Struggle to have compassion for your spouse's sin? Follow these 5 steps to increase your compassion and respond to your spouse's sin in a godly way.

How to Have Compassion for Your Spouse’s Sin

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“Who is the biggest sinner in the room?” The question lingered in the air briefly before quiet “I am” rose from all around the room.

I sat confused; clearly we had missed something.

As our small group leader continued, he gave a quick recap from the previous week’s lesson. We are all sinners and our sin alone was enough to put Jesus on the cross. Therefore, we deceive ourselves if we don’t believe we are the biggest sinner in the room.

My brain immediately took issue with this statement. “But I am not the biggest sinner! I don’t know about the rest of these people but my husband’s sins are way worse than mine!”

But as the conversation continued, I saw truth in the points being made. I acknowledged that believing my husband’s sins were worse than mine caused a barrier between us, and planted seeds of bitterness in my heart.

Struggle to have compassion for your spouse's sin? Follow these 5 steps to increase your compassion and respond to your spouse's sin in a godly way.

So even though I didn’t believe I was the “worse sinner,” I prayed a simple prayer: “God, give me compassion for my husband’s sin. Help me see him, as you see him.”

God honors prayers like this—prayers to become more like Him and love our spouse better. And overtime, He taught me how to have compassion for my husband’s sin.

How to Have Compassion for Your Spouse’s Sin

1. Recognize your own sin and the damage it causes.

Accepting the “worst sinner in the room” title went completely against my inner good girl. “I’ve never done anything ‘that bad’” she screamed in my head. And while I wasn’t naïve enough to think I didn’t sin, the good girl inside of me downplayed my sins.

So when I asked God to help me have compassion for my husband’s sin, He started bringing to light my own problem causing sins. It didn’t take long for me to understand my marriage problems were not all my husband’s fault; I played a role in them too.

Once we fully understand how broken and sinful we are, it is a lot harder to be condemning towards our sinful spouse.

2. Pray away your anger and frustration.

One reason my husband’s sin frustrates me is because I don’t understand why he struggles with certain things.  Left unchecked, my brain processes his sin like this, “why does he keep doing that!? It is not that hard to just____.”

But the reality is, he probably thinks the same thing about my sin. We each have different struggles, unique to who we are.

So when I feel anger and frustration start bubbling up over my spouse’s sin I pray: “God, I truly don’t understand why my husband struggles with this thing, but I know the struggle is very real and very difficult for him. Please take away my anger and frustration and give me compassion instead.”

When you say this prayer, you are choosing to empathize with your spouse’s struggle even if you do not understand it.

3. Envision your husband is in a battle.

As I became more aware of my sin, I noticed just how often I fell into the same bad patterns without even thinking about it. I didn’t want to hold a grudge, but I refused to forgive. I didn’t want to be hurtful, but harsh words fell from my lips.

Paul’s words to the Romans ring true for me: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15 ESV)

The same is true of your spouse.

We are all in a battle: our sinful nature vs. our desire to be godly. (If your spouse is not a Christian then he may not desire godliness; but just because he doesn’t recognize the battle, doesn’t mean it isn’t taking place.)

Remembering the spiritual battle taking place shifts our perspective. It reminds us that our loved one is under attack from the enemy. What he needs most is our help, not our condemnation.

4. Show your husband grace and mercy.

To be honest, I’ve always struggled with showing grace and mercy; especially with repeat offenses (Shouldn’t he have learned his lesson the first time?). But Christian author and speaker Rick Thomas convicted me with this statement:

Struggle to have compassion for your spouse's sin? Follow these 5 steps to increase your compassion and respond to your spouse's sin in a godly way.

Rick’s statement revealed to me a deeper way I needed to be like Jesus. Jesus does not condemn our sins. As Paul says:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

When my husband repents and asks for forgiveness, Jesus immediately covers him with his grace and mercy. Since we are sinners covered by the same grace, shouldn’t we do the same? After all, how can we make our spouse pay for a sin which Christ already paid for?

If you can wrap your mind around this profound truth, grace and mercy will flow more freely.

*Disclaimer: This section applies to a husband who has repented of his sin and is walking with God. If you are in an abusive relationship or your physical or mental well-being are endangered by your spouse, please get help and seek a safety. You can still be compassionate for your husband trapped in sin while keeping yourself safe.

5. Pray for you husband.

Prayer is one of the most compassionate things we can do for another because only God has the ability to change hearts and meet needs in a profound way.

When I am moved with compassion for my husband’s sin, I find myself in prayer, interceding on his behalf.  These are not “God change him because I want him to change” prayers. No, I remind God that my husband is his child and He needs to send him help. I quote scripture about God saving and redeeming the lost, and ask Him to guide my husband’s steps back in line with the Spirit.

Having compassion for your spouse’s sin does not mean you ignore the sin. The Bible makes it clear we are to gently call out other believer’s sin.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Galatians 6:1 (ESV)

But we can be hard on the sin while still loving the sinner. (Need help with this? Check out [affiliate link] Boundaries in Marriage). We can be compassionate, when our natural reaction is to condemn.

Linking up at Salt & Light 

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12 thoughts on “How to Have Compassion for Your Spouse’s Sin

  1. Great points! We just heard in church yesterday about the incredible importance of forgiveness – how we are most like God when we forgive. We have to show our spouses compassion, or else we are forgetting/ignoring the very blessing God bestowed on us in Christ! Thank you for the encouragement in this area 🙂

    • I love when God lines up reoccurring messages for people! When He does this to me I figure it is something I really need to grasp.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank youuuu for this post. Thought I was crazy for forgiving something most people wont. Because this is what I did with my husband. I am a christian and in my head I was like “who am I to judge and punish my husband”. But then also in my head I was like ” but why should I forgive him?” Then I thought, ” If God forgave me my sins who am I not to forgive my husbands sin.” This is my second marriage and I love my husband so much. I just decided Im gonna fight this battle on my knees. And sure enough God came thru. I have my husband back and it is an awesome thing to know that God has our back even tho we are sinners. Cried my eyes out in prayer on my knees for restoration of our marriage. Fervent prayer is the key to forgiveness. Thank you Lord.

    • Praise God for restoration! God can heal in amazing ways if we let him. And yes, some people will never understand your decision to forgive and fight for your marriage, but that’s okay because we only need approval from God, not other people.

  3. We tend to categorize sin as big sins, small sins, unforgivable sins, and horrible sins. So our sins are seen as okay while spouses’ is deemed as unpardonable.

    The Lord brought to light how every sin is sin for Him and He ultimately forgives us when we confess and repent of our sins.

    What a great insight from you regarding this topic:)

    Blessings
    Diana

    • Exactly right Diana! It’s can be hard to fully comprehend why it works that way, but as long as we understand it does, then we can work towards compassion.

  4. I just had this conversation with my pastor about my husband last night. I was telling him how starting my blog has given me the blessing of seeing my husband anew! God is so wonderful, even though son has no measurement, we all like to think are sins are not as bad as others. In the end Sin is Sin! God bless you and your spouse!

    • Yes, we are particularly prone to thinking our own sin as “less than” someone else’s. I definitely preach to myself through my blog too, I think all Christian bloggers do 😉

    • I’m glad I could encourage you Elizabeth! Praying for our husband’s is so important! They need us on their side in spiritual battle.

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