How to Help Your Husband be a Godly Leader (without nagging)

I recently surveyed my readers to learn how I could better serve them. The idea for this post originated from their responses. To those who responded to the survey, thank you! If you would like to submit article ideas, see the information at the end of this post.

It’s an age-old question.

“How do I get my husband to be a more godly leader without nagging?”

When I read this, I immediately noticed three things I like about this question:

  1. The person asking appears to have a strong appreciation for the GOD-given role of male spiritual leadership within the family. This is often unpopular in today’s culture, so it reflects a certain amount of spiritual maturity.
  2. The inquirer wants their husband to be more like GOD, which should be each of our greatest desire.
  3. They are mindful of not being perceived by their husband as nagging.

I had a boss who used to (mostly) jokingly say:

“Management would be great if it weren’t for all the dang people.”

(I’m fairly confident he was not referring to me at the time. ? )

Well, marriage is kind of the same way.

The concept is nothing short of blissful.

It’s our imperfect execution that tends to get in the way and ruin the perfection.

You probably know this already, but you can’t actually get your husband to change. In fact, we can’t get anybody to change. The only person we can change is us.

But, what we can do is inspire people to want to change.

Motivation is internal. Inspiration is external.

People have to motivate themselves. The root word for motivation is motive. Motive means a reason for doing something.

A husband must find his own reason for being a godly leader.

In other words, he’s got to want to change in order to change.

The good news: his reason to want to change—or at least a reason—can be to please you, his lovely wife. You can inspire your husband to want to be a good leader. This reminds me of what Peter said:

1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own 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, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
(1 Pet. 3:1-6 NIV)

Someone says, “Great, Tim. Nice semantic difference between motivation and inspiration. But how does this actually help me?”

I’m glad you asked!

As a real living husband, for once I am actually qualified to answer such a question.

(For purposes of this article, I am going to assume that your husband is a Christian and recognizes his need to be a godly leader at home, but simply struggles with the execution. If the opposite is true, well, that’s for another day.)

I’m going to give you three of my best suggestions as to how you can inspire your husband to be a more effective godly leader in your home.

Tip #1: Serve your husband better.

Wait! Don’t stop reading yet. Stay with me.

Since you can only control you, let’s start there.

Because we’re all imperfect, I am quite confident that if you spend a little time—30 minutes or less—you can identify at least 3 changes you can make to be a better servant to your husband.

Successful, biblical marriage is about mutual servanthood.

You want him to be a better leader?

Then start by being an even more effective helper, companion, lover and friend.

Men want to feel respected, that their efforts are valued and appreciated. Perhaps you should start there.

Do you show sincere interest in his day, his work or his accomplishments and challenges?

Do you tell him how much you appreciate how hard he works for you and your family?

Be honest.

Don’t make stuff up, but find things that you can do to show interest and appreciation for your husband. That goes a long way, trust me.

Because here’s the deal: Humans naturally tend to respond to others as they themselves are treated.

It’s the opposite of how we should be, but it’s true.

That’s why Jesus’ oft-paraphrased “golden rule” of treating others as we want them to treat us is so powerful, because it is the opposite of human nature and it works.

When someone is kind to us, we tend to respond kindly to them. If they smile, we smile. If they wave, we wave back. If they raise their voice, we raise ours. Uh oh.

In marriage—and all relationships, for that matter—improving the relationship is so often about breaking negative / destructive cycles.

Someone has to step up and be the bigger person to stop the madness. And since we can only control ourselves, it makes perfect sense for that person to be us.

Our negative responses generate negative reactions in our spouse.

But if we’re mindful of it, we can positively influence (there’s our word again) our spouse’s reaction.

Positive responses (e.g., lowering our voice and speaking calmly in moments of inner frustration or anger) tend to incur positive reactions.

Have you ever had a boss or coach who was really tough and pushed you really hard to be the best you could be?

When they’re bearing down on you, it didn’t feel so good. Perhaps you even got angry. But I bet that, now, on the other side of that experience, at a minimum you respect and appreciate them and, I bet, you probably love them because they cared enough to help you grow.

We want to perform well and please those who treat us kindly.

The better a wife is at caring for and serving her husband’s needs and desires, the more likely he will be to reciprocate and be attentive to fulfilling his wife’s needs and desires.

One more suggestion in this regard: If you don’t know for certain what his specific needs and desires are in a particular aspect of life, find a way to ask him.

Here’s the real reason for this suggestion: Serving others communicates love and it opens the door wider for additional conversation and communication about other areas.

It makes deposits in the relationship’s bank account so that you can periodically make withdrawals (e.g., requests, or apologizing for mistakes) without overdrawing or bankrupting the relationship.

Tip #2: Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

Read this book privately and then do everything possible to convince your husband to read it together.

Offer to do the reading if he’ll just listen (since many dudes dislike reading, to our fault).

The premise of this book is that there are five ways people express and feel love and that we each tend to show love to others in the “language” whereby we feel most loved:

  1. Acts of service
  2. Gifts
  3. Physical touch
  4. Quality time
  5. Words of affirmation

The problem is that the loved one may have a different primary love language and, as a result, may not feel very loved, despite our best efforts to show love to them.

The reason this book is important is that it helps with serving your husband and in opening the lines of communication. By going through the book together, your husband will realize what your primary love language is and how he needs to change in order to love you.

I have seen how, time and time again—almost miraculously, this conversation opens the floodgates of positive conversation that’s been pent-up for whatever reasons.

Increased communication is the foundation upon which you can express your desire—your need—for your husband to step up and become a more active, assertive, godly leader within your home.

Tip #3: Privately pray aloud with your husband.

Your husband needs to hear you pray. He needs to hear you express your heart to GOD.

Be transparent and focus at least as much on yourself as you do your husband. Confess your need for growth in your role as a wife, serving your husband and fulfilling the mission GOD has given you at home.

In time, perhaps not right away, introduce in these prayers your desire for your husband to be a strong, effective spiritual leader. Thank GOD for any specific positive qualities that you appreciate and your husband’s desire to serve Him (if true). Ask GOD to draw your husband nearer and to light a strong fire within him to be the strong leader he can be.

For many wives, praying aloud with their husband is uncomfortable, especially at first. I get it. But it is extremely powerful.

Your husband wanted to marry you for a reason(s)—yes, a reason that goes beyond sex.

Something drew the two of you together initially. The challenge of life is that we get mired in the day-to-day struggle and stress of trying to make it that we lack the energy needed to keep that spark healthy. It takes a lot of effort and intentional living.

When you share your heart’s desires with GOD in front of your husband, he will be drawn to that. He may even love you more deeply because he can see more clearly into your heart.

When a wife is serving her husband effectively and there is healthy communication, it is a lot easier to share your desire for specific changes you would like to see that he would be more like Jesus.

Bonus Tips

Here are two additional tips that have worked well in my marriage.

Pray for wisdom

First, when you have something you need to say to your spouse, privately pray for wisdom in how to say it.

Tell GOD what you’re trying to accomplish and ask Him to work the situation out favorably. Ask Him to help you see the best opportunity to speak up and to give you the right words. Ask for a favorable response from your spouse.

Do not use this selfishly. Make sure your motives are pure.

Get Away with your husband

Second, get away with your spouse.

Long walks, drive time and especially vacations where you can suspend the stresses of “normal life” often provide excellent times to talk about these types of issues.

When stress can be suspended for a while, the heart opens to thinking beyond what must be done immediately. These are often the best times to share inner desires and plans.


Got a suggestion I didn’t mention or a topic you’d like discussed? Add it to the comments below.


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