Encouraging wife to explore deeper spirituality

Hi, I haven’t posted in a while but need some advice. I am happily married and both of us are faithful practicing Catholics. This Lent God has really been working on my prayer life to go deeper with Him. I am somewhat more expressive of my faith than she. I lead most family prayer which is fine, but sometimes I would like her to lead. I have asked her too before and she does when I ask, but she seems uncomfortable with prayer. I try to engage and inquire as to her relationship with God, but it’s usually vague answers and then she gets distracted like she isn’t listening. I have to ask her several times to put down the phone, or to stop watching tv when I’m trying to have a serious faith conversation. I will ask her opinion about something but I usually get “well I agree with you” “why?” I just do. I know she loves God but I’m frustrated and have said so. It’s important for us to pray together, no doubt but it’s important for both of us to cultivate our own individual walk with Christ. She gave up Facebook for lent, but what good is external practices without finding one thirsts for God? It’s like you could go to Mass everyday and never have a conversion of heart. Granted, I don know what’s in her heart, but how do I gently encourage my wife to develop a robust pray and interior life apart from me? I just want to encourage her in a way that she will listen, my main goal in this marriage is to get her to Heaven and her’s is the same for me! All I can do that I know is pray and try to let go of my need for control and insistence that she experience God on the same way I do. Any advice or encouragement would help. God bless.

How about giving up browbeating your wife for Lent?

It’s your job to lead… asking her to lead is probably making her uncomfortable and could cause her to question you as a husband.

Why are you concerned so much with her internal thoughts? It is her space and not yours. Sounds like you have a nice life and you are both on the same page.

Concentrate on yourself, leading the family and let her follow in her own way.

gee, how charming you are

Please excuse me if I come across as blunt–I’m writing this in sisterly love----and you asked. :wink:

Are you praying spontaneous prayers together as a couple? If so, she may not be comfortable inventing her own prayers–especially in front of you when she knows you are gauging her words for their “spirituality.” Don’t put her on the spot like that. Prayer should be communication with God and worship, not an exam or a way to please another person. If you aren’t doing this, that’s fine, but from what you wrote–and that’s all we have to go on, it sounds like you are doing this. Don’t.

When you pray as a couple pray the Divine Office or the rosary or some other prayer that doesn’t require the other person to divulge his/her spirituality. Frankly, it’s none of the other person’s business. You certainly are to help her get to heaven, but you aren’t supposed to drive her like a cowboy driving a herd, but like a sheperd leading his flock. Do you see what I mean? :slight_smile:

My dh is like your wife. He is a very private person when it comes to his spirituality. I could see that he struggled with this area of his life and wanted to help him, too. I tried prodding and saying things, but he only got more quiet and less happy. Then I realized I was pushing him, not helping him. I prayed for him and after a while introduced doing a very short version of the Divine Office. At first we only prayed one Psalm and the rest of the office. In time he initiated praying the whole office. I didn’t have to say anything or remind him.

Be patient and let your wife have her own relationship with God. It’s not yours and it won’t look like yours. You can’t make her into your image–and you shouldn’t try. She and God have their own thing going. He will mold her into the image of Christ, not you, as he sees fit not as you want. So let go of that idea and let God be God and your wife be herself. That’s my advice as an older woman who as seen my dh grow because I didn’t keep pressuring him to be me.


That’s the nicer version of what I meant.

Wordy than yours, certainly. :smiley: But it’s true. No one can make another person be what s/he thinks the other should be. To try to do that ends in frustration and misery for both spouses.

This thread sounds familiar to one I remember recently where a husband was upset that his wife wasn’t living up to his spiritual standards. She went to Mass, volunteered at church, prayed with him, and so forth, and he still wasn’t happy.

In case you’re a different poster, OP…not everyone is expressive about their faith. There is nothing wrong with being quietly spiritual. If she doesn’t want to lead prayer, she doesn’t have to and I am sure she would appreciate it if you would respect her “no”. Your post sounds rather condescending. You can invite her to join you in certain practices, and you can try to engage her in the types of discussions you’d like to have, but it’s not your place to evaluate what is in her heart or her motivations behind what she gave up for Lent. You said in your post “All I can do that I know is pray and try to let go of my need for control and insistence that she experience God on the same way I do.” You are exactly right. Do that!

I commend you. It is your job, as a spouse, to do everything you can to get your wife to heaven.

As a man, it is your job to lead in the family’s religious life… Some people just are uncomfortable leading in prayer, so keep leading yourself.

Why don’t you ask your wife to do some sort of Bible study with you? Also, ask her more open-ended questions to generate conversation.

Perhaps she’s going through a period of desolation and is just doesn’t want to talk about it (maybe she’s ashamed?)

Bottom line- don’t give up. Keep communicating and thinking of new ways to show your faith together. But understand that your preferred way of praying may not be hers.

Good luck!

I have to say that, if I were your wife, your prodding and poking about in my spiritual journey would elicit a far less kind response than the one you’ve received.

I could actually see it having the reverse effect.

It’s his JOB to make sure that his wife is on a spiritual journey. Spouses will be held accountable to God.

When God asks me at Judgement, “Where is your spouse?” I don’t think He will respond well to “Well, I don’t really know. I didn’t want to prod or poke in her spiritual affairs.”

In principal, sure. But the OP comes off as really superior.
Sometimes the zealous folks can’t help but hound people they feel don’t measure up. I agree with Della, Xantippe, without, and Bookworm.

Leave her in peace. All in God’s time, not ours.

On the other hand, no husband can “make” his wife conform to what he thinks her spirituality ought to be. This gal is not on her way to hell. She’s a faithful Catholic. He simply wants her to demonstrate her spirituality to him. Well, she doesn’t have to do that. This is not about a husband worried about his wife’s eternal destiny–it’s about him dictating to her how she is to pray and how she is to relate to God, which is none of his business just as what sins she may have committed are none of his business but is between her, God and her confessor. He’d do better to recommend she get a spiritual director. He’s trying to be that for her, but he’s not doing a good job due to his impatience and seeming need to control her. As I wrote, a shepherd is not a cattle driver. He has to chose which he wants to be.

Is it better for him to say, “Well, she’s not here because my I nagged her so much because she wasn’t walking her journey in the way I felt she should that she no longer traveled it with me?”

Thank you Regina. Wow how unkind and uncharitable many of my fellow Catholics are. The person identifying as atheist was more Christlike than many of you. I never said I was superior to my wife. I said that I wanted to find ways to gently encourage my wife to deepen her relationship with God. We are an equal partnership, I am simply called by God to be the spiritual head of my family. It is my Job to be concerned about her and the future kid’s spiritual welfare as its her’s to be concerned about mine. I want to Love my wife as Christ loves the Church. I am not seeking superiority, an ego trip, or a condescending tone. I am seeking ways to be more loving and or service to my wife. I acknowledged that my walk was not her walk and my way was not her way, but some of you, I guess missed that. It being Lent and all, I will not respond to snarky comments like “give up brow beating your wife,” or “if I were your wife…” I love my wife more than gold or precious silver, I want her good above my own, and wish to serve her as I serve Christ.

To those who are encouraging bless you, to those filled with negativity, let’s just move on


OP, you were the one who acknowledged you have a need for control. You asked for suggestions, and I merely told you how I would feel if my DH tried your approach. If you don’t think it applies, you are certainly free to ignore it.

Not everyone can, or should, have spiritual lives that look the same. That is the beauty of Catholicism, that there are many different devotions and ways of carrying on one’s spiritual life, all of which lead to God. It appears that your wife has an entirely different temperament from your own, and the pratices you find helpful do not appeal to her. Nothing is wrong with either of you. Consider how different the saints have all been!
The most helpful thing she could have would be a spiritual director who shares, or at least understands, her particular temperament and can guide her to those devotions which she finds beneficial. I’ve known people who wasted a lot of time on spiritual books and devotions that their friends recommended, but did absolutely nothing for their own spiritual life.

All I’m saying is there was a lot of lack of charity, snark, and nastiness coming from posters who misread, misinterpreted. And took what I said way out of context. Some of you folks, yourself included judged my motives without asking any clarifying questions or sought to understand. Is it always this nasty when someone pouts their heart out, acknowledges their short comings, and seeks to be more charitable and loving towards their spouse?

You answered your own question. Yes you need to pray for your wife and let go of your need for control
There are many different expressions of someone’s own spirituality within the Catholic church. As evidence of this look at the differences between how the Dominicans express their spirituality with God vs the Franciscans vs the Carmelites. Clearly your wife is not expressing her spirituality up to your standards but maybe you should not be judging your wife up to your standards. Maybe you’re spirituality is more preaching and teaching like the Dominicans but your wifes spirituality could be more quiet and contemplative like the Carmelites. Maybe your wife isn’t interested in leading the family in spontaneous prayer. I know personally when I’m put on the spot to lead spontaneous prayer…internally I think uggh, to me personally, for my spirituality, it just feels unnatural . As a way to help your wife of course pray for her. And don’t hold your wife up to your standards. But encourage her to grow in her spirituality in a way that is natural for her

I’m never said she had to have a Spirituality like mine, I simply said mine was expressive and more charismatic. What I DID say is that I wanted her to develop a spirituality INDPENDENT from mine; for it not to look like mine and for her simply initiate prayer on her own once in a while. I really wish people would read what is posted, not what they think was posted based on their own pr conceived notion. I must return to work. This has become upsetting

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