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How a Wife Can Change Her Husband

March 17, 2011

Now there’s a book title that women would buy! And it’s actually a plan a lot of women try—without much success. Here’s the deal: Changed women help God change husbands. 1 Peter 3:1-6 includes four traits of a godly, changed woman and how they are powerful instruments for change in her husband’s life. The real adventure isn’t what God wants to do in your husband’s life; the jolts will come when you realize what He’s doing in your life!

The changed woman is submissive to her husband. “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husband.” 1 Peter 3:1 The Greek word for submissive, hupotassõ, means to be subject or subordinate, to literally place under.

The best illustration of submission comes from traffic. When you see the “merge” sign, you know that someone has to go first and someone has to go behind. Too often the I’m-going-to-go first battle causes frustration. Everyone knows that soon or later there is only going to be room for a single file of cars.

Submission has nothing to do with equality. The Son is not pouting around heaven going, “Why can’t I be the Father?” The Son is in submission to the Father and the Spirit to the Father and the Son. Yet Scripture teaches they are equal. Headship has nothing to do with equality. Men and women are equal under God in every way.

Submission also has nothing to do with worth. I love Proverbs 31:10, “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” It’s not about gifts. In certain areas, my wife has gifts that far exceed mine. It’s about God’s design for the order in the home. Changed women help God change husbands by being submissive to their own husband.

The changed woman is chaste in her conduct. Your husband is going to be “impacted when he observes your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” v. 2. This describes the effect of what you do in the kitchen, the car, the backyard, and in the bedroom—every activity in every place. Chaste means holy, righteous, or pure. Chaste means having godly responses to conflict, being pure in your dress, your language, your choices of entertainment and being righteous in decisions. Chaste does not mean self-righteous or judgmental; not uppity or prudish—just pure. A wife’s purity is a powerful tool God uses for change in the life of her husband.

The changed woman has a gentle and quiet spirit (see 1 Peter 3:4). Her attitude is gentle—that is, she’s considerate, unassuming, not pushy or demanding, not unnecessarily rigorous. The opposite of gentle spirit would be combative. She’s quiet—not loud-mouthed or known for speaking her mind. She’s not overpowering or blunt in her words or actions. She is soft-spoken and calm. She bears the disturbances created by others and does not cause or contribute to disturbances. She trusts God with her home and entrusts her husband to God. We all know from experience and from observation, that there is a woman who stirs the pot and there is a woman who stills the storm. A wife’s gentle and quiet spirit focuses God’s work on her husband.

A wife might insist, “Well, God didn’t make me like that.” Then like her husband, she needs to be changed. God is not trying to give her a different personality. He loves the one that He gave her, but He wants godliness to be expressed through it. As for her husband, no matter how clearly she sees how she can “fix” him, God has a better plan. A godly woman uses each impulse to “improve” her husband as a reminder to pray, “Lord, change me into the person You want me to be.” Next week, we’ll look at the other potential best-seller: How a Husband Can Change His Wife!

For a complete message on the role of the wife in marriage, follow this link.


Read comments:

  • AnonymousMar.17.2011

    How does one submit when her husband does not have Respect for his wife.

  • nicoleMar.17.2011

    How does one submit when her husband does not have Respect for his wife and his daily words are harsh.

  • KimberlyMar.17.2011

    This is powerful! Thanks Pastor James. Praise the LORD for such inside and a reminder to leave it to God.

  • CassandraMar.17.2011

    My husband has been extremely disrespectful and flat out cruel to me more so since I have began my path back to God, I have been trying so hard not to be evil right back, I succeed 6/10 times. I know that the devil is using my husband to get to me because I know that when we get back on the right path to God we have the power to bring others to him especially our husbands. I believe that the Lord will work through me to get to him, I constantly need to remind myself that only he can do this, as a good friend reminded me I am NOT the holy spirit, so I pray and I pray hard, I cry a lot, but I can’t give up because as a wife and mother I love my husband and need him, I just keep praying and praying. When his disrespect gets to be to much I walk away and get my bible, I know this to shall pass even when it seems impossible I know that I will get him to come with me, because God is on my side and I have full faith in him.

  • anonymousMar.17.2011

    How does one submit to a non believing husband who lies and manipulates to get his way?

  • DebbieMar.17.2011

    How does a Godly wife submit to her husband, if he decides to walk away from the faith and work out his own plans to leave the marriage? How does the church deal with men with psychological/mental illness’ that cause them to be verbally/emotionaly abusive to their wives? This is an epidemic!

    James MacDonald Reply:

    Debbie, please check out the link i just added to this blog post. It takes you to a message I just preached at Harvest on the role of the wife in marriage; it addresses your concerns. I trust it will be helpful to you.

  • LizMar.17.2011

    For a long time I was stubborn and did not take God at his word that he would take care of and deal with my husband. Instead, I did what we wives tend to do when we can’t “change” our husbands. I often asked the question why was he one way with me prior to marriage and now completely different. It took me years but finally I went to counseling. However, I learned to be accepting of who my husband is and while the counseling was not from a christian counselor the principles were christian. I learned to accept and forgive my husband and whenever I failed to be who God created me to be, I learned to forgive myself and start again. I wish I could say that this had a happy ending. It did not.I discovered my husband cheated on me…this as I had learned to be quiet, accepting, and trusting God. I know it sounds as if I disagree with Pastor MacDonald’s blog….but on the contrary I agree. It took me two years since discovering my husband’s infidelity to come to the point of forgiveness towards my husband AND God,and realize that what the enemy intended for evil God is using for HIS GLORY. My husband is still not saved however I am a changed woman because I am learning to first; see things through my God’s eyes, second; that my God has my husband in his hands just as he has me in his hands and third; God is more interested in MY character because I am HIS child and therefore responsible to God for my attitude(s). Will my husband ever get saved? I pray daily he does however the bottom line is that I am called to be who God wants me to be and not be consumed with who my husband is or what he does.

    Edited for length

  • SteveMar.17.2011

    Thank you Pastor James for delivering these exhortations to husbands and wives. The temptation for both is usually to try and “fix” their spouse. While there are times when we certainly are called to speak, I’ve tried to focus on myself first and simply move ahead in obedience to the Lord. When I’ve been wronged by whomever (either real or perceived), a verse that’s helped me talks about Jesus in 1 Peter 2:23: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to Him who judges justly.”

    Thank you again!

  • CarlyMar.17.2011

    It was only after finding my path to God that I realized what submissiveness meant to me. I always thought like most secular women, that this was a threat to my rights– like the bible endorsed women to be kept like chattel. My husband loves me for who I am, cheeky and fun loving. I can be stubborn and I’ll admit, obnoxious in my wants sometimes.

    When I began finding my way to God, I didn’t ask him to come with me. He didn’t want to have anything to do with it, for him religion left a sour taste in his mouth. He tried to pick fights with me about it and I didn’t rise to him by quoting bible verses or telling him to repent- which is what I so desperately wanted to do. I wanted to literally beat him over the head with a bible at times… my temper has always been feisty but I refused to give in to it. I prayed for him constantly. I merely let my light (a minute reflection of God’s grace and glory) shine and he began seeking answers to his own questions.

    I’m happy and grateful to God for answering my fervent prayers– both my husband and I will be baptized on April 17th. :)

  • DianeMar.17.2011

    1Pet 3:1 “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be WON OVER without words by the behavior of their wives.”

    1Pet 3:4 Our beauty, as wives, “…should be that of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is OF GREAT WORTH IN GOD’S SIGHT.”

    We wives need to die to pride (i.e. pray for God to kill the attitude of ‘I can’t submit until or unless my husband respects me.’). God’s word is clear ~ 1Pet 2:20 “…But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”

    Many came to Christ in the 1st century as they witnessed the LOVE in Christian marriages! Let’s love our husbands, bring glory to God and watch as the world stands in awe!!!

  • anonymousMar.17.2011

    What is wife’s role if husband has porn addiction he’s getting help with but chooses how much of the advice to use + apply + likes to be affirmed by going to lunch w/other women,emails + other secrets @ work. Also is out of house to show me how hard it is w/o him+ to not deal w/boundries crossed + work w/counselor .This has been over 2 yrs.

    James MacDonald Reply:

    I just added a link in this blog post to a message I just preached at Harvest on the role of the wife in marriage. It addresses some of your questions and concerns. May God protect your heart and marriage.

  • ErikaMar.17.2011

    We don’t submit to our husbands because they deserve it but for His sake, He is the one who will provide for it and who will honor our choice. If you do it for your husband’s sake, you will burn out.

  • KarenMar.18.2011

    How does one submit to her husband when he …
    The answer: I Pet 3:6–Without fear!!! In the same way that Sarah submitted to Abraham when he sold her out, saying she was his sister in order to save his own skin. She submitted, knowing that God (not Abraham) would take care of her. The key is to put your faith in God, not your husband, knowing that He is in control and is working out His will in both your life and your husband’s life. When a husband is disrespectful or lies or manipulates, trust God and submit anyway. You don’t need to protect yourself–God’s got your back! Instead, trust Him and watch what He will do in your husband’s life–and in your own.

  • AnonymousMar.18.2011

    While life is filled with various painful situations, it may be a difficult or even evil person in your life, God isn’t calling anyone to seek their own happiness but His holiness…read on in I Peter 3 to see that we as women are to put our trust in God (not husbands), as Sarah entrusted herself to God under her husband Abraham (who wasn’t always Mister Perfect! Remember how he put her purity into jeapordy to save his own skin and God protected her) I pray for that kind of trust in God for my own life in all situations. We (I) can and need to continue to truly submit to God and allow painful circumstance conform us to his likeness. That is where your Christian walk matures and no one said it was easy but the joy and peace and intimacy with God is so very precious! In our weakness, pray for God’s strength to do what is right in whatever difficult situation you are in – and remember, “Love is where I am involved for your betterment in light of eternity to my own expense!” Submission isn’t about personality either… remember a quiet person is thought wise if they keep their mouth shut – submission is so much more of laying down oneself in faith and in wisdom, choosing to speak truth and giving guidance with the goal that it is benfitial to all who hear…if we seek to be like Christ who laid down his life for us, then submission won’t be such a fearful and demanding word.

    Edited for length

  • KathleenMar.18.2011

    We submit because of who(Whose)we are, not because of who they are. Just as we love our brethren, neighbors, enemies because of who we are, just as we forgive because of who we are…not because of who they are or because of what they do.

  • MistyMar.18.2011

    Amen! God intends for the woman to submit to her husband and the man to love his wife like Christ loves the church. Ladies, this doesn’t mean you are less important in the relationship or don’t have any say..on the contrary. We are commanded to submit to our husbands, but our husbands are commanded to love us like Christ loves the church! What love that is! Imagine how easy it would be to submit to a man who has your best intentions at heart! The hard part is putting this into motion when times are hard,your husband is possibly cruel, and relationships are broken. I should know because I was on the verge of divorce when I read “the love dare” and decided I needed to allow God to change me if I ever wanted to save my marriage. Ladies, take that first step to change yourself, and God willing he will change your husband and heal your marriage. Change your perspective on marriage from what YOU think it should be to what the Lord wants it to be. It may be a long hard road, but the Lord will bless you. Again, I know because after 6 years of a bad, horribly failing marriage, my husband told me he wanted a divorce. I knew at that point the Lord was the only one who could heal us and he did… but he healed and changed me first. Today we are HAPPILY married, I understand my husband’s God given role and honor that, and my husband treats me like his queen. Not to say things are perfect all of the time, but we are committed 100% to the Lord and 100% to our marriage. Praise God.

  • SusanMar.19.2011

    I’ve had questions about being a submissive wife before….not that I’ve had problems in this area because my ex-husband wasn’t cruel or abusive, he was just a cheater. My soon-to-be husband, thankfully, is a Believer and he knows and understands the role of each spouse in a marriage. But I have always questioned this because I would say “what if?” What if I was put in a situation where the man I was going to marry wasn’t a believer and had no concept of the roles of marriage?

    I heard someone say once, the woman is to be obedient NO MATTER WHAT. If God commands us to be submissive to our husbands, then we obey God and be submissive. How can God work through us to change our husbands if we aren’t willing to obey Him? I know there will be times when our pride will get in the way and we don’t respond to our husbands as we should, but that’s when we swallow our pride and ask for forgiveness from our husbands and God. It may take awhile, but when they see how we live each day, the Holy Spirit will change them. Change doesn’t always come easy or as quickly as we like, but that’s where we say “Okay, God, you’re in control and I will continue to obey.” Remember, God works in HIS own timing, not ours. We just have to obey and let Him do the changing in our life and our husband’s.

  • AngieMar.20.2011

    Pastor James,
    Thank you for the excellent sermon at Harvest last week and this weekend on the roles of the Husband and Wife in a marriage. Many times we forget what roles God has created for us through marriage. These sermons were a helpful reminder.

  • JackieMar.22.2011

    I think what has helped me is realizing that I’m responsible for me. My life is not based on how respected I am by my husband or anyone else for that matter. I am strengthened by Christ in me, and there is freedom in that.

  • AnonymousMar.23.2011

    Excellent message! I have a better understanding of submission. I will yield.

    We have been married for over 25 years and most have been very painful. My husband is verbally abusive, scares me and never mind the rest.

    But I am God’s child, I fail, repent and begin again. After a year and a half of indepth counseling, I am no longer sucked in to his attitude or behavior. I am not co-dependent. When I fail, God shows me what I could have done differently. I purpose in my heart to honor God.

    I wondered about his salvation many times. While reading through the bible twice, he tells me that God has never spoke to him about his life. However he hears things for me and our sons.

    But while studying 1 John 4 for a bible study, I googled the passage and one pastor wrote that “not choosing to love is not a sign of an unbeliever but of a lack of maturity in his/her faith”. Hmm.

    I have decided that his salvation is only God’s concern.

    I want to stand firm in my faith and honor God more today than I did yesterday.

    Again, thank you for your message. I will yield.

  • anonymous husbandMar.23.2011

    A wife can submit to her husband who doesn’t deserve her respect in the same way that a husband can love his wife even when the wife is unlovable: only with the help of the Holy Spirit. As a general rule, “unconditional love” is preached in mass media (movies, tv, etc.), so many women simply assume it and take for granted that their husbands should give it — despite its impossibility. “Unconditional respect” (for any sort of authority, and certainly for husbands/fathers), on the other hand, is continually undermined in mass media, and many women (even Godly women) refuse to give respect until it is “earned” (which generally results in their husbands feeling less loving toward them, as a failure to give respect is disrespect). Precious few men truly “deserve” respect when lived with day-in and day-out, just as precious few women truly “deserve” love when lived with day-in and day-out. That’s a fact of the Fall. But, God’s not asking us to give what the other deserves — He’s commanding us to give what the other does NOT deserve in order to help that person become the sort of person who DOES deserve it. And, in the process, He’s refining the one giving the love/respect and making that person more worthy of being respected/loved. That’s the pastor’s point.

  • Much & Link Love April 4 « kd316Apr.04.2011

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  • pressin onApr.11.2011

    dear friends, I write this as a sister whose heart has been convicted by this topic. My eyes have been opened by the Lord to my lack of trust in His ways and the huge destruction my ways are bringing to my home. A few days ago as I was thinking about this deep struggle I have on submitting and that night I had a dream that I was singing Oh how I love Jesus..OH how I love Jesus..Oh how I love Jesus…but instead of it ending with because He first loved me, It ended with “when it’s convenient for me.” I looked up convenient and it said “suited to one’s comfort, purpose, or need”, it also said involving little trouble or effort.” Wow, talk about convicting. I’m not writing as someone who has arrived but someone who is pressing on to trust the Lord and His word. Praying this will be an encouragement.

  • AnonymousApr.15.2011

    What if your husband claims to be a good Christian but refuses to submit to God by not paying income taxes. He refuses to pay federal income taxes and says that the Bible backs him up. He states that people in the church run to the verse in Romans 13 and really don’t care to listen to what he has to say. He feels that we don’t ask enough questions of our government…we just act like lemmings in his opinion. He is a good father to our children but how can I be submissive to him when he has hardened his heart about this subject and it affects our whole family?

  • NicoleApr.18.2011

    You know,

    Starting my relationship with my Husband when we were starting to date, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. He acctually, was the one to bring me back to God. Now my relationship with God is more important than anything on this materialistic world. After i came back to the lord, there was alot of arguements. At times I would hold my Bible and say the Lords prayer over and over. The next day, I somewhat was surprised by some of the things i experienced. Now I learned that God has the power to change anyone! Prayer is the biggest thing i do because I have peace with my husband. During arguements, i pray and God honestly sends peace to both of us. I am more serious and would not make this up. Keep God in your relationship. He will fix everything. He created all of us and doesnt want to see his children upset. God bless you all and good luck

  • RhododendrinMay.22.2011

    Is there a clearer example of precisely what is meant in this article by a “submissive wife”? Can you devise a scenario where the idea behind a submissive wife can me more clearly defined?

    Proverbs 31:10, “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.”

    Is there a role for a woman with a good career in this definition of a virtuous wife? Or is the role of a virtuous wife merely that of caretaker? Is it unambiguously defined?

  • PollyJun.09.2011

    I was a very good wife to my husband, but nothing I did was good for my husband. He kept drinking alcohol and finally walked out on me 6 months ago. I continue to pray for his soul and hope that the Lord has mercy on him and opens his eyes to the family he walked out on. Ultimately our good LORD is in control of all of our lives.


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