unfortunately, nothing seemed to change her situation, and inevitably things got much worse. What she learned from our ministry was different from anything else she had read or heard before. Finally, she said, she heard the truth.
She said she finally learned that the reasons for her problems were altogether different than what she had been told repeatedly. She told us that she had been so totally indoctrinated in psychology and unbiblical ideas that she could no longer discern the truth. When she read the principles, the Word of God became a sword, cutting through to her very marrow!
She learned about the danger of ruling over her husband, as when she had told him to leave the house. She learned the right way to win a disobedient husband: without a word. She learned how to deal with a man who was bound to the sin of alcohol by fasting and praying for him. She learned that a forced separation encourages adultery and would always exaggerate her trials.
Within one week, she looked up every Bible verse listed in this book and marked them in her Bible. To her astonishment, she could find no scriptural basis for the actions she had taken with her husband.
She even called her church and begged them to show her that what she had been doing was really correct. She said she needed to discredit those Scriptures she had read in this book. They could give her no scriptural support. They just encouraged her to keep her husband out of the home and not allow him to return.
In all her confusion, pain, and anger, this woman really was searching for the truth. She finally asked her husband to return home. She then gave him respect as the head of the household and spiritual leader for the first time in their marriage. The rebuilding of their home was neither easy nor quick, yet it was always stable. Her husband later confessed that he had been planning to commit adultery after she had forced him to leave. Her husband has been home for over nine years, drug and alcohol free! He is even a deacon at a large church.
Testimony: Husband Delivered from Alcohol
A woman contacted our ministry. She had hit the bottom with her husband’s drinking. She had tried applying every method that she read for wives of alcoholics. Yet, she found that every recovery was only temporary. Their marriage was falling apart.
They had become estranged. She felt that if he really loved her he would stop drinking. However, her husband was convinced that she no longer loved him because of the way she was treating him. He said her ill-treatment only made him drink more because he felt things were hopeless. She told us that she did love her husband, but all the books said to withdraw from him because they were co-dependent and she had become his “enabler.” She told us that she had “tried everything” and was ready to give up. We encouraged her to “seek God.” She said that she had tried that. She said that she had gone to her pastor who confronted her husband, but that only made things worse—he left the church.
When she finally reached the end of herself, she cried out to the Lord. The next morning she met a woman who had a restored marriage and who agreed to pray for her. Just two weeks later, when she thought her husband was at work, she got a phone call from him. He was at Teen Challenge seeking help. This woman’s husband came out, three months later, a totally new man on fire for the Lord. He became the spiritual leader of their family and active in their new church. You can try everything, but when you do, I promise, you only make matters worse. Try God alone!! Go after God; trust Him and He will change your situation in an instant.
Do Not Provoke Them
Scripture warns us, “. . . do not harass them nor provoke them” (Deut. 2:19). When you provoke someone who is under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or the seductions of an adulterous woman, you put yourself in grave danger. Proverbs 18:6 tells us, “A fool’s lips bring strife, and his mouth calls for blows.”
If physical violence has become a part of your marriage, you need to heed this Bible verse and make sure that it is not occurring because of your disrespectful attitude and words toward your husband along with your spirit of rebellion. God warns women not to even speak to a husband who is being disobedient to the Word and to make sure we are silent with a respectful attitude (see 1 Pet. 3:1–2). God also tells us in Ephesians 5:33 that “the wife should see to it that she respect her husband.”
So often, after you verbally attack your husband’s character, one of you takes a swing. Often it is the woman who hits first because she is so hurt by something her husband has said in response. Unfortunately, after the first punch, physical violence becomes the norm. Once violence is brought into a home or a marriage, it becomes a major part of the destruction.
Those in our ministry who have overcome violence in their marriage are convinced that if it is destroyed at the root of the problem, which they all agree begins with a disrespectful attitude, cutting and demeaning words, along with rebellion (refusing to submit as the Bible commands that women are to do), that it is wiped out for good. This testimony confirms this truth.
Testimony: In Her Own Words
I read this testimony in Crowned with Silver magazine. I am reprinting it for you, with permission from CWS and the writer of the article.
The following story is, I hope, an encouragement to others who may be in the situation in which I found myself. God has many ways of reaching people and my story is one, which may cause the hardened of heart to call me “Raca,” or “fool,” but the Lord reached my husband through some very difficult circumstances. I ask, dear sisters, that you don’t place my name at the end of the article, for I am concerned that my husband would not receive the honor that is due him in the eyes of my children if they read this.
My husband and I grew up in a community church and married as high school sweethearts. I was always a stay-at-home mother, and my husband was an automobile mechanic. We were from very different types of families. He grew up with four brothers and two sisters; I came from a family with just two girls. His family members were always loudly arguing, debating, and throwing a punch here and there when they were making a point. My family was very quiet. When my sister and I argued, we did it silently and maliciously. We wouldn’t use words to get back at one another; we would do something to get even.
At the beginning of our marriage we were baby Christians, but I had a thirsting for more of God. My husband was content right where he had been for 23 years. He had made a confession of faith, and knew he was heaven bound. That was good enough for him. I, on the other hand, knew there had to be more. I knew that God was enough to sustain me throughout the rest of my life and I wanted to live a life different from the world around me.
We struggled financially. With the birth of our first daughter we were barely making it in our one-room apartment. My husband was like a tightrope. I’d try to keep the baby quiet in order to make life more peaceful and less irritating to him. Our relationship was better during the weekdays because he wasn’t home that much. But we fought on the weekends. And then I would start my old tactics that I’d used growing up on my sister.
I wouldn’t fight back, or yell, or scream. I would simply . . . get even. When we were arguing, I wouldn’t make dinner, or I wouldn’t do the laundry for a week and he would have to wear dirty clothing. I’d do something that I knew would get under his skin. But it wouldn’t be something that he could actually point his finger at me for. I could get away with it because it wasn’t blatant. Life went on like this for some years. We had the two girls back then, and then that tightrope that my husband and I were walking on snapped.
One Saturday, we were arguing about how we should spend the extra $20 out of the paycheck. My husband wanted to go to the ball game; I wanted him to take us out to dinner. He yelled that he worked for the money and he deserved a little time out for fun, and he turned to leave. So I gave him a little . . . shove with my elbow. (I think all the built-up pressures from all the arguing and strife that was constant in our life somehow brought back his interaction with his brothers.) He immediately lifted his arm and socked me back in my arm as hard as he could. Never had I seen so much fury directed at someone—me!
The pain of it. I think that it wasn’t the physical pain so much as the emotional and spiritual pain. See, I had been trying to grow in the Lord in all areas but my marriage. It was a torture to read the Scriptures that talk about how the Lord is the bridegroom and we are the bride, and somehow our marriage was supposed to be an example of our relationship with Christ. That was horrifying!
If my marriage and the relationship I had with my husband was in any way related to my relationship with Christ I was in big trouble! I think that once the restraint was gone, the taboo of hitting your spouse having been broken, my husband felt hopeless. More and more fighting would break out like this. I would try to hide it from the children, but sometimes there was no way to do this. I think this hurt me more than anything else.
Proverbs tells us that children’s fathers are their glory. If fathers were supposed to be their glory, then my children must have felt betrayed and distrustful of all things, even God. As they were being taught the Scriptures, they were going to come to distrust even them if something didn’t happen to heal this broken marriage.
And yes, even though my husband and I were married and not divorced, we had a broken marriage. I never told any of my friends at church what I was going through. I did tell one of my closest friends that my “cousin” had been going through certain things in order to get some advice, or to talk through the issues. But all the advice this friend gave me was that I should leave the monster. She said that there were names for this type of treatment and that only a fool would stay with such a man.
But there was one problem. It was a vow I had made to God a few years back that I would stay with this man through sickness and in health, through the good and the bad, until death do us part. . . . And even though I felt that there was absolutely no love left in my being for the man I was married to, I still loved God. I loved God with every fiber of my being. I loved Him so much that I would not break my marriage vows, which I had said before Him those seven years ago.
Staying with my husband was a commitment I had made to the Lord the day that we were married before Him. I turned to our heavenly Father. So many times in the past I had turned to secular advice in reading materials. I’d listen to my friends bad-mouth their husbands, and so on. I knew that the only way I was going to get any help at all was by seeking the Lord and finding Him and His help.
The Lord revealed Truth to me in some very simple ways. I needed to stop blaming my husband as the world tells us to do, and look at the things I was doing wrong in my marriage. Putting aside the hatred, anger, and resentment I felt for my spouse, I decided to replace those emotions with forgiveness, understanding, and love. I repented of getting even in so many ways in order to make my husband miserable. And the Lord started changing me!
There is so much more to tell, but let me only say that God is in the changing business. If we yield our whole lives to Him, He is there to guide us through our darkest hours! I’ve now been married for 21 years to the same man. Well, he isn’t the same man, as he gave his whole life to God as I did about 11 years ago. Just as he had felt the resentment and hate oozing from every pore of my being, so did he start feeling love and forgiveness flowing toward him.
Now we don’t argue as we used to do, for both of us love each other so much that we want what the other person wants. We no longer put ourselves before the other’s needs! God is wonderful! See, the Lord changed me first, and then He changed my husband! But it was the Lord who did the changing!
Testimony: Hide Me Under the Shadow of Your Wings
Elaine* had suffered so much abuse. From the time she was pregnant with her first child, her husband had repeatedly, in a rage, abused her. She had tried everything: shelters, friends’ homes, going back home to her parents, even law enforcement officers, but nothing was permanent.
After her husband’s violent explosions, he would become repentant, remorseful, and even kind to her. He would seek to try and “make it up to her.” He would plead with her to “please forgive” him. Being a Christian, she would. All too soon, he would again become violent.
After three children and no hope in sight, she thought of taking her own life. How could she leave her children with this violent man? She couldn’t. She would have to take their little lives as well. But murder! She had thought several times about killing her husband, especially in the midst of his attacks. How could she, a Christian, think like this?
One night she went to a prayer meeting at her church. There was no altar call, but Elaine walked slowly to the front of the church during the last song and left her burdens there. For the first time that she could remember, she gave the entire situation to the Lord.
She heaved tears of pain at the foot of the cross. She gave it all to Him. She surrendered, “Lord if you want me to stay with this man, I will. I will never try to run away again or to seek help. I accept this life you have given me. My children are yours. Do whatever you will with all of us.”
Elaine went home relieved that things were finally settled in her heart. The next day, while her children were at school and she and the baby were grocery shopping, God moved in her life. Her husband left his job, came home, and packed his things. Elaine’s husband disappeared that day. That was 21 years ago.
Elaine is still legally married to a man she has not seen or heard from in over two decades. Her children are all grown and her youngest daughter has just married. She and all her children have a close relationship with the Lord. Elaine still lives hidden under the shadow of His wings (Ps. 17:8).
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death” (Rev. 12:11).
*Not her real name.
For many more powerful testimonies, visit our website at RMIEW.com or get a copy of the book By the Word of Their Testimony.
Personal commitment: to pray to our Father rather than to quickly speak to our husbands. “Based on what I have learned from God’s Word, I commit to allowing God to move my husband through His Holy Spirit. I will instead ‘bathe all my desires and concerns in prayer’ by seeking His face. I acknowledge that the only way to win my husband to righteousness, especially in my present circumstances, is ‘without a word,’ and with my respectful and humble spirit. I will bless and pray for those who persecute me and overcome evil with good. I will trust the Lord and His protection rather than the arm of the flesh.”
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