“Ask a Priest: What If My Husband Thinks I’m Preaching at Him?”

Q: What if my husband, who is Catholic, doesn’t want me to talk about God or Jesus, because he thinks I’m preaching? I had an encounter with God when I was 30, and I really want to speak up more about Jesus, because I feel as though I have failed him in the past. My husband, I feel, needs to hear what I have to say. – M.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s one thing to evangelize the world. It’s another to evangelize one’s spouse.

If your husband thinks you are coming across as “preaching,” that might be a signal to step back and rethink your approach.

You might want to focus more on preaching by example: your charity, your patience, your gentleness. All these elements will help to draw your husband closer to the faith. And of course, you could intensify your prayers and sacrifices for him. The more you love him as Christ wants you to love him, the more open his heart will become to encountering Christ.

Here is how the Bible puts it: “Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior” (1 Peter 3:1-2).

What can happen is that couples marry when they are lukewarm in the faith. Later, one spouse has a deep conversion and feels, understandably, the need to share the faith with the other spouse. But the spouse might not be at the same point in the spiritual life.

So this is where the fervent spouse might need to shift gears and try a subtler, less aggressive route to win over the spouse.

I say “win over” as a matter of speaking. Conversion is a gift of grace, not persuasion. It is really the Holy Spirit who will win over your husband. The Spirit works gently in souls, and he has his own timetable.

In the meantime it might help to look for channels outside the home for your evangelical drive. There might be things you can do in the parish or diocese, such as Bible studies, CCD programs, and theology of the body classes.

Stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She will intercede for you and your husband.

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