My Husband is not the Spiritual Leader of Our Home

When I’m speaking or being interviewed for radio the spiritual leadership of our home often comes up as a topic for conversation. It’s really interesting to me that this question comes to me from other believing men (radio interviews) as well as women who are living unequally yoked.

My friends, we the spiritually mismatched, certainly live in the “in-between.” And spiritual leadership/direction is of monumental importance to us as we wrestle with how to do this well.

I struggled for years in this area of my marriage. Thoughts crossed my mind such as:

  • Do I wait for my husband to become a believer to set the tone in our home for prayer and Bible reading?
  • If I take any initiative to teach my kids about faith, will my actions be perceived as disrespecting my husband?
  • Can I be the Spiritual leader of our home and yet respect and follow my husband’s lead in all other areas?
  • Will my kids listen to me because I’m not the head of the household?
  • Does leading spiritually, make me the head of the household?
  • Am I up to the task all on my own?


Tell me I’m not alone in this. If you are in the midst of this confusing mess, today I want to set your feet on a path to freedom. I’ll share with you what I share on the radio.

First, hear this and let this truth resonate within you:

If your husband is unwilling or has abdicated his position as the spiritual leader of your home, then God expects you, the believing wife, to step into this role.

Repeat that sentence out loud.

I heard these words a long time ago. I’m not certain exactly where or when but what I recall precisely is this, that was the moment when the cloud of confusion lifted and freedom flooded my heart. I needed permission to take leadership and to teach my kids and it came in those words. So, if you need permission to step up and begin to model, teach, and love like Christ, my sisters, then you have it. Clearly God’s desire is for men to lead but when they won’t, God is delighted that His daughter’s will help the next generation.

How do you do it?

Motive, motive, motive. I think the success of our marriage greatly increases when we consistently check our motives. Does my desire for my husband to lead our home come from a place that is “me” centered or “Christ” centered. Let me be specific. Here are some of my own thoughts from years past.

  • If only he would believe, he would help me get the kids ready for church.
  • My life would be so much easier if only he would believe.
  • I wouldn’t have to sit with each of the children tonight and pray with them. I wish he’d help.
  • Going to church alone is so embarrassing.

Okay, these are tough but sometimes we need to move past our “self” and truly focus on what Jesus wants. When you have the right motivation, which is born out of love and humility, you’ll be motivated to get the kids up on your own and get them to church. Out of a loving heart you can say to your husband, “Sweetie, watch the television without me, I’m going to go tuck the kids into bed and say bedtime prayers.”

There are many ways to build respect for your man and still quietly lead your family closer to Christ. More than anything, I’ll always go back to the truth of 1 Peter 3, Win them over without words. Win your kids, your husband, your friends, the neighbor, a world that is lost and broken….

Win them over with your boundless, crazy, passionate, fervent, zealous and adoring love for Jesus. When you love Jesus with all of you, heart, mind, soul, strength, it’s irresistible over time. And that’s a promise.

Jesus modeled humble leadership. That is the key to spiritual leadership, even in the midst of a spiritually mismatched marriage.

A happy marriage (believing and unbelieving) begins with love and respect. With Jesus as our center, add to that large doses of laughter and a sense of humor, it’s a winning combination.

Be blessed, Lynn



Lynn Donovan

Lynn Donovan would likely hug your neck the first time you meet and skip the small talk to ask, “How are you today, down in your heart?” As a writer and speaker, she shares from her heart the myths women believe about love and marriage and then points them to the freedom that is theirs through living in the truth and relationship with Christ. It is her passion to encourage women to thrive in their marriage and discover their purpose. Married to her husband, Mike, for more than 18 years, they love, live and now thrive in a spiritually mismatched home. They reside in Temecula, California with their teen daughter, and neurotic but comical dog, Peanut. Lynn loves to laugh, enjoys a strong cup of coffee and Fantasy Football and not necessarily in that order. You can join her daily at her blog where she shares the zany yet meaningful stories of marriage challenges, truths, and triumphs in her life. She invites you to share her view from her front row seat to an amazing journey; life lived for Christ. To learn more about Lynn visit her blog at or follow her on Twitter @LynnDonovan.

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  1. Wow! Thank you for sharing honestly! So refreshing to hear someone be real about marital relationships and spirituality. Bless you for taking on your children’s spiritual guidance and I pray your husband will someday come to know the Lord as Savior. Prayed for you today and for him!



    • Jo,

      You soooo touched my heart with your prayers for me and my husband. Thank you my friend. Have a fantastic week. Hugs, Lynn

  2. “Win them over with your boundless, crazy, passionate, fervent, zealous and adoring love for Jesus. When you love Jesus with all of you, heart, mind, soul, strength, it’s irresistible over time. And that’s a promise.”

    LOVE this!!! I always tell people you win others to Jesus by loving them to pieces so as they love their husbands, their husbands will probably love them back. After all, we reap what we sow!

    • Lori,

      Amen…. Love and mercy triumphs…. Hugging you tight today. Lynn

  3. Love this post! I think it’s great how God works because I just recently realized that I am the spiritual leader in my home until my husband chooses to take that role. Such great wisdom and I pray that I will remember this when I have children and things get tough. I am learning that it is still so important to respect your husband and his authority as the head of home. Thanks Lynn! 🙂

    • Heather,

      You are on the right path and will be such a great mother. I see Jesus in you my friend. Love you much. Lynn

  4. Wonderfully said my friend, love you.

    • Love you much sweet Denise. Hope your week is healthy, filled with love. Hugs,

  5. I sometime tease my husband that he can make BIG decisions like wheather or not the U.S. should continue the space program; I will handle SMALL decisions like where we live and what we eat. Ha.

    Seriously, I encourage him to lead in every way that he will accept… This means that my dearly desired kitchen re-model has waited 13 years. That is part of submitting and a challenge since I am independent and self-sufficient by nature.

    Your post reminds me to applaud him when he shows leadership – and to be happy that he has always accepted that I live a life of faith that he does not share. It hurts that he uses the time I am at church to indulge in some sinful activity. But I cannot control him and have to trust the Lord to watch over him.

    Your post also reminds me to prepare my heart to let go of spiritual leadership when he is ready to take over.

    • Teresa,

      You are delightful and you are soooo on the right path. I see Jesus in you and I know your husband does as well. Love you girl. Lynn

  6. Hi ya ladies! I could go on and on about how your ministry has blessed my little life! Thank you and thank God for you!! Your book, Winning Him Without Words, has helped me realize that Jesus is who is my true husband!! Awesome!!

    There’s one thing I have wanted to point out for quite a while now. I’m sure you’re well aware if this, but I don’t know how it will come across. It is this: there are multitudes of seemingly “equal” marriages where the man is far from being the spiritual leader. He is saved, goes to church, may even teach Sunday School or sit on the church board, be an elder even, and still choose to be spiritually impotent in his home!! Growing up in a Christian home and church, I have seen this over and over. It’s heartbreaking and confusing!

    Anyway, like I said, I don’t know how this ties into your direction in this ministry, but I find it interesting how so much if what you have described in your book, blog and cafe describes how many women with saved husbands often feel, too!!
    much love and prayers to you,

    • Sophie,

      Thank you for sharing this point about people who seemingly look like they are matched spiritually but in reality they are far apart. This is actually more common than you know. I receive many emails from women who are walking this very road. It’s very lonely as well.

      Great points. Thank you for sharing and for your contribution to our community. Love you girl. Lynn

    • Amen! “Choose to be spiritually impotent in there home” says it all. It is a choice our “saved” husbands make and unfortunate for us because we can miss out on everything God has because our husbands are too carnal to “submit” to what God has called THEM to be in their homes. It is sad. “Saved” husbands sometimes suffer from worse attitudes than non-saved husbands. There is legalism, unforgiveness, arrogance, carnality, depression, laziness, selfishness, and on and on the list goes from what I have seen, heard from other wives, and experienced myself. This is not uncommon in “equally” yoked marriages. I have spent 22 years watching my “christian” husband behave in an ungodly manner and making ungodly choices time after time under the authority of being the head of the house. Abraham made his wife lie about being his sister….twice. We are responsible for our own walk ladies and can’t put any of it on our husbands. Whether they are saved or not they are still human and at the reach of the enemies claws. If we live our lives waiting for something to happen with our husbands we’ll miss God. Turn to God and let Him deal with your husband. I pray that in whatever type of marriage you are in you will experience the victory that was won at the cross. The cross and all the blessings that come with what Jesus accomplished there are a choice that we all have to make daily. You can’t force it down anyone’s throat or assume they are living it out because they call themselves christians. All we can do is walk out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12

  7. Thank you for this great post. What is your recommendation if the kids in your home are your step-children and one biological parent is hostile to God and the other is indifferent? As the spiritual leader step-parent, what is my responsibility?

    • Hi Anonymous,

      This is actually more common than you think as well. And even more challenging because you get so little support to share your faith with the kids. More than anything those kids need to see that there is something different about you. About how you process life and handle challenges, stress. They need to see Jesus.

      One day those kid’s lives will face difficulty, fall apart. They will know that you have some answers. They will need to know that you are a safe place to share their struggles and that you can help them get their life turned around.

      Love Jedsus out loud in front of them every day. Not in a pushy way but in authentic, forgiving, joyful way. It’s irresistable. Hang in there. We serve God Almighty and He’s got your back. Every effort you pour into those kids on His behalf, God will honor. Hugs, Lynn

  8. I just read the last comment and response and WOW. That is great advice for all of us!

    This is a great post. I too have faced some of these questions, but since your broadcast I’ve been clear that it is my God-given duty! Which is good, because I was already doing it anyway 😛

    • Gillian,

      You are on the right path. It’s like God has you on the fast track. He is teaching you so much so fast and you are an amazing student. So neat to see all the Lord is workin out in your life. Love you girl. Lynn

  9. You are definitely right on this. Women you have to step up and be the spiritual leader when your husband does not. There is too much at stake to wait and hope that your husband will get it and step up as the spiritual leader. Satan is trying to kill, steal, and destroy. We have to lay the spiritual foundation early in our children’s lives. Satan would love to take our children and run rampant. Don’t let him get a foothold in you child(ren). It’s hard enough with God and without Him it’s a disaster.

    • Melanie,

      SO TRUE… Much at stake and the enemy works overtime to get to our kids. BUT, when mom prays, heaven moves… How amazing is that. Thanks for joinin the discussion. Great stuff. Hugs, Lynn

  10. I agree with Sophie. Sometimes there’s a gap at home that isn’t evident to those outside the home. I’d love to see some Christian thought on this. Prayers to all going through this!

    Thanks for these posts and comments. It’s a great place to share!

    • Hi Laura,

      Thanks for your thoughts and yes, let me pray about this because you are so right that often what goes on behind closed doors in a marriage is not evident to others. Let me ponder and pray over this. Sending you a warm hug today. Lynn

      • Thanks, Lynn. I desperately need that hug today, even more so than yesterday. I’m so glad I found this blog and your website. A lot of the issues that go on between unequally yoked partners cannot be easily discussed with others who know you both. It’s nice to hear from others who are experiencing similar things.

  11. I love reading these post. question? what do i do when i have been head of the house for 20 years and have not allowed my husband to be leader at all. He is an alcoholic and i always feared his dicision making so i just did it. I know thats not right and i really don’t respect him at all for various reasons. I have enabled him to think his lifestyle was ok by not pushing the issue but God is really speaking to me to push and it scares me. I love Jesus with ALL my heart and He is the only reason im still hear. I’m trying to let go and let God. this sight is so encouraging. you would never hear this stuff out in the world. they think we are crazy, I AM CRAZY, CRAZY FOR JESUS.

    • Ronda,

      This is a tricky area, especially in light of your husband addiction and that this has been your life for 20 years. To begin to undo this and elevate your husband to leader, starts with you. I would suggest start at Alonon. Also, sounds like some changes in boundaries would be helpful. Can you see a Christian counselor to help you navigate this new terrain? Mostly, girl, pray. Pray with fervor and passion, fasting and the Word. It can and will move heaven and earth.

      Hope in the Lord… He will not disappoint. I promise. Love you. Praying as well. O Lord, this very hour move in this home. Free the captive from alcohol. Restore to them a marriage of truth, love and honor. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

  12. Definitely need a miracle here. I appreciate your blogs. It seems, that even though you may not be on the same exact page together, that at least your husband is not evil. I am born again for the past 27 yrs and have had to take the spiritual lead. I married my husband because I believed what he told me, that it was his goal to be working in ministry, which was a lie. I have to correct false theology and words from my husband that are used for manipulative purposes.

    I’m not certain but I am beginning to think there are some of us whose relationships are even more unequal, like satan vs a child of God unequal, Esau who is hated vs. Jacob. What if the husband is without a conscience, intent on devaluing and using others, keeping the wife powerless and in poverty, a person who says “we don’t celebrate” and does nothing for his 4 children or me for birthdays, mothers day, even my 3 graduates! but then expects fathers day and his birthday to be about giving to him? Devaluing is a stage of psychopathic abuse.
    Any suggestions, besides “get counseling” because he’s refused that for the past 21 years. When I talk with church leaders all I hear is that I need to submit. The kids and I have been treating him as the head of the house, I help them with honoring him for Father’s day, etc. and still there is no return, and never ever sincere apologies or remorse on his side for anything. He has forged my name on documents, cheated on taxes, took my daughter to a tennis “date” with another woman thinking that would negate any ‘sin’, tells the kids if we go visit someone he’ll move my stuff out, all in a joking manner as if that won’t have any effect on anyone’s brain. I can’t be in agreement with sin. Did Sapphira submit to her husband?
    As a believer, I need the truth- am I hurting or helping my kids by staying or will my daughter end up with an abuser, and my sons like their father because I didn’t get them out of the house? Scripture says God hates divorce and the one who is violent. But because he hasn’t been unfaithful in that one way out (adultery), most likely on purpose, I am basically a slave.

    • Deonna,

      As I read through your comment, I was crushed in my heart for all you have had to endure. And I want to be very clear, if there is abuse going on in your marriage, God does NOT want you to be there in harms way. If he is seeing other women, that is absolutely wrong even in a secular marriage.

      There seems to be so much going on here it’s difficult for me to give specific advice. What I would want for you is for you to seek counseling from a Christian counselor. I get it that your husband doesn’t want to go. He doesn’t want anyone to point out his failings. But, you need real help to discern his behavior and a support system to help you set proper boundaries. From what you have written boundaries are out of whack.

      It’s easy for me to write what you should do and enormously hard to even make a phone call for help. But my sweet sister, you need Godly counsel and people to come around you. I’m praying you find courage to talk to someone to discover how to set healthy boundaries. I also want you to buy the book, Love Must Be Tough by Dr. Dobson. This will be an enormous help to you.

      I’m praying for you. God sees your tears and is begging you to take that one step of courage to find healing and peace in your life. Love you much. Lynn

  13. For almost 33 years I have waited for my husband to lead spiritually. He hates church and we don’t go. Our children are grown up and had awful experiences in church when they were teenagers. They followed their dad’s lead asnd stopped going. I eventually did too. Now, he is chronically ill and I am his only caregiver. I listen to sermons everyday and work diligently to be the kind of wife I should be. I am sad,though. He has so few friends. We rarely go out because of his physical problems. He is sour and beligerent. I have suggested counseling and he rejects it and me. My chances of having a social life are limited because of his needs. I want to be the vessel of love and truth in this situation; it is indeed hard. I have a full time job that I love. It gets me out of the house enough to remind me that I can have a separate life, which I usually have to keep to myself. Believe me, I am not perfect; I know that. I feel that I was too immature when I married him so long ago. I can’t change the past; I can only learn from it. Your prayers are welcome. Thanks for reading. 🙂

    • Oh Bonnie,

      33 years… Oh my friend, I just can feel your hopelessness through your words. Bonnie, our hope in this life is only Jesus. Press into Him. Bonnie, I just feel impressed to ask you to do whatever it takes so you can get out of the house and get to a church. I just feel like you need to meet people who are like minded and will walk this path with you. You need help and refreshment. God’s people are both. You need to stand in God’s presence and worship. It will change everything for you. If you are breathing God can bring change and definitely hope. Hope, wild crazy, life-changing hope.

      I love you and just prayed for you Bonnie. Hugging you tight, Lynn

  14. I am so glad I found this article. Oh, how very thankful I am that the Lord led me here!

    A little background…my husband and I divorced three years ago. He was an alcholic and we had tried over and over to make our marriage work. We were divorced for a year before the Lord touched his life and he became a changed man. We remarried – much to the delight of our daughter! – and have been together for the past two years now. 

    But he has changed again. That man who devoured the Bible, never cussed, and had let go of all the anger inside of him has returned. His cussing is atrocious (he is going to autobody school and is surrounded by guys all day long – I know it's a hard environment to be the light of Christ). He has stopped reading his Bible. We haven't gone to church in some time. 

    When I told him the other day that the husband is supposed to be the spiritual head of the household according to the Bible, we got into a huge argument. He said I was more well versed in spiritual matters and that I should be the head of the household. I said that he could become well versed in spiritual matters by reading the Bible and growing closer to God.

    Tonight, he told me he is under a great deal of stress because he does not WANT to be the spiritual head of the household, that he doesn't have time to read the Bible and learn more about Christ. In short, it's not a priority.

    Not only do a I feel deceived as I remarried him thinking that we were going to be equally yoked, but it is growing increasingly hard to live with a man who cusses like this, makes morally questionable decisions, and is nothing like the man I remarried.

    He trusts our pastor a great deal and promised me two weeks ago that he would go talk to him about all of this. Yet he hasn't even contacted him. But today, he took off class early so he could work on auto body stuff that most certainly did not need to be done today. 

    One of my mother's friends once said that my husband had a fierce spiritual battle going on inside of him, that Satan wasn't going to let him go very easily. I keep praying that something will change. 

    I am the spiritual head of the household at this point, and I accept the responsibility. But to have him say he doesn't WANT it just breaks my heart.

    I would love to hear your thoughts.


  15. Hi Melissa, Girl, as I read your comments above, I also felt in my spirit that there is a GIANT battle for this man and that the enemy doesn't want your husband to find freedom. Melissa, it is critical at this time that you be patient with your husband. Girl, be in powerful prayer with the Holy Spirit and start taking authority over the realms around your man. Do not let satan have an inch. Please pray for him and don't put pressure on him to lead or read the Bible. You must not be the Holy spirit but must be the partner with God to bring protection around him and to love himout of the clutches of evil.  

    Can you get a copy of our book, Winning Him Without Words because there are so many principals inthere that will helpyou walk this out while you wait for your husband to turn back to God. Please know that God hears you and is asking YOU to step up into this battle without judgement but with unconditional love. Because it's love that tramples fear and the devil. Your man will rise up and have the Lord again. Right now though he is in the battlefield, bloodied and confused. Surround him with your prayers and ask others to just hold him up.

    God LOVES to honor those kind of prayers. And Melissa, while you are walking this with your man, watch and see what God is trying to do in you. I bet it's some pretty BIG stuff. Love you my friend. Hugs, Lynn

  16. Thank you so much for your response! I will try and get a copy of your book. And one of my New Year's goals is to PRAY MORE. 🙂 Thank you for your wisdom.

  17. Long story short, the man listed on my marriage license allegedly, presumed to be my husband is actually a sloth disguised as a man. Me, I was a scary non trusting new Christian woman who put her faith and trust in man and was duped by my enemy who knew I would go for the aforementioned being described as my husband. The plant, as I refer to him as, cannot handle absolutely anything and this is not a joke. It is only God himself that is keeping us in our home, clothed, and fed…if my daughters and I had to depend on the tare, we’d be homeless. I pray, read, cry, now I trust God more so than I ever had before. I prefer to divorce. I don’t want to stay.


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