When I find myself thrown into a conversation with someone who is really struggling, my first goal is to say nothing that can harm them. The worst advice I could give them would be to encourage them to act in a way that will only make their situation worse. Oftentimes, though, this is the advice they expect to hear. It is the advice that our culture would naturally give. For instance, if your best friend is struggling in her marriage, she may expect you to “support” her by advising her to “put him in his place.” She may want you to validate the choices that she has been making because her husband deserves to be treated like a child. He is, after all, making her miserable and turning her into a sour person. When, really, the correct advice would be the opposite. Your best friend can’t expect to be able to change her husband. The only person she can change is herself. The more she tries to force her husband to change, the worse her situation will become.
God doesn’t put people into situations in which there are no right choices. There is always a right choice, even if that choice goes against our worldly reasoning. He doesn’t put wives into situations in which they cannot serve Him fully because their husbands won’t behave properly. Another person cannot come between her and God’s will for her life. Only she can do that. Instead of waiting for her husband to come ‘round, or instead of constantly nagging her husband and telling him what horrible decisions he makes or how badly he treats her, she should focus her energy on making each right choice in her life as she comes to it. What is the godly thing to do in this moment? She should do it. Five minutes later…what is the godly choice now? She should choose it. Advise her to treat her husband with the respect that his office demands, serving God and others in the meantime.
If she truly submits to the will of her husband, and can treat him respectfully in love and without sarcasm, he will probably come ‘round eventually. If not, well, people have suffered worse for the cause of Christ. This life is merely temporary anyway, and every situation will come to an end eventually. I heard a pastor quote yesterday, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s been tried, and it doesn’t work. Wives cannot force their husbands to change. They can merely do what is good and right on a consistent basis, and hope that their husbands “may without the word be won by the conversation [lifestyle] of the wives.” 1 Peter 3:1