faith, marriage

Loving an Imperfect Husband

I have talked quite a bit about our husbands in the past –from the myth that somewhere out there is a perfect husband to what to do if your husband is not walking with the Lord or is unsaved to why I stopped criticizing my husband.

Yesterday, a friend and I had a long talk about husbands and particularly about how our Christian husbands –like all believers– grow at a different rate than we do. For more about this, see my post about the growth of Christians.

Everyone’s journey is individual and unique.

She also made the point that God doesn’t convict us about all of our sins at once because He is a merciful and compassionate God and because we wouldn’t be able to handle that.

God addresses one issue in our lives at a time.

So the issue that you see in your husband’s life and that bothers you so very much might not be at the forefront of his mind because the Lord is working in a different area in his life at that moment.

That was actually really insightful for me.

It is really rare for a couple to be in the same place in their walk with Christ. I talk to a lot of women who think that their husbands are more spiritually immature than they are –and that may very well be true.

This discussion prompted me to look at scripture and to observe that those who are considered godly in the Bible were also not perfect.

David was a man after God’s own heart according to 1 Samuel 13:14, and yet he was far from perfect.

David was chosen of God to lead Israel, he wrote many psalms, he led the people to worship the one true God, and he left a legacy for many generations who came after him.

He was chosen to be the ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus is actually called the Son of David.

And yet, David struggled with depression (which isn’t necessarily a sin), he was a peeping tom, he was a murderer, he was an adulterer, and he was unrepentant for his sin of murder and adultery for over nine months.

He was arrogant, thinking that he would not be held accountable for his sins because of his position as king –I am reading into it a bit, but that is my opinion: a humble person wouldn’t have thought he could have sex with any woman in the kingdom, murder her husband, and get away with it. Am I right?

I mean, who is going to chastise the king? (The answer is a very brave prophet named Nathan.)

And, yet, God did not abandon David.

God did not say, “You are no longer my chosen king.”

God did not say, “You are no longer my child.”

God corrected him and restored him.

God corrected him with a story. See 2 Samuel 12.

This is probably a good time to mention that it was not the persistent nagging of a wife that changed David’s mind and heart.

But we will talk more about nagging in a moment.

The greatest men in the Bible have struggled with sin at some point in their lives.

Most notably the three greatest men in the Bible struggled with sexual sins:

The strongest man in the Bible was Samson who struggled with sexual sin in the form of Delilah, a temptress who pulled him away from God. She was his downfall and trusting her eventually brought about his death. You can read more about Samson in Judges 16.

The wisest man in the Bible was Solomon, and you would think that with all that wisdom that he would know how foolish it is to have many wives and how incredibly difficult –if not impossible– it would be to keep them all happy. Scripture says that he tried to keep them happy by building them temples to their false gods, and his wives led him away from God. You can read more about that in 1 Kings 11.

The godliest man in the Bible was David who we have discussed already. He saw a woman bathing, but he didn’t stop there and look away to avoid temptation as Joseph did. Read more about Joseph in Genesis 39:6-12. No, David called for her, committed adultery with her, impregnated her, and then had her husband killed. You can read more about that in 2 Samuel 11.

Suddenly, my husband isn’t looking so bad –you know what I mean?

These men weren’t just mediocre followers of God –although admittedly, we have the Holy Spirit continually living in us, and Old Testament believers did not.

They were considered the best of the best.

I once heard someone say. “No man who had ever viewed pornography is a Christian.”


That one single sin makes it impossible for you to be saved? I don’t find that anywhere in the Bible.

Now, I know that God does not want us to live in sin –it is never His desire that we sin.

But, even these godly men above struggled with sins –particularly sexual sins.

These men are still listed in the Bible as godly men, there for an example to us. Samson and David are even listed as heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.

We know that even Christians will not be completely sin-free, and while I am not defending sin –not at all– I think it is also necessary to have an honest, realistic view of life.

Your husband may very well struggle with sin at some point in his life just like David, Samson, and Solomon.

That does not mean that he is not saved.

It does not mean that he is not godly.

It means that he is human with a sin nature.

All men –and all women– sin.

It just is this way –and the way it will continue to be until we are given our new bodies when Jesus returns, bodies free from this sinful nature.

Hopefully, the longer we know Jesus the less we sin — that’s how it’s supposed to work.

You don’t know what God is doing in your husband’s life.

The reality is that He is working.

Even if you can’t see it.

If your husband is saved, God has promised to complete what He began –but it won’t happen in your timing or in your way because our preferred timeline rarely lines up with God’s timeline. See Philippians 1:6 and 2 Peter 3:8 for more about that.

So, about that nagging thing: we wives are tempted to nag, but we need to refrain from doing so.

The Bible has some harsh things to say about a nagging wife.

Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife. Proverbs 21:9

Better to live in a wilderness than with a nagging and hot-tempered wife. Proverbs 21:19

So, if not nagging, what recourse does a Christian wife have?

1. Prayer

Prayer is first and foremost your weapon and should be your weapon of choice. We do not battle against flesh and blood according to Ephesians 6:12. It is not a battle you fight against your husband. It is a spiritual battle for your husband’s heart, your marriage, and your family.

You are fighting for him with your prayers.

Unlike some people, I cannot in clear conscience recommend that you go around rebuking Satan for the spiritual battle that wages unseen around you. If Michael the Archangel wouldn’t even rebuke Satan (Jude 1:9), what business do we humans who are a lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:7) have in rebuking him? That’s treading on some pretty thin ice.

So, pray that God would soften your husband’s heart, give him the strength to do the right thing, give him the wisdom to lead, and give you the wisdom and grace to follow.

2. Biblical rebuke

Your second weapon is a Biblical rebuke from you, a trusted friend, or the church. According to scripture, if your brother is in sin –and it doesn’t say that your husband is excluded from this– you can address that sin with him in gentleness and love.

I would recommend reserving this for habitual sins that are significantly impacting your life.

You are not supposed to do the Holy Spirit’s job, convicting you husband of every little sin. Pray for wisdom about how you handle this so that you won’t overstep.

Make sure it is actually a sin and not just something you think is a sin. If you and he disagree about whether or not it is a sin then this method will not work. He will not listen to you because he doesn’t agree with you. See this post about Christian Stewardship.

If you both agree that it is a sin —and he is in this sin habitually and unrepentantly– then you can follow the pattern in Matthew 18:15-17.

I have given this advice about Biblical rebuke before, but I thought it was important to mention that you probably wouldn’t use this for a small issue. I recommend getting the church involved when the issue is big enough that it has the potential to break up your marriage –otherwise, discuss it with him yourself and learn to trust your husband to God’s timing.

Getting other people involved in your personal life –in the intimate parts of your marriage– is not something to take lightly. If you can resolve it without getting people involved, that is even better. For more information on this, see this chart I made.

But, it also is a step that most people don’t take. They just move straight to separation and divorce, whereas, I believe many marriages could be salvaged if we followed the Bible’s instructions about correction.

No marriage is perfect.

I am sure he looks at you sometimes and thinks you weren’t quite what he bargained for either. (I know my husband does –I can be a handful.)

Don’t look at the speck in your husband’s eye and ignore the plank in your own: you also have sin that you need to deal with. (Matthew 7:3-5)

You are not better than he is: you are both just sinners saved by grace. For verses that might help your marriage, see this post.

3. Love him anyway.

Bear with me: this isn’t the same as doing nothing.

Loving each other even when the other person isn’t loving makes us a reflection of God’s love to those around us.

Especially when we aren’t perfect.

Especially when it is hard.

God loved us when we were yet sinners, right? He doesn’t ask more of us than what He already did.

You would not have to love sacrificially like Christ if your spouse was always completely and 100% likable and loveable.

By loving your husband like Christ, you become more like Christ.

It is in those moments when our husbands are unlovable and imperfect that we have the option to show the love of Christ to them and to the world around us. See more about that idea about how marriage is supposed to work in this post.

It is not easy, but scripture says that a wife’s conduct has the ability to bring even an unsaved husband to the Lord. See 1 Corinthians 7:16 and 1 Peter 3:1.

Imagine how much Christ’s love through us can do for our saved husbands!

If you are married, you have an imperfect husband.

This is a reality.

If you are saved you have Christ living in you Who gives you the power to love him anyway.

These three things –prayer, rebuke, and love– are tools we can use to build better marriages.

At the end of the day, may the Lord be glorified by our lives and our marriages.


Sarah Forbes


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