My Husband just Converted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I feel like our marriage is falling apart. What can I do?

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MY HUSBAND JUST CONVERTED TO THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES. I FEEL LIKE OUR MARRIAGE IS FALLING APART. WHAT CAN I DO?

“My husband is in the process of being recruited to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He started studying the Jehovah’s Witness religion with a female co-worker at his job.  He has been doing these “bible studies” without my knowledge for several months now.

I was shocked when I first discovered this and felt betrayed and blindsided by the news.  He is now refusing to attend church with the kids and me because he thinks that our church isn’t teaching the correct information.  I feel like our marriage is spiraling out of control.  It is heartbreaking to see how ingrained their teachings are in him.  He doesn’t even act like the same person he once was.  He has become so devoted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses that he spends most of his time with them and rarely spends time with us. He was raised in a Christian church, but I’m afraid that he never really got the message there.  I am concerned about our children and the influence he will have on them.  Our children are asking questions as to why daddy isn’t going to church with us anymore. He is open to doing a “bible study” with me, but our discussions about religion always seem to get into heated arguments when I point out the discrepancies in the Jehovah’s Witness teachings.  If I attempt to question anything about it, he turns defensive and treats me like I am an idiot.  The most upsetting part about this is that I went to a Christian college and I have studied these things extensively.  He, on the other hand, has not received any formal education in religion, but yet, he thinks he has it all figured out and that I don’t know what I am talking about. I am hurting and feel like I am causing division for the kids, but I cannot go along with his devotion to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Nor do I want my children to be used as pawns between us. I am afraid that next thing he will do is to insist that the kids go with him to the Kingdom Hall. What can I do to protect them? How do I make this work without jeopardizing our kids or hurting our marriage relationship further?  I love my husband but I am at my wits end on what to do next.”

OUR RESPONSE:

My heart goes out to you as I read many tears into your words. I will pray for the Lord to enlighten the eyes of your husband’s heart. Only the Spirit can change him by revealing the truth to him.  You cannot change him.  No matter how wrong you may feel he is in going the direction of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, you cannot make him your “project” to change and convert back to Christianity. This is a spiritual journey that he needs to discover for himself, as only the Holy Spirit can truly reveal the truth to him.

Having said this, however, there are still ways you can be the spiritual wife and witness God wants you to be to your husband and to your children.  First, you must recognize that his attraction to the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses may be more than just an interest in spirituality.  For someone who may be struggling in aspects of his relationship to you, the act of joining a religion, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, can be like an “affair.”

Being a performance-driven association, the Jehovah’s Witness religion offers your spouse fulfillment of unmet spiritual and emotional needs; and for the male initiate, it can provide a system in which he may obtain immediate respect, power, and authority over the lives of others just by following the rules the Watchtower organization lays out for him.  This can be very attractive, especially if your husband had been struggling with his identity and self-worth due to job-related stress and/or marital issues.

Given the additional fact that in your case, it was a “female” co-worker who had initially attracted your husband to this religion, it might also be helpful to evaluate what may have transpired in your marriage to condition him to become vulnerable to her influence.  As with any extra-marital “affair”, when the initial issues are resolved (whether they are martial or otherwise), our experience has shown that the issue of religious influence becomes much less significant and lot easier to resolve.  Thus, your first priority must be to work toward rebuilding and strengthening your marriage.

Secondly, we must consider the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to have the “answers” to all of life’s questions.  They manifest a great deal of pride and confidence in this claim, and this “confidence” may be what your husband saw in this lady co-worker that has draw him to this religion. Consider these questions:

  • Could his interest in them be a cover-up for the vulnerability he feels in not having the formal education on religion that you do?
  • Could his attraction to their alleged “knowledge of the Scriptures” be his way of handling the pressure he feels to become the “spiritual leader” in the home?
  • Could it be that when you question the “answers” they have given him, he becomes angry because he feels you are disrespecting him by viewing his religious studies as “inferior” to your “higher education”? Could this be the reason he puts you down and speaks of you in demeaning terms when you question his beliefs?

You must consider these questions if you want to become an effective witness to him. A good Christian friend once told me, “The male ego is a very delicate thing.”  This is why I believe God commands wives to win their unbelieving husbands by their respectful behavior and not by religious arguments or debates (1 Peter 3:1-2).  This is something that only the Holy Spirit can do through you.  We don’t know when or how He will open your husband’s eyes to His truth, but we do know that the Lord has you and your children in His precious hands.  He has something he wants to accomplish in your life and marriage in spite of this attack from Satan.

Your job is to be faithful! Just be faithful to what the Lord has called you, as a Christian woman, to do. This is not easy, but it is not a war of words either. Do not worry about what you are to say, for the Lord will give you the words at the right time.  Let Matthew 10 and 1 Peter 3 be your guide:

“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” —Matthew 10:19-20

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” —1 Peter 3:1-2

Remember that your husband is likewise being told at the Kingdom Hall that he will win you over by doing such things as leaving literature for you to read and by showing you how much he has become a better husband by offering to do a “bible study” with you. But as you are already seeing, his new faith is completely powerless to make him a better father or husband. This is because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have the power of the Holy Spirit to help them; so they are left to do everything in their own strength.

The reason he is so devoted to them is because they are rewarding him with “friendship” and special “privileges” in congregationThey are also giving him convincing arguments that he is “right,” and you are “wrong.” Do not fight this! Just live the way God would have you live. You are still to be submissive and not hold grudges toward him for the way he is acting toward you and the kids. You must LOVE him with the love of Jesus.  I know that this is impossible to do!  You cannot do this unless you are being filled daily with the love of God. It is by your heart being filled with God’s love that will enable you to show him something that he will NEVER see in the Jehovah’s Witnesses — unconditional love. You must love him the most when he is being the most unlovable.

Are you getting the picture here? You must demonstrate the love of God to him every day so that he will begin to see the difference. Do not preach to him and refuse to argue with him. Draw your strength continually from reading the Word of God and sharing it daily with your children. Help them understand how important it is to love their daddy because he is so lost. You are right! He is not the same man. He has been blinded by the Devil and he is no longer thinking for himself. Do not hold this against him.  After all, how could you be angry at a blind man for being blind?!

For now, you are being tested to see if you will run to the Lord or away from Him in this trial.  The Lord will open his eyes at the right time. I have seen this happen with others who waited on the Lord when they found themselves in the same situation that you are in right now.  I have also seen the opposite occur in cases where people tried to force their Jehovah’s Witness spouses to see the truth through convincing arguments and debates.  The result when pressed has always been the same; The Jehovah’s Witness spouse reacts to the criticism with stronger commitment to the organization. 

You must understand how mind control works in the Jehovah’s Witness religion.  Jehovah’s Witnesses have been conditioned to believe that the Watchtower organization is God’s “Truth”, His “channel of communication” to mankind.  Thus, anyone who opposes or criticizes this religion is actually seen as opposing God Himself!  So, if a spouse, friend or family member challenges the teachings or practices of the organization, Jehovah’s Witnesses automatically react with the Watchtower programmed (thought-stopping) technique — to reject the critical person or idea as an “attack from Satan” and to automatically run to the organization for “safety.” This is why arguments or debates over Scriptural beliefs are rarely effective when the Jehovah’s Witness is under this mind control and is not thinking for himself.

I’m not sure if you have the authority to refuse to let your husband take your children to the Kingdom Hall. The Bible says that husbands are to have their children under their control (1 Timothy 3:4), but it doesn’t say that wives are to be controlled by their husbands, but only “submissive” in a respectful way to their guidance on matters that do not contradict Scripture.

It does not matter if your children are exposed to the lies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as long as they are hearing the truth from you and seeing your example. It is important that your children see you reading and studying God’s Word every day. You must pray for God to put a hedge of safety around them. Pray with them each night and let them hear your prayers for their father. Let them see through your example that you are submissive, supportive and loving to this man who is their father. They will respect you and therefore they will follow your faith when they are old enough to make the decision for themselves. They will also see the difference for themselves.

This is very important: Do not say anything derogatory about your husband! It can be tempting to let your frustrations show in your words, but you must never make a place for the devil by speaking poorly of your husband or revealing his faults. You need to be prepared that your husband may talk very poorly about you to your children, but you must never reciprocate by talking poorly about him. You must do everything within your power to build up your children’s respect for him as a father. I know right now, you may be thinking that this is not good advice or very hard to do, but the Lord will reward your faithful example. Trust HIM with all you heart and do not lean upon your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). It may look on the outside like your efforts are not making a dent in your husband’s life, but they are. This is where you have to walk by faith, not by sight. Don’t trust what you see with your eyes; trust the Lord alone! He will never mislead you, but your heart will (Proverbs 28:26).

Finally, I would like to encourage you to accept your husband’s offer to do a “bible study” with him.  You may be thinking, “How can I do this without getting into a debate or argument over his beliefs?”  Here’s how. First of all, read the following article entitled: “QUESTIONS TO ASK JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WHEN THEY KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR.”  This article will guide you into the effective questions you can ask your husband when you are “studying” the Bible with him and one of the key Jehovah’s Witness doctrines comes out in your study.  Then, follow these steps:

1. VERY IMPORTANT: Ask him to read the Bible together with you without using any outside literature – especially the Watchtower literature.  This is very important because he has been taught to accept the Watchtower’s interpretation over his own ideas.  If you tell him that you are not comfortable with him using any other literature in your study, this will force him into doing his own thinking about the Scriptures, instead of mindlessly accepting the Watchtower’s ideas and interpretations.

2. Ask him to read and study “verse-by-verse” with you. Do not let him do “topic” studies with you.  This will help prevent your studies from becoming a “bible ping-pong battle” where you argue over Scriptural differences by throwing “ping-pong” proof text verses at each other. That type of study goes nowhere because it merely reinforces the Watchtower programmed responses to Christian arguments.  Instead, ask him to read verse-by-verse through the chapter, keeping everything in context so that you arrive at the author’s intended meaning, instead of the Watchtower’s twisted meaning.

3. When you come to a passage of disagreement, write it down in a notebook and agree to continue reading through the entire chapter.  Agree that in your studies, you will wait to see if any other verses in the context provide additional insights into the true meaning of the passage in question before making any judgments on the questionable interpretation.  When either of you come to a verse that you feel supports one or the other person’s interpretation of the passage in question, write that verse down in your notebook and continue reading.  Never allow your disagreements to become a springboard for a confrontational “debate” or an, “I told you so; I was right, you were wrong” argument.  Do not argue over your husband’s “twisted” interpretation of a verse or a passage; just write that verse down in your notebook, agree to disagree, and continue reading.

4. Always start and end your Bible study time with prayer. Allow your husband to lead in prayer, and if he allows you to pray, address your prayers to “Jehovah.”  Jehovah’s Witnesses are suspicious of prayers that are addressed simply to “Lord” or “God” because they are led to believe that if you do not use God’s name “Jehovah,” your prayer may end up going to Satan.  Also, since Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe Jesus is God, be careful not to pray directly to “Jesus” when you are praying aloud with your husband. You want to do all you can to help him feel comfortable around you so that he doesn’t feel like you are trying to force your beliefs on him.  Also, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that women must not be allowed to lead a man in prayer, so don’t be upset if he never allows you to lead in prayer, but if he does allow you to pray in his presence, count it as a real “privilege.”

Ask questions to make him think when you disagree. Do not argue or act like you are trying to “teach” him; Just ask him questions to help him “discover” for himself what the Scriptures are saying as he reads the Bible with you.  There may come a point in which your husband may ask you to do a “study” with some of the ladies or with a husband and wife from the Kingdom Hall.  If he asks you this, I encourage you to use caution and pray about whether the Lord is leading you in this. There are pros and cons to accepting an offer such as this.

  • Pros: A “study” program with the Jehovah’s Witnesses can be beneficial as they will send a woman or a husband and wife couple to study with you. This will avoid you having to confront your husband directly on issues of disagreement. Instead, you will be able to relate to him how the Jehovah’s Witnesses were unable to answer your questions.  In this way, you will be able to talk to him about the unscriptural nature of his beliefs without confronting him directly.  One word of caution: If you go this route, I would also suggest that you not be too eager to share with him how they were not able to answer your questions, but rather, wait until he asks you about your weekly studies with them.  Let his curiosity regarding your “weekly studies” build to the point that he “probes” by asking what you have been learning with them. You can see how this can be a perfect opportunity to share because his guard will be down at this point.
  • Cons: A “study” program with the Jehovah’s Witnesses can backfire on you when they discover that they cannot convince you. If you are too argumentative with them or do not “progress” in accepting their beliefs (i.e., un-teachable), they may end up labeling you as a “proud opposer” — someone who is not “humble” enough to learn from them. If they label you like this, they may also warn your husband not to discuss religious ideas with you at all for fear that you would be a “bad” influence on him. So, I encourage you to use real “caution” if you do a “study” and just ask one or two really good questions each meeting so that they can see you are a “serious” student of the Bible, and not one who is meeting with them just to “argue.”

So these are the risks you must consider before you accepting a “study” with Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Kingdom Hall. I would suggest that you only accept this offer if you sense through your Bible reading time with him that he is beginning to reconsider some of his Jehovah’s Witness beliefs.  If it seems that he is wanting to “test” your beliefs by having you meet with the “experts” from his Kingdom Hall, this can be a really good sign that your witness is having an effect on him. Only then, if they do end up labeling you as “un-teachable” or an “opposer” will he be able to see their hypocrisy when they cannot answer your questions.

As your husband becomes more and more involved in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he will become depressed at the pressure to perform and the feelings of fear, guilt, and inadequacy that this legalistic religion imposes on its followers.  It is at points like these that he will be most open to question you about your beliefs and why you are so happy, secure and content in your faith.  It is at times like these that you will be able to share from your heart what you know to be true by the testimony of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in your life. It is at times like these that indeed you will win him “without a word” by your Christian behavior.

May God be with you, your children, and your poor husband.

Other resources on our website that you may find helpful are:

bullets My wife recently joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses. What can I do about her lack of trust?
bullets FAQ Help – Marriage and Dating a Jehovah’s Witnesses
bullets WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO RESCUE YOUR LOVED ONE FROM JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES —How to Open the Closed Mind of a Jehovah’s Witness Friend or Relative
bullets CHRISTIAN CONVERSATIONS WITH JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES—Biblical Answers To Questions Jehovah’s Witnesses Ask
bullets DVD Seminar: Jehovah’s Witnesses Questions: Answering Questions Your Jehovah’s Witness Friends Ask

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