Mailbag, Marriage

The Mailbag: I “feel led” in a different direction from my husband.


My husband and I recently moved to a new state. After living here a few months, I ‘m not sure this is where God wants us. At the time of our move, my husband had another opportunity for us to go to a different state than the one we just moved to. In prayer and reading God’s word I think we should’ve gone to that state instead. That opportunity is still open, and I feel led to go. I’ve prayed and asked God and still feel led. I’m so confused. I am starting to feel like my husband is a hindrance in my following God’s will. He is supposed to be the leader of the family but he’s not a godly leader. I am a Christian woman who is trying to follow what I think God is leading me to do.  My problem is I have a husband who isn’t in God’s word, nor trying to be, and he says no. 

One of the most stressful situations in a marriage is when your spouse is an unbeliever, one spouse is much more spiritually mature than the other, or there are major differences on theological issues between spouses. I know this is difficult, but I hope I’ll be able to point you in a helpful direction.

It’s good that you’re reading your Bible and praying as you seek God’s direction. I’m not sure (but am very curious) as to which Bible passage you might have read that leads you to believe you moved to the wrong state. I can’t think of one that addresses that issue because the Bible is not personally specific in that way. It gives us wisdom and godly instruction and principles which God wants us to use to make wise choices, but there aren’t any verses that say things like, “You should have moved to the other state,” “Marry Bob, not Fred,” or “Buy the minivan instead of the convertible.”

You say, “I am a Christian woman who is trying to follow what I think God is leading me to do.” That’s great! That’s always the attitude of heart we should have. And the first thing we need to understand is that God leads us through His sufficient and authoritative Word. That means, when we have a decision to make, we don’t go by subjective feelings and impressions, we go to God’s written word and make sure we’re obeying everything it says about our situation.

The good news about your situation is that God spells out His will for you very clearly in Scripture. If you really mean what you say about wanting to do God’s will and follow what He’s leading you to do rather than doing what you want to do and calling that God’s will, here it is:

God is leading you to submit to your husband:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24 (emphasis mine)

Unless your husband is abusing¹ you or encouraging you to do something sinful, God’s will is for you to graciously submit to his decisions. Denying your request to move to another state may not make you happy, but it does not qualify as abuse or sin. Notice, this passage says wives are to submit “in everything,” not just the decisions we agree with. The remainder of this passage goes on to instruct men about how they’re to treat their wives in a godly way, but it does not say that wives only have to submit to their husbands if their husbands are godly or “in the Word.”

God is leading you to conduct yourself respectfully:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 1 Peter 3:1-5 (emphasis mine)

Sometimes when we ladies want something from our husbands, we can be like a dog with a bone, talking them to death about it (Dare I say, nagging?). While husbands and wives should talk through major issues and decisions together, if you’ve calmly, lovingly, and respectfully offered your husband your input and he has made his decision, you need to stop trying to convince him to do it your way. Let it go, Elsa. Behave and speak with love, grace, and kindness toward your husband as you move on with life in your marriage. You may not win him over to your opinion, but that’s not your ultimate goal. Your goal – as you mentioned in your e-mail – is for him to be godly and in the Word. Your behavior and demeanor can help win him to godliness.

God is leading you to be content:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11b-13

If anyone knew what it was like to bear up under unpleasant circumstances and find his contentment in Christ rather than in temporal happiness, it was Paul. Paul had learned the secret to maintaining his contentment no matter what: the strength only Christ can provide. Christ can enable you to be content in this circumstance of your life, too. Just keep your focus on Him and ask Him to strengthen you.

God is leading you to pray for His will to be done and to trust Him for the outcome.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 (emphasis mine)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (emphasis mine)

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done.” At Gethsemane, He demonstrated it for us. God did not change Jesus’ circumstances, because it was His will for Jesus to be crucified. But Jesus trusted God to do what was right and best, and He obeyed and glorified His Father to His last breath.

Are you praying for God’s will to be done in your situation, or your will? Keep in mind that God is sovereign. If it were His will for you to be in another state right now, that’s where you would be. Nobody can thwart God’s will. Have you ever considered the possibility that it’s not that your husband is a “hindrance in following God’s will” but that it was God’s will for you to be living in this state and that He caused or allowed your husband to move you there because that’s what He wants? Ask God to do His will in your situation, obey Him no matter the cost, and trust Him for the outcome.

Finally, I’d like to address something you mentioned in your e-mail that you didn’t seem to think was connected to your main question. Actually, it is. You said that you found my blog while searching for one of the false teachers I warn against. If you’ve been sitting under the teaching of the woman you mentioned, or these teachers, or any other teachers who don’t properly handle and teach God’s word, that is a large part of your confusion about your situation. These teachers do not correctly teach people how to study, understand, and apply God’s word to their lives.

You’ve been taught to “feel led” to do things that are in conflict with God’s word. God leads us and speaks to us through Scripture, and it is Scripture alone that we are to go to and depend on to live a godly life and make wise decisions, not our feelings, opinions, and experiences. Unfortunately, teachers like the one you mentioned often lead their hearers to attempt to interpret subjective feelings, ideas, impressions, and circumstances as “God’s will” rather than seeking what God has already revealed to be His will in His written Word. I would encourage you to put away the pre-packaged “Bible” studies, simply pick up your Bible, study it, and obey it.

¹Physical abuse. A husband’s decision not to bow to his wife’s wishes in a situation like this does not constitute abuse. Any wife who is being physically abused should get to safety and get help.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

19 thoughts on “The Mailbag: I “feel led” in a different direction from my husband.”

  1. Thank you for writing one of the best articles on submitting to your husband as God has commanded us to do.
    After many years of trying to share my wisdom and what the Bible says on different issues, I have come to realize that my “actions” and “gentle spirit” gets his attention more than quoting the Bible. I still do comment an appropriate passage of Scripture here and there., but he has heard the Gospel many times and I sound like a broken record. By showing actions and gentle spirit, it gets his attention daily.
    I love your posts and this one is a favorite.
    God bless you!


  2. I am so thankful to have found your blog. I appreciate that no matter what the issue, you bring your readers back to truths from Scripture. The Bible is for here and now, it is for me and you. Regardless of the situation, the Bible applies. So many are floundering in their daily lives because they have lost sight of the One True God. When I read this post I thought, “How would I answer this?” Your answer was completely in line with my understanding of Scripture. Thank you for taking the time to help others clearly see Scripture as real guidance in every situation.


  3. Great article Michelle and sound advice, thank you. Submission has gotten a bad rap in our society. It is not being a doormat or being mentally or a physically abused submission. It is submitting as if to Christ. My husband was not a believer and now he is. It was hard for me not to nag him about things, I had to trust God and put my husband in God’s hands and his will. Sure I made some mistakes along the way but eventually in God’s timing not mine, he called my husband to the faith.


  4. Ladies- thank you so much for your kind words. Just wanted to throw out there that I certainly have not “arrived” when it comes to submission in my own marriage. I’m pretty headstrong as you might have guessed :0) God still has a lot of work to do on me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great advice. I concur with the other ladies’ appreciation of your ministry through the blog. It would be interesting to know why the writer of the question feels led to move to the other state, i.e. is it a financial advantage, etc. However, as you said, unless there is an issue with abuse, the wisest thing to do is submit and respect his decision. I haven’t “arrived” either, after 35 years, and am thankful for God’s grace when I make my plenty of mistakes!


  5. Excellent answer to the Mailbag Michelle and love the way you used His Word to answer it. When I was first married, I was the unsaved and my dearest husband was the Believer. You have no idea what that man of mine had to put up with in the first 2 years of our marriage before the Lord got a hold of my heart and I was made to look at my own depravity, sinful desires, and all-around foolishness. I am a fortunate woman that my husband stuck around for that conversion, and I know that too was part of a Sovereign Lord’s plan and one that I cannot thank Him enough for. After 32 years of marriage, I (like you Michelle), have not “arrived”. I look back on those first couple years and I’m humbled by what the study of God’s Word and the sanctification that the Spirit works in a person’s life has done to change me so completely.
    I appreciate your blog here and will continue to check in on it and pass it along to others. Your sister in Christ!


      1. You are welcome to use it Michele and thankful that it will be an encouragement. Praise the Lord for His mercies everyday!


  6. Her attitude does not surprise me. False teachers like Beth Moore encourage this kind of thing. In fact, much of the Church does by subtly poking fun of men. I’ve watched this phenomenon grow over the past 30 years. Even in Church men are portrayed as being incompetent. Watch for this the next time there is a womens retreat and how men are mocked from the pulpit.


    1. John, I agree wholeheartedly and wrote an article on this a while back: There are many ways Christian women and the false teachers they flock to are at fault (and there are many of us out here trying to disciple our erring sisters in the right direction) but because God has given men the authoritative role in the home and the church, the responsibility for allowing, and correcting, these errors lies at the feet of godly men. We need godly, discerning men to step up and lead their homes and their churches. To put their foot down in a Christlike way and refuse to be run over by women who are usurping proper biblical authority, introducing false doctrine, or wearing the pants in the family. The main reason for the attitudes you cite is the failure of godly men to step up and lead properly and biblically. (Not necessarily you, personally. Just a general statement :0)


      1. Yes, agreed with everything you wrote. However, what if there are not enough godly men in churches? Then what? I think this is a scenario that is going on in churches more and more. The extreme reaction to this is controlling patriarchy types.


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