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Should Wives Go To Church Without Their Husbands?by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Staying Home With Hubby
Women choose to stay at home with their husbands for a number of good reasons. Perhaps the first is Strategy. "I really want our whole family involved in church," says a wife we'll call Mary*. "But I know that if I insist on going, Jim would never follow. It has to be his idea. Male ego, I call it." But for the past three autumns Jim has been quite happy encamped in front of the TV watching football on Sunday mornings. Mary is still waiting.
A second reason is Family Togetherness. "Jim has to work every other Saturday," says Jennifer, "so often Sunday is our only day together. We often plan activities as a family. Church has never been one of them." Going to church vs. family events. Guess which wins out?
A third rationale is Religious Conflict. Connie and Tim have never been able to agree about religion. He was raised Catholic though his parents seldom went. She was brought up Methodist. "Whenever I talk about going to church," she says, "he accuses me of not wanting the children to grow up Catholic. I don't think he really cares. But his Italian mother would have a fit!" So Connie hasn't gone to church--with or without her preschool children--since she has been married.
A fourth problem is Marital Strife. "Whenever I mention wanting to go to church," comments Melissa who has been married less than two years, "he get's upset. He doesn't object to my faith," she says. "I just think he resents me doing something he doesn't want to do--maybe part of the struggle over who has power in the marriage, I don't know."
These women aren't alone. Thousands of wives stay home year after year immobilized. Often it isn't until some crisis strikes that they will look seriously for a church.
But there are a number of good reasons why women are beginning to show up at church without their husbands.
Women are becoming more decisive about not neglecting their own needs. Carol found that life smoothed out for her. "While I was trying to cope with my own resources, things got pretty rocky," she said. "Since I've gotten Jesus into proper perspective in my life, I think I'm a better wife, and I know I'm happier within myself! No one could take that step for me," she adds. "I had to do it for myself."
A sense of responsibility for her children's faith is what motivated Dyann. "One Sunday morning I realized that my six-year- old had never been to church or Sunday school," she said. "I know I can't give her my faith, but I am responsible to help her learn about Jesus so she'll be able to develop her own faith as she grows. To rob her of a knowledge of God would be even worse than robbing her of the ability to learn to read." Dyann and her daughter, Lisa, have been attending church ever since. During the worship service, children Lisa's age are taught about God at their own level, while Dyann is free to worship alongside other adults without distraction.
Susan found that her husband Terry began to join her at church after she had been attending for three or four months. "I told him I was going to start going to church every Sunday that we didn't have something else planned," she says. "He came to the Easter service with me, and has been coming most Sunday's since--except for Superbowl Sunday, of course, and the weekends he goes hunting. Someone had to get the ball rolling," says Susan. "I decided it would be me."
"My husband never seems to want to go anywhere," says Bobbie. "I began to go to church to make some friends. And it's been wonderful. Besides the refreshing my faith has experienced, I now have several women who live nearby with whom I'm beginning to open up. It turns out they had been looking for friends, too. I should have done this years ago!"
What's been keeping you away from church? I'd like to encourage you to take that step, even if your husband doesn't want to come with you right now. I think you'll be happy you did.
* Conversations recorded here are compiled from many women's experiences. Their real names are not used.
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