My husband is an introvert. He loves small groups of people, or better yet – one on one encounters. He doesn’t need a lot of friends, and he engages best with other people in smaller environments.
I am an extrovert. I love bigger groups, facilitating events, and hosting regularly. Though we’re opposites in so many ways, we’ve been able to cultivate a community of fellow believers which supports us in our own walk with God. I’m often asked by other young wives – particularly those with introverted husbands – how my spouse got on board with being in Christian community. How did he become willing to engage with people on a regular basis, even when he might prefer a smaller group (or no group at all)?
Begin with Prayer
I cannot stress enough how important it is to pray for your spouse to have a heart for community. You cannot live out a strong Christian marriage in isolation because you cannot live out a strong Christian life in isolation.
Most husbands are very limited in this regard. There are plenty of Bible studies and groups for women, but getting men to show up together can be much more difficult. My husband notes that many church events for men are themed around specific sports or outdoors activities, like hunting, which alienates young husbands who aren’t into those things. Community where you 1) don’t know anyone 2) must converse with people you don’t know about a hobby you don’t enjoy and 3) continue to show up to this environment long term makes many men reluctant to engage in the church.
So pray. Pray for your husband to desire community with fellow believers, and then keep your eyes and heart open to ways he can do this that is MORE than just showing up to a men’s retreat. Real community happens in real life, at your kitchen table, not in a gymnasium. As you pray for your husband, his heart will be prepared by the Spirit for the opportunities to come.
Be the Host
On my own site, I frequently discuss the importance of opening your home even when your home is imperfect. This is key for wives of quiet, homebody husbands. Your spouse may not feel like leaving the house every week after work for small group – so host a Bible study in your home! Hosting is not the same as teaching. Everyone can contribute and you can cultivate community right in your living room.
My husband and I try to host a study once a week, then host an individual couple or a few guests one other time a week. This way we get both the “big group” and the small, intimate setting – one for each of us!
Affirm His Efforts
Josh and I have had some direct conversations where he asked me to not have people over SO much, and I encouraged him to stop withdrawing and to make an effort when in community. We always come back to Scripture, particularly the book of Acts, which points out the necessity of being in Christian community. This was not the kind of church environment we see today – it was an active, engaged, group of people who prayed for one another and discussed the Word together. Knowing that this is God’s expectation for us helped my husband realize its importance.
Whenever he leads a study time, asks a good question, or initiates inviting someone over, I affirm those efforts because I know that he is doing something out of his comfort zone. Just as I would want to be affirmed for taking a big step, I try to affirm him in his own growth.
Look for Couples Who Share Your Values
Finding godly friends is a lot like dating. There’s tons of trial and error, inviting and not being invited back, and finding out halfway through a double date that the relationship just won’t work. But keep trying, and keep praying! God ALWAYS answers a perseverant prayer for community – but He does so as you make an active effort to find those people.
Tell your spouse you are looking for couples who share your values and who both of you will enjoy hanging out with. Pray for them and keep your eyes open – then invite! Pick a night of the week to have people to dinner. It can be something simple like pizza or tacos. Then keep cultivating the relationship and see where it goes.
Disciple and Be Discipled
Encouraging your spouse to be in community starts with understanding the biblical mandate to be discipled and to disciple others. From there, you can take tangible steps like I just shared to facilitate that environment. If your spouse isn’t excited about the ideas, keep praying for his heart to be softened and open to community. A lot of times it’s simply fear holding them back – fear of being rejected, or fear of looking silly, or fear of the unknown. Be understanding for the journey and keep showing up… both in prayer and in your church.
Phylicia Masonheimer is an author, speaker, and founder of Driven Women. She teaches strong-hearted women how to follow Christ’s call in work, home, and the world. She writes about the Bible, productivity, and sexuality on her website, and her book on biblical sex can be found here: Christian Cosmo: The Sex Talk You Never Had. She lives with her husband and daughters in northern Michigan.