Letting a fallen sinner lead is always difficult – and sometimes no easier when he’s your husband AND the pastor of your church. It’s often confusing and frustrating for us, as pastors’ wives, to know how to support our husbands when we question a decision he has made. We sometimes struggle to know who is right or wrong, and wrestle with the desire to grab the wheel in decision making. We inwardly wrestle with when to say something and when to keep silent. Yet we are called to be “in it” with him, wrestling together to discern God’s direction for our flock. When and how we speak and use our influence matters, and how we get to the final decision is best served by respectful dialogue. So we sit with the question, “How do I let my voice and my heart be heard in a respectful way?”  




The sun shines on a patched-together road that stretches to the horizon. In the foreground is a large pothole.

Our Heart Posture

Respect leads to productive conversations, but disrespect leads to defensiveness and brick walls. Respectful conversations start with our framework and attitude, in other words, our posture. In order to foster a healthy posture, or heart attitude, before I walk into a tricky conversation, I need to intentionally remind myself of certain truths. 

1). He is part of me – this is not a competition…but a collaboration.

2). He is human with emotional needs. Is there a need or a fear that is driving a decision that he might not be aware of? That I might not be aware of?

3). Consider his limits. Is he feeling stretched beyond his capacity? Is there time in his schedule for this conversation?

4). He is primarily accountable to God, not to me. Here are some things I need to remember about this: 

  • He is due a dignity and honor that comes from who he is as a child of God, leader of the church, and leader of our home.  He has a position that God asks us to honor. He must ultimately answer to the Lord and is accountable to Him. 
  • Trust that God has me in mind when He allows my husbands to make bad choices as well as good choices – we are one and God has multiple agendas in His plan.  All things, including my husband’s decisions, God works together for good for us individually and for His glory.      
  • When I acknowledge that position of honor, I have found that he feels more responsible for listening and seeking the best course of action. He hears what I say as helpful to each of us discerning God’s will for us. 


Generally, respect looks like: Talking openly and honestly with each other, listening to each other, and valuing each others’ feelings and needs. God puts it this way in Romans 12:10: “…outdo one another in showing honor”. Treating our husbands with honor and respect is not based on their actions or decisions and it is not based on how we feel. 

Here are some potholes that we can fall into (and that can do damage to the vehicle of our relationship) in the midst of tricky conversations with our spouses. 


Wife sit next to her husband on a sofa. He sits with his elbows on his knees, hands folded together, supporting his head - his face is turned away from his wife. She has one hand on his knee and speaks to him.

Verbal Potholes

  • Recognize the state of my emotions.I get into trouble when I bring a jumble of unprocessed emotions to sort out.  While I’m putting words to and sorting fresh emotions, I can end up being disrespectful in my speech. If highly emotional, the conversation may need to be temporarily paused. Try journaling as a way to process fresh emotions in order to clearly communicate when the conversation resumes. Or sometimes it just takes making him aware of their unprocessed state by simply saying, “I’ve got a whole lot of feelings that I need some help sorting out.”
  • We have a tender-hearted warrior (and sometimes a “fixer”) in our husband. I need to resist the urge to appeal to that by launching an emotional attack through whining, complaining or manipulation.   
  • Remember, he doesn’t know what you are thinking or feeling. Use words and clarify misunderstanding.
  •  Be clear about whether I have an emotional need vs. problem to solve. Both need to be communicated with words.  If it’s an emotional need – come with a request, not a whine. If it’s a problem to solve – come with a request for a dialogue, not a complaint.
  • Acknowledge and inquire with non-judgmental interest about his perspectives.  (Not – “How could you possibly think that?”)
  • Acknowledge where you agree and build on that.
  • Don’t interrupt.  Even if we think we already know what our husband is going to say, allowing him to say it without cutting him off mid-sentence shows both respect and common courtesy.
  • Consider how your tone and volume might be interpreted by him.
  • If you ask if a decision can be reviewed and he says no, then respect that by affirming your support of him even if you agree to disagree. Leave room for God to work.
  • Avoid verbal behaviors of disrespect such as nagging, criticism, stonewalling, lying, put downs, pressuring the other, disloyalty, and threats to end the relationship or marriage.


A woman stands behind her husband, making faces, as he sits at a desk, working.

Non-verbal Potholes

  • Be mindful of his emotional needs for honor and encouragement. When I forget this, I lack compassion and fail to understand the perspective that comes with his seat on the bus. 
  • Value what he has to say by listening well and understanding the reasons for his choices.
  • Consider what message nonverbal cues send (gestures, facial expressions, eye rolls). They can be used to show respect or disrespect.
  • Make a point to lay other tasks aside, look into his eyes, and listen to what he is saying with the goal of understanding and remembering his words.

Remember that we too are fallen sinners in need of grace and patience. We can show grace and patience to our husbands through productive conversation and a posture of humility. Trust that God will complete the work that he has begun within your marriage and your ministry, whether it looks the way you desire or not. Through a respectful approach and loving encouragement with our husbands, Christ will be glorified.  Ultimately, isn’t this what matters most?



“25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband”