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Help, I’m Married to a Fool


Twenty years. That is a long time to be married. Yet, it feels as if I blinked and my husband and I were celebrating our twentieth anniversary. Others observed a couple who seems to be taking joy in the institute of marriage—but that was not always the case. We had ups and downs throughout our marriage.

I came to know Christ four years into our marriage. I remember vividly reading the Bible for the first time as it came alive with both personal conviction and the comfort of the one who forgives. I spent a great deal of time in prayer over my marriage. My husband and I seemed to be at odds on a regular basis, and although I would like to say it was always his fault, in truth, we were young, selfish, and trying to adjust to life with many children in a short time frame.

But there was something else. I couldn’t put my finger on it, and so, each morning I poured my heart out to God begging him to fix my marriage. Was it me? Was it him? What was missing? How could I ever be happy and fulfilled when we didn’t seem to be on the same page? Sometimes, I thought, we were writing completely different books!

Then, a few years later, it happened. Early one morning, reading through the Bible, I came across the story of Abigail and Nabal. It was through this story the Lord took the blinders off and gave me new direction.

Lessons I Learned from Abigail

If you are unfamiliar with the story from the book of 1 Samuel, Nabal was a wealthy and great man in Maon, yet his name meant fool, a part he played well. He was married to Abigail, who is described as a woman of good understanding and a beautiful countenance.

We are not privy to how the two of these got together, but I’m not sure that’s what we are suppose to focus on. The point is a good woman was married to a fool, but this does not define her; in wisdom, she used this understanding to respond properly.

To bring this into context, we are not talking about trivial marital matters. We are talking about a man the Bible calls churlish and evil in his doings. His servants described him as railing on visitors, a man who could not be reasoned with. I can only imagine the feelings of loneliness Abigail had to ward off as the relationship never deepened or blossomed because humility was lacking.

As the story continues, Nabal foolishly responded to a group of men sent by David to request provisions. Provisions his army had earned. Upon hearing this, David set out to slaughter Nabal’s entire household. A servant told Abigail, and in wisdom, this gal saved her entire household.

The Responsibility for My Marriage

While reading this story, I quickly grabbed my concordance and dictionary to do some more research…

From Webster’s 1828 dictionary: In Scripture, fool is often used for a wicked or depraved person; one who acts contrary to sound wisdom in his moral deportment; one who follows his own inclinations, who prefers trifling and temporary pleasures to the service of God and eternal happiness.

That morning I realized that the deepening divide in our marriage was not something I could fix, but that it had to be wisely navigated. My relationship with my husband would not be better until he made the decision to acknowledge God above his own inclinations.

That being said, the wisdom I learned from Abigail that morning helped the days become more peaceful as the Lord began to work for many, many years in my heart and the situation.

Abigail’s Example

From tidbits in 1 Samuel we can conclude that Abigail was a woman who responded instead of reacting. Trust me, if I had heard from the servant, I would have marched over to my foolish husband’s tent and railed on him for putting us in danger! That’s called reacting. Instead, Abigail responded by quickly getting provisions together to resolve the matter.

Abigail was also a trusted woman. The members of the household felt safe informing her of the disastrous response of her husband. She acted as a buffering system. The household felt safe coming to her with their concerns, in which she had influence, and although the household did not respect Nabal, through Abigail peace was kept.

Abigail dealt in truth. She did not mince words. Once she had gathered provisions and loaded a donkey, she hastened towards David’s encampment. She met David and his army, on their way to kill her entire household, and jumped down and bowed to the ground. Saying of her husband: “Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a license for us to begin walking around calling our husbands men of Belial, but it does tell me that she was not afraid to speak truth in the appropriate time.

A Proper Response

I often have the opportunity to share a dinner table with other couples. When the husband acts like a fool, the woman tends to try and brush it under the proverbial carpet by ignoring it, redirecting the conversation, or apologizing for her husband’s behavior. That’s not how Abigail handled it. She called a spade a spade.

I’m not advocating total mayhem at the dinner table, creating awkward moments for your guests, but there are ways to properly respond in situations where your husband is acting like that donkey Abigail rode on!

Abigail had good timing. The Bible says that Abigail did not tell her husband that she was off to save the household. She knew the right actions that had to take place and proceeded. It was pointless—and even dangerous—to try and reason with an unreasonable husband.

In my experience, the story of Abigail can be uncomfortable because her actions seem to fall outside the traditions of the complementarian roles we like to ascribe to. However, Nabal’s behavior required Abigail to go outside these bounds and use wisdom in responding.

I can say firsthand that life is never delivered in a neat package wrapped up in a pretty bow. We are all sinful creatures, battling the desire for self each day. This results in the need to work hard at the marriage relationship, having the wisdom at each turn to respond properly. This wisdom can only be obtained at the feet of Jesus, as he navigates each unique circumstance and situation.

The Rest of the Story

The beauty of growth is that God never stops teaching and developing us. It has been years since these first lessons from Abigail, and much has happened in my life and spiritual growth. See how God has continued to work in my life in “After Intermission.”

With five kids in their teen and early adult years, Rebecca shares the many ups and downs of parenting, homeschooling, and keeping it all together. As the Well Planned Gal she mentors women towards the goal of discovering the uniqueness Christ has created in them and their family and how to best organize and plan for the journey they will travel.

  • Meagan Walters

    Please email me when you can. I would love to connect with you. I’m married to a Nabal, too. It’s so comforting to realize I’m not the only one. Many prayers please!

    September 10, 2016 at 7:46 am Reply
  • Laura

    Thank you for your article. Trying to wisely navigate around a husband with foolish tendencies is so hard.

    September 23, 2016 at 8:38 am Reply
  • TJ

    Thank you! It’s nice to know I am not alone- not that I take delight in your misfortune. I wish your circumstances were different, too. Life is hard, especially when you make a poor marriage decision. We are at 24 years, now.

    October 31, 2016 at 4:49 pm Reply
    • TJ

      I should have also mentioned that my Bible pages about Abigail are well-worn. God was thinking of ME when He made sure her story was included- that gives me such comfort.

      October 31, 2016 at 4:51 pm Reply
  • T

    I find myself once again in pain today because of my Nabal and his indifference toward me. I have no one to turn to because everyone loves him and doesn’t see how he treats me or our children. It’s been 17 years and I am so weary. Please pray for me.

    January 13, 2017 at 3:54 am Reply
  • Diana

    Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I’ve been struggling with this moral dilemma myself. God is still giving me strength. This post has been so encouraging.

    August 16, 2017 at 2:23 pm Reply
    • Ann Hibbard

      I’m so glad you were encouraged, and I know Rebecca will be glad to see this, too. I’m stopping right now to pray for you as you continue your fight.

      August 16, 2017 at 2:37 pm Reply
  • Kristy Haslund

    Thank you for your article. Women since creation have had decide if they’ll remain in their marriage even though it wasn’t really a Godly marriage…even though their husbands aren’t godly men. I feel comforted reading your article. However, I felt it was a bit like a cliff hanger. What do you do when your husband acts like a fool in front of Guests? Or when he starts to try to make you look a fool? What about the foolish things your husband does behind your back? Such as misrepresenting your character when you’re not around to respond at all?
    This post is old but I do hope to connect with you.
    Thank you.

    September 19, 2017 at 7:37 am Reply
  • Tina Schick

    I’m 29 years in. My husband refuses to do anything to bring healing to our marriage. I’m almost 59. Not sure which is worse on my grown children, staying together or divorcing. I’ve been a stay at home, homeschooling mom. I have two part time jobs now but they would not support me. Not sure what to do. Waiting on God’s direction. It’s a horrible place to be. I want what’s best for my family and to please the Lord.

    May 3, 2019 at 9:02 am Reply
  • JS

    I often feel my husband acts and talks foolishly, which I feel sad about. I also feel so sorry for him. The bad thing is that the older he gets, the worse this gets. Something happened this evening and it lead me to searching the following on Google : when you have a foolish husband.
    Your article came up and although I have read through the books of Samuel a number of times I had never paid attention to Nabal until today. I have been praying for my husband for years and at times I give up. Now I have just turned it over to God as I don’t know what else to do.

    April 14, 2023 at 5:21 pm Reply

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