Please allow me to first say that I came up with this list of things not to say to your husband because I have said them all to my husband.
Here's what not to say to your beloved unbeliever:
1. "You should pray about it."
Yes. This is the answer to every conflict we encounter in our lives. You know that, I know that, even our husbands know that. But for our sweet unbelieving husbands, this is not the answer to their conflict. Men are natural born thinkers, and logic is sometimes the only answer they can accept. The act of prayer is a very vulnerable and very intimate thing. We pour our hearts, our hopes, our requests, our dreams, and our heartbreak to a God we cannot see or hear. We cry out seeking answers, yet the answer may not come right away. There is a lot of trust involved with prayer. And for a man who struggles with believing, let alone trusting, God, the idea of prayer may be extremely difficult.
Even Christian husbands may struggle with this answer when they come to you with an exposed heart.
Say this instead: "I will pray for you." Let him know that you understand and that you hear what is on his heart, but rather than just telling him to pray, you will do it for him. There is something so comforting in knowing that somebody is praying for you. And, without giving him a command to do so, you have made him aware that praying is the right answer.
2. "Things happen for a reason"
My husband sees a lot of sad and horrifying things as a firefighter. He often comes home and tries to make sense of these things. I usually answered him with, "things happen for a reason." Thirteen years ago he lost his father to a heart attack, and it's still a daily struggle for him. I used to say, "things happen for a reason." Am I right to say that? I am. Of course I know that God has a plan for everything; however, I am able to put trust in that because I trust God. But my husband doesn't trust God yet. To my husband, when I say "things happen for a reason," it feels like I am brushing off his feelings, like "eh, things happen."
Our husbands are exposed to bad news every day. News broadcasts are filled with stories of daily heartbreak and evil. Our husbands, if they do not know God, may interpret our statement as cliche, something church-goers say to make themselves feel better about the bad things that happen. Your husband doesn't have trust in God or His plan like you do.
Say this instead: "I wish I knew why these things happen." It's true. We wish we knew. We wish we had some insight into God's plan. But we don't, and we aren't supposed to know. God tells us that our thoughts are not his thoughts, neither are our ways his ways (Isaiah 55:8). We aren't supposed to know. But sharing this statement with your husband allows him to see that you are trying to understand why things happen, it's not just him.
3. "Everyone was looking for you!"
Your husband wasn't at church, again. Some of the guys were asking about your husband: "where's your man? He still doesn't want to come out? How's he doing? Tell him I said hello." I find it so encouraging when someone asks me about my husband. It lets me know that they look forward to seeing him and that they are hoping (like me) that one day he will come to church. Well, this phrase is not exactly encouraging to a husband who doesn't regularly attend church. It sounds like we took attendance and everyone turned around to notice that he wasn't there...again.
Say this instead: "[friend's name] asked how you've been doing, he said to say hello." Who doesn't love to know that someone asked about our wellbeing? It makes us feel loved...and who doesn't love that?
4. "I assumed you wouldn't want to go"
Yikes. There was an event at church which I assumed my husband would not want to attend. It was being held on a Saturday night and was a banquet style dinner. I figured, "it's still church, he won't want to go." So I didn't pay for him to attend. I was wrong. And he was so hurt that I didn't even think to ask him whether or not he would like to attend. I'm pretty sure I had that deer in the headlights look on my face because I was so confused. "I assumed you wouldn't want to go," I sheepishly admitted.
General rule of thumb: don't ever assume. Anything. Ever. By assuming he doesn't want to attend church or a special event, it makes him feel as though you could care less whether or not he joined you. And, as I was told by my husband, it made him feel as though I didn't have a need for him, in addition to not feeling cosidered.
Say this instead: "honey, I was wondering if you would like to join me..." Approaching him with this gentle consideration will make him feel loved, respected and wanted. Of course you want your husband to be with you, whether it's church or a social event. If you assume that his answer will automatically be "no," you miss out on the chance that he might say "yes."
5. "God comes first"
As He should. But your husband doesn't understand that. The only thing he sees is someone (or something) taking over his spot in your life. Your husband wants to be your #1 priority. He doesn't want to share you or your time with anyone else. He wants all of your heart, all of your attention and all of your admiration. He doesn't understand that by keeping God as priority you will ultimately be making your husband your top priority, as well.
I am a much better wife when I am connected to God. I wouldn't call myself the best wife, but I'm definitely a much-improved version when I'm close to God. My husband used to tempt me with promised shopping sprees after breakfast...if I didn't go to church. He used to get angry as I would get ready for church, making snide comments and withholding love from me. I used to fight back and say things like "God comes first" with total attitude. With that remark, my husband began to build resentment towards God and church.
Say this instead: "I am a better wife when I'm close to God." Amen - your husband will be like, 'honey, let me walk you to the car, don't forget your bible!' There is a big difference in saying "God comes first" (he hears "you are not as important") and "I want to be a better wife for you" (he feels important). Our men don't yet understand that by keeping God our top priority we are called higher as women, as wives, as mothers, as sisters, daughters and friends. Helping him to understand one of the reasons God needs to be number one in your life is to be a better wife for him will help him appreciate God and what God is doing in both of your lives.
I've said enough of the wrong things to make a list of the top 100 things not to say to your husband. Our words need to be filled with the love, respect and patience for our husbands. They may know about God, but they only see Him through us.
In other words, use the right words.