As a husband, I want my wife to be happy. I tell her how beautiful she is inside and out, share scriptural thoughts with her, and treat her like my best friend. Recently, during my personal Bible study, I was focused on how a JW husband with a wife of a different faith should handle his responsibilities towards his family. The answer was what I expected, but the lesson I learned was not.
First, the basics. The Bible clearly shows that even if a person has an unbelieving mate, the marriage should stay together (1 Corinthians 7:12, 13, 16). It is also a good idea to share some of my scriptural thoughts with her (as she had requested), and to politely let it be when she askes me to (Galatians 6:9). I politely ask her if she would like to go to the Kingdom Hall with me, and do my best to let her know it is her decision (Ephesians 4:29). I also am not relieved of my responsibility to Conner (Ephesians 6:4) nor am I relieved of my responsibilities to my wife (1 Timothy 5:8 & 1 Corinthians 7:3).
Many people would stop there. However, I truly wanted to gain an understanding of my wife's point of view. I had tried many times to get her to express her feelings and fears, but I could not get an answer in a manner that I could understand. So, I prayed hard and asked for guidance and wisdom. After about 2 hours of research, I found this:
Watchtower, April 1, 1971: UnitingtheDividedHousehold***
15 Why, then, does a wife sometimes appear opposed to God’s truth? Although there are many reasons, there are three that the believer does well to consider:
16 (1) Is it possible that he seems to be forcing Bible truth on her? If so, remember that it is vital to present the truth tactfully at the right time to unbelieving loved ones. A fine thing along this line would be for mature Christian women to call upon the unbelieving wife to try to kindle her interest and endeavor to start a home Bible study with her.
17 (2) Is the believer insisting on his personal desires that are not related to God’s requirements and that seem to slight her interests? How good it would be for him to put aside a few desires to spend some time doing what she wants!
18 (3) It may be that the unbelieving wife is mainly opposed to her husband’s being away from home so much, rather than the Bible truth itself. So he must realize that she needs companionship and recreation provided by him. True, he cannot compromise Christian duties just to please her, but he may have to adjust his schedule to be with her more. His applying these principles may cause her to look into the faith that produced such loving consideration from him.
21 Taking the lead with the children also requires balance. It would not be wise for him and the children to leave his wife home alone all day, as she would quite naturally resent it. How fine it would be for him considerately to arrange his schedule perhaps to engage in the field ministry on Saturdays and attend the meetings on Sundays, thereby providing part of these days for the whole family to be together. This loving course will likely unite his children with him in the Bible’s truth and may bring the blessing of the wife’s accepting it.
It finally clicked. I had allowed my life to become so busy that, from her point of view, I was neglecting my family by depriving them of my time. She was trying everything she could to get my attention and nothing was working quite right. I realized that I had allowed my other responsibilities to crowd her out.
Of course, this also led me to consider other possible points of view:
Does she resent it when I act like an authority on the Bible, when for most of her adult life she has been such an authority? Perhaps she feels that I don't give her enough credit.
Is she resentful that my theocratic studies and meetings are taking time away from her? How can I offset this in other places?
Galatians 6:9-10 also tells us that time can undo many things. I am sure I had said things in the past due to my health condition that has caused her to have a negative attitude. Only time will undo this damage.
Ephesians 4:32 tells me to be tenderly compassionate. I need to consider that the anger and resentment is not an attack, but a frustration and expression of fear. I must respond accordingly; remembering that "an answer, when mild, turns away rage," (Proverbs 15:1).
Does she fear that I will end up in a fiery hell, taking her young son with me?
She may also have fears that another woman from the congregation will draw me away from her.
From her point of view, all of these are very legitimate fears. I haven't figured out how to offset these except by making a conscious effort to demonstrate my love for her and to take the time to tell her about my day, as well as listen to hers. In short, I must be her husband, not her roommate. It is hard work, but if it will make her happy, it is worth it.