When Your Husband Won’t Change

February 24, 2016

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In the middle of the night in a dead sleep, I woke up to the tight grip of my husband’s hand on my wrist. His grip was so tight I could hardly move. I forced myself free and pushed up on my side to look at what was wrong. He was blue, his heart betraying him, and I watched as he breathed his last breath. I woke up from the same nightmare that continuously crept into my subconscious in a cold sweat. 

Fear and desperation washed over me so heavily I felt like I was drowning. 

My husband had struggled with his weight since he was a kid. I had been asking him to get healthy because I was worried about him, and because I was angry. I was angry that he seemed so addicted to food that he didn’t love me enough to change his habits. I knew the facts about visceral fat – a lethal killer. I had shared them with him, cried to him, begged him, screamed at him, guilted him, and he never changed for more than a couple weeks. 

Bitterness started to build a wall in my heart and fear gripped me tight. I was constantly afraid of life without Brian by my side; raising our kids without him here. Why couldn’t he see that? Why couldn’t he just stop? I nagged, I yelled, I threw away everything remotely unhealthy in the house only to find fast food wrappers in his work truck.

More bitterness, more anger. 

Finally, one desperate morning, I fell on my face before God. I don’t think I even said anything. I just laid there on the rug with tears coming down my face. I had no idea what to do anymore, and I wasn’t okay with just sitting back and letting him kill himself when we needed him here. God showed up. 

“You forget the power you have. Pray over your husband.”

That day I repented for how I had acted, how I had been handling my fear and my emotions about this situation. I had forgotten who I was in Christ, and I had forgotten the power He gave me in prayer.

Prayer isn’t some desperate, empty plea that comes out of us when we are in our most desperate places. Prayer is a direct line to our Maker, infused with power and holy electricity. 

I started shutting up and started praying for Brian’s health and for my own heart toward him. Every day the wall of bitterness came down a little more. God showed me that Brian was being held in slavery by addiction. He helped me see the situation through His eyes, which gave me compassion for my husband; this compassion replaced my anger. It wasn’t about me anymore – it was about freeing my husband.

My heart had changed in a huge way. 

The words you speak come out of your heart. 

Matthew 15:18a 

The words that came out of my mouth were no longer condescending or coated in resentment, they became a sweet salve to Brian’s wounded spirit. I found myself speaking words of encouragement, praying for him every chance I got, and not saying a word about how much I wanted him to lose weight and get healthy.

The day after my 28th birthday, almost exactly one year since the day I spend praying on the floor, Brian made some sort of weird coffee drink for breakfast. When I asked him about it, I almost fell backward on the counter in shock. 

“Oh it’s something I read about the other day. It’s supposed to help you burn fat really fast and be a meal replacement.”

I think I shook my head like you see in cartoons. I could not believe my ears. 

Brian started riding his bike, drinking Bulletproof coffee every morning, eating Paleo the rest of the day, and cut off his eating window at 7PM every night.

He lost 42 pounds in one month.

And he went on to lose over 30 more that year. 

My heart soared those next few months. Every day I jumped out of bed excited to live; I couldn’t believe what God had done!

As soon as I shut my mouth and stepped out of the way, the Holy Spirit came in and moved in a big way. You see, God isn’t a rude guy. He doesn’t force Himself on us. He sits back and patiently awaits an invitation into our business. 

No matter what kind of man we find ourselves married to, no matter what personality type he has, no matter what we want to believe about ourselves, as wives we have a lot of power. What we say and how we act is the moon, and our households (especially our husbands) are the tides. How we choose to use our power determines everything. When we try to control, manipulate, or change our husbands, we are literally standing in the way of the Holy Spirit, blocking the way to the work He wants to do.

Marriage doesn’t mean you get to control your husband, it doesn’t even mean you have a say! Sure, you’re married and you’re entitled to an opinion about things, but is that what this is really about? Or is it about the deep-seeded issues he has that you wish he didn’t? The issues that you want obliterated from the face of the earth because you just can’t take it anymore. The issues that are hurting you, cutting you so deep you don’t think you can even stay in the relationship because he will not change.

Marriage is about real, raw oneness. Oneness is an intimacy so deep it can’t be mimicked by any other earthly relationship.  It’s about demonstrating to the world the awesome, shaking love of Christ for His people.

It’s about seeing one another as a whole – issues and all – and choosing to say, “yes. I promised you and here I am. Every day. I’m all in. I love you.”

If what we desire is to be godly wives, we need to take on the character of God. Patiently wait, be prayerful, love no matter what his issues are, use the power you have for good and not for evil. We can use the advantage of seeing our husbands for all they are – flawed human beings – to encourage them in those places while praying over them and over our own hearts. That’s where the sweet spot is. That’s where we discover our purpose and our power. 

Let’s choose to set our husbands free from our nagging, our anger, our bitterness, and our resentment. Let’s say yes to commitment and living it out. Let’s shut our mouths and open our hearts. Let’s pray instead of talk. Let’s choose holiness over making them pay. Let’s take what makes us afraid and bring it to God. He can do much more about it than our husbands can, and besides, He wants it. 

Cast all your cares upon Him. He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

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