My Response: What do You Do When You’re "Unequally Yoked"?

When You're Unequally Yoked in Marriage: How to build intimacy instead of pushing him away

On Saturday I post reader questions, and this week’s about being unequally yoked caused quite a doozy of a firestorm in the comments. It said:

My husband and I both came from Christian families, but when we married neither of us was following God. Since our wedding I’ve come back to Jesus, but my husband never has. We go to church, but he gets nothing out of it. I’m almost embarrassed to go with him, because he’s not a strong Christian man like all the other men there. I want so desperately to experience spiritual intimacy with my husband, but I don’t think we ever will. I feel like I’m missing out on a really important part of marriage, and I don’t know what to do. I start to feel like I made a really big mistake. Any suggestions?

The comments are wonderful, and made most of the points that I made myself when I emailed the woman back. But I want to add a few thoughts.

Before I do that, though, I just want to say to women who are in “unequally yoked” marriages: I am so glad you found Christ. That is wonderful that you have now experienced His love! And it’s natural, when we’re first Christians, to want everyone to see things the same way we do. We’re excited; we want our husbands to be excited, too. But we feel like we’re missing out on something.

No one has ever brought their husband to Christ by making them feel inferior.

I have seen this dynamic in several marriages of people that I know: she becomes a Christian and is on fire; he is not. And the two have drifted apart, several to the point of divorce. But from the outside, it does not look like he was the cause. Let me explain.

Let’s say that this had nothing to do with religion. Let’s say that two people married and they really enjoyed steaks. They barbecued, they went out to eat, they loved meat. Then one day she becomes a vegetarian out of conviction. And she is horrified that he wants to continue to eat meat.

Who has really done damage to the marriage here? She has, not him. When they married they both liked steaks. Now she has decided not just that she doesn’t like steaks, but that it’s morally WRONG to eat steaks. And so she is trying to make him feel badly.

If we were to look at this example, we would say that she is in the wrong and she needs to let him be. But when it comes to the topic of Christianity, we change perspective, because we know she is in the “right”. She is the one who is saved, so obviously he needs to change. But in the context of marriage, it is she who has upset the apple cart, not him.

And therefore, even in an unequally yoked marriage (or especially in an unequally yoked marriage), the responsibility for keeping the marriage on the straight and narrow falls more on her shoulders, not on his.

In this email, this woman wanted her husband to change. Personally, I was amazed that he had agreed to come to church with her at all. Think about it from his perspective: he’s been a good husband, and they agreed that religion was not going to be part of their marriage. Then she changed the agreement, and he’s trying to follow along. But you can’t expect him to like it.

So when you’re married to an unbeliever because you became a Christian after your wedding, you just need to be very careful about how you treat your husband, realizing that it is YOU who has upset the marriage, not him. That obviously doesn’t mean that you did something wrong; it is wonderful, after all, to be saved! Nothing compares with that. Just try to see things from his perspective.

Second issue: why isn’t he getting anything out of church?

Commenter Mark made a great point that many men DON’T get much out of church. Sitting still and listening to a sermon, and then singing a bunch of songs, really isn’t a guy thing. But I think it goes even further than that. Here’s a question: why do any of us get something out of church? Hint: it’s not because of US. It’s because the Holy Spirit has shown us truth. Before we’re saved we really can’t understand much about God. But after we are, the Holy Spirit opens up our minds and hearts. So to expect someone who isn’t saved to get something out of church is a tall order. And it also forgets that we ourselves are not the reason that we understand God now; that is simply the work of the Holy Spirit.

So those are my two main attitude warnings. Now, what should a woman in this position actually do? After all, she is lonely. She loves God. She’s excited about God. She desperately wants to share that with her husband. She wants to have what she’s supposed to have: a deeply intimate marriage. She misses that. She’s grieving. That’s why the Bible even calls these relationships “unequally yoked”, because we feel that there’s something not quite right. What should she do to keep intimacy in the marriage?

1. Respect Your Husband as He Is

He still deserves your respect. And the more we respect him and express gratitude for the things that he does do, the more we build goodwill. And we start to think of the good in our husbands again. Lots of people can have very good marriages with spouses who are not Christian. Is it ideal? No. But that doesn’t mean a good marriage isn’t possible. Think of the good that he does do, and make a point to always notice it. Tell him when you do. Don’t dwell on what he ISN’T; look at what he IS.

2. Keep Him Involved in the Family

Resist the temptation to build a life for you and the kids that revolves completely around church. This is a tricky one, because you want your kids to grow up loving God. But your children still need their father, and you need to be a family unit. I don’t know what this would look like exactly, but resist the need to go to absolutely everything at church and have all of your friends at church, leaving your husband behind.

'Some Couple' photo (c) 2010, Kan Wu - license:

You can teach your children a lot about God yourself. So yes, go to church and Sunday School. But you don’t need to run the Sunday School or take on a bunch of ministries. Your husband still needs you. Go for hikes with your husband. Play board games as a family. Do things all together.

3. Don’t Look Down on Him

Finally, resist the temptation to think that you are better than he is. I have seen this dynamic happen in several marriages to people that I am close to. She became a Christian; she embraced it wholeheartedly. She started running ministries. Her kids became super involved. And she gave her husband the impression, “I think I’m better than you because I’m tight with God.” And I think she actually thought that. And she thought that him not being a Christian justified her pulling away. After all, she was going towards Christ. What could be wrong with that?

Well, how did he react? In one marriage he withdrew. In the other marriage he reacted in anger. The further away she got, the more he yelled to try to bring her back. He was hurt that the kids were withdrawing, so he’d yell at them, too. This gave her fodder for thinking that he was “less” of a husband, so the cycle got worse and worse until they split up.

I’m not saying his anger was justified. But what if she had simply chosen to respect him and include him in the family? Would things have deteriorated?

With the other marriage, he withdrew, and she said he was an emotionally distant man who didn’t know how to love his kids, so she left him. But looking at both these marriages, it seemed to me that at least initially the husband was acting in the more Christ like manner. He was supporting his wife in going to church, even if he didn’t want to. He wasn’t splitting up the family, though she had changed the dynamic. He was still reaching out to her. But she rejected him, and started this spiral downward.

You are the Christian. Act like it.

Love your husband. Pray for your husband. Love your kids. But make sure that your prayers for him don’t solely revolve around him becoming a Christian, because I think that still has this negative dynamic in your head, like he needs to be fixed. And it can easily set up a martyr dynamic, too: you are the longsuffering person putting up with this man. You are the poor person in an “unequally yoked” marriage that everyone feels sorry for, because you’re with someone subpar.

No! He is your husband. Thank God for what you do have. Praise him. Respect him. Love him. And then run to God to fill the holes you still have in your heart.

Being married to a Christian is wonderful, but it doesn’t fix everything. You still have issues. So don’t build it up in your mind. Let Christ become your main source of peace, and then go and love your husband.

If you’re in a slightly different situation, in that your husband is a Christian, but you don’t feel like he’s enough of a spiritual leader, read this!

Now, I’m probably missing a lot because I’m not in this situation. So if you have anything else to add, please leave a comment! And remember that many of these women are really hurting. If anyone has any great encouragement for them, I’m sure they’d love it!


  1. I just commented to the reader, and like I said in my post, I was kind of surprised by some of the negative comments! I definitely think the reader was wrong in the fact that she was beginning to compare her husband to others (that is coveting), but I think that it is wonderful that she desires to have spiritual intimacy with her husband! In this day and age, it is common to see people forsake that part of their marriage or even that part of their lives, so the fact that she is a relatively new Christian who desires that connection is not wrong. I think that she really shared her heart and told us how she was feeling about it all, and there were a few people who jumped on how she said she was feeling as opposed to addressing the issue as a whole. We have to remember that she is a relatively new Christian, so we shouldn’t be surprised or offended if she is struggling in her mind or with her feelings in such a difficult situation. I’m not a new Christian, and I still wrestle with emotions that I know are not Godly whenever I am faced with difficult people or situations. We all do, so we certainly should be able to guide and correct her IN LOVE and without making her feel like something’s wrong with her.

    I did warn her to avoid making her husband feel bad about himself, and stay away from covetousness. That is wrong, and must, must, must be kept in check before it destroys their marriage. But, I just feel that it is important to acknowledge that she followed the leading and call of the Holy Spirit and made the most important change of her life. God is now the center of her life, and she wants to share her spirituality with the most important person in her life. Good for her! This is a common problem that happens after one spouse is saved, and I pray that God puts Godly and loving people in her path who can help her through this. I pray that God will show her how to use the desire for intimacy to embody Christ to her husband in a way that uplifts him rather than brings him down. I also pray that her husband will grow in his relationship with the Lord so that they can enjoy the spiritual intimacy that I know God desires for them.

    • We have to remember that she is a relatively new Christian…

      According to the email, she came back to Jesus, i.e. she grew up Christian, she drifted away, and now she has recommitted herself. That’s not new. Newly recommitted, perhaps, but not new, so I won’t give her rookie Christian latitude on this one.

      Also, the negative comments are not directed toward her decision to recommit or her desire for spiritual intimacy, the negative responses are directed toward her current attitude toward her husband, an attitude that all but guarantees that spiritual intimacy will NEVER happen.

      Her attitude is very wrong and very dangerous, and if she doesn’t change it then she won’t have to worry about being spiritually intimate with her husband because she won’t have one.

      When an individual is about to step off a cliff, you don’t whisper stop, you scream it. Her holier than thou attitude toward her husband needs to be brought to her attention loudly and abruptly, before it is too late. How do you think God will judge her if, in her newly recommitted faith, she drives her husband away? I find it difficult to believe that on Judgment Day, God will look at her destroyed marriage/family and say, “well, you didn’t love your husband, respect your husband, submit to your husband, or cherish your husband, but at least you recommitted yourself to the church.”

      The scary thing is, given her attitude, she could easily, in her mind, justify divorce and not understand that what she was doing was sinful. and thus in need of repentance and forgiveness.

      Yeah, just don’t see that turning out well.

      She is heading for a cliff, as fellow believers, it is our responsibility and duty to try and make her aware of the pending disaster. Some of us will do so in a more direct fashion than others. Hopefully, one of us will get her attention before it is too late.

      • Um…what about the holier than thou attitude expressed by you and several other commenters toward this woman who opened up her heart to seek advice??? She was very vulnerable in sharing her situation with a trusted mentor (Sheila), and in turn has been attacked and judged.

        Yes, if someone is walking down the wrong path, we need to help them, but we also need to do this in LOVE and not holier-than-thou judgment I’m really appalled by the mean-spiritedness in this and other comments. You’re no better toward her than you’re accusing her of being toward her husband.
        Crystal @ Serving Joyfully recently posted…Our Frugal Meal Plan 10/8My Profile

        • No holier than thou attitude from me. Just a straight-shooting, no-nonsense response from the male perspective. She changed the rules of the marriage and now she feels bad because her husband hasn’t gleefully and excitedly embraced the new rules she unilaterally chose, and according to her, it is all her embarrassing husband’s fault because he isn’t like the other men she sees in church.

          Of course, she has no idea what the other men in church are really like, she only knows them based upon how they act in church.

          You can be as empathetic as you want to be. I have no problem with that, but it is not my style.

          The bottomline is this, her attitude is disrespectful toward her husband and that attitude is exceedingly counterproductive to building spiritual intimacy. If she truly wants spiritual intimacy, then she needs to be patient, loving and respectful toward him, not embarrassed by him.

          She clearly stated what she wants, and I clearly stated that her current attitude is not going to get her what she wants. If pointing out the obvious in a straightforward manner is offensive to you, then so be it. There is a time to coddle and there is a time to smack someone upside the head to make sure you have their undivided attention. Everyone has their own approach.

      • Regardless of whether or not she grew up in a Christian family or not, the truth is that she has turned to the Lord after a long period of being away from Him. Most of the maturity and self-control that comes along with being mature in the faith comes as a result of exercising those Godly principles over time. Being that she’d admittedly been living outside of God’s will for a period of time would tell us that upon recommitting her life, she will be faced with the same challenges that new believers are all faced with. One analogy could be working out. Let’s take someone who used to be a body builder, but hasn’t worked out for years. If they decide to begin again, they may have head knowledge of what they are supposed to do. However, getting back to that point will require training similar to that of someone who is beginning for the first time.

        I also think that there were big differences in the way her email was interpreted, and that’s understandable, because there wasn’t a lot of info given. Personally, I didn’t feel like she gave much indication that she had an “holier than thou” attitude towards her spouse. She did say that she felt embarrased as she was comparing him to other men in the church, but in my eyes that shows her insecurity and not necessarily an holier than thou attitude. I kinda see how some people could interpret it that way, but that’s just not the way I interpreted it. I’ve worked with many “new” Christians who when they enter or re-enter the church, compare themselves and their families to others in the way they dress, how they worship, their giving, the list goes on and on. It’s because of their insecurity and Satan trying to tell them that they can never really measure up to “mature Christians”. I see that happen a lot, so when she made that statement, I immediately made that connection instead of the one that I believe others made. The insecurity certainly needs to be addressed as well, but just in a different way. And acknowledging that she has recommitted to the Lord and her husband has not, doesn’t really show an holier than thou attitude either, especially in a context where she is asking for help on how to handle it.

        I remember being in completely different situation where I had some similar feelings as this woman. I’m ashamed to say that at the time, I would have NEVER admitted to those feelings as the reader did (not even anonymously). I was just too ashamed to tell people what I felt, and I was afraid of how people would see me. I really wanted help, but I was afraid that people wouldn’t be able to look past what I did, and see that I was actually a good person struggling with some bad feelings. I wanted the focus to be on HOW I could change, and not on how wrong I was for not already being changed. Now, I didn’t mind someone telling me I was wrong, because I agreed with that, but I was most interested in help on how I could MAKE myself feel the right way. I had a lot to learn, and although I never confided in anyone, God was gracious enough to help me get through that anyway. However, I think that it was selfish for me not to seek out help based on the “what would others think” worry, and its good to see that she didn’t let that stop her like I did.

        All in all, I just think that the church does so much to get people in the doors, and that is great. Whenever we open the doors of the church and invite people to be saved, we tell them of Jesus’ love and assure them that they are accepted. We promise that we will be along with them for the ride and help them throughout the process of transforming their lives (and boy is it a process)! Then once they make that decision, we have very little patience with them, and ask them how God will see them on judgement day when they’ve done A B and C. Yes, we have the duty to admonish and correct, and it is our responsibility to show them when they are in error. But, it is also our responsibility to help them change, and I think that’s were a lot of people miss it. They stop at telling someone how wrong they are and what the consequences will be if they don’t stop, but what next? Where is the discipleship? That’s why I commented that I was praying for God to send someone in her life that can actually stand beside her and disciple her on how to handle this. I think that is what it ultimately takes. We may not be able to do the best job on discipling someone through a blog (although I think Shiela does a great job), but we can be direct, yet encouraging, and encourage them to seek someone who can disciple them. Maybe when responding we could ask ourselves, “If my daughter (or anyone we loved) was in trouble and asked someone for help, and that person only had a few words to say to them, what things would we hope those words would embody?” Personally, I’d want them to be clear, direct, and attention grabbing. I’d also want them to be encouraging to her and uplifting too. As a result of that encounter, I’d want her to eventually feel enlightened, yet encouraged. Maybe admonished, yet cared for. We all may differ on what we’d want for our loved ones, but I think if we’re truly living up to that for others, and it lines up with the word of God, then we’re doing well.

      • I feel like she has never been a MARRIED CHRISTIAN and maybe she’s doing what she thought was right. I know that I would be confused in the situation. By any means, its not right; however it is easier for US to look in on this as 3rd party and see what could happen. I think we should all practice a little GRACE when it comes to situations like this, especially for those to speak their minds about something they’ve never experienced themselves.

  2. Sheila, I just love the way you wrote this. Good points, great truth.
    I cannot believe devout Christian women could justify divorce by an “emotionally distant” husband! There are plenty emotionally distant Christian husbands around. Marriage is never easy and it sounds like “my husband has to become a believer” has become an idol for some ladies. Yes, the desire is good and even right, but the actions, actions….
    And what a wonderful example for the kids if a believing wife respects and cherishes her non-believing husband! It means she really has put her trust in God, not in her husband…
    Women live for relationships and the church family might be a great big family for her, but her most important human relationship is her husband.

    • People can and will rationalize most anything they want to do… even Christians. There’s been plenty of marriages between Christian people that broke up because “God wants more for me” or some variation on that theme.

      I would opine that part of the problem is Christians who have somehow gotten to thinking being “spiritual” and otherwise Christianized* is somehow a replacement for knowing God through His Word. We manage to delude ourselves into thinking that singing the songs and going to retreats is SO much better for our spiritual lives than learning and studying what God actually SAID. In this way we open ourselves to deception from the evil one. We start thinking (if not consciously, then subconsciously) that our relationship with God is a very fluid and dynamic thing and we are allowed to do certain things because “God wants this for me” and we’ve identified that still, small voice of God with our own sinful desires masquerading as the next step in our spiritual growth.

      In this way we believe a lie and destroy a marriage in direct contravention to God’s Word. All because we forget God was very direct on this point- we either don’t know what He said or we’re disobedient at our core and we think that such things somehow do not apply to us.

      * It is possible to go to church and do all kinds of other things without truly submitting to God. I would term this as being “Christianized.” We have the form of Christlikeness but none of the substance.

  3. HI Sheila and all the commentators here and LHV:

    I have read with great interest the posts from the reader who is married to an unbeliever and the comments. There is so much great advice and fascinating insights such as hearing from a man about he perceives the reader’s question. I am deeply moved as you know for women and men who are married to an unbelievers. It is my life’s ministry to encourage them as they walk out their faith in often times a very difficult situation.

    I would also like to share that it is very easy to judge a woman for her failures in this kind of marriage and point out exactly what she should do to make it better.

    Because I have walked unequally yoked for more than 20 years now, I truly understand the real challenges and the triumphs that are part of this life. Our hearts are in the right place to plead with Jesus for our spouses salvation but in our zealous love we can make many, many mistakes. I know this because I have made them all. I would like to share that until you have lived with an unbeliever for years you cannot conceive of the struggle and heartbreak that we contend with. So please be gentle with us.

    We are trying with every breath and prayer to love our husband’s with the love of Christ to bring our children up to know the Lord all the while knowing we receive little to no help from our brothers and sisters in Christ. We often face a home where our very core values are at war and in some years it takes the very power of heaven to survive the spiritual warfare and conflict.

    But I want to encourage every spiritually mismatched man and woman to know that you can live in joy and peace and with great love with your spouse. You can respect him and follow Jesus at the same time. There are many people who simply can’t understand what it’s truly like to walk this special journey. But, Jesus knows exactly where you are.

    Jesus will never fail you. Jesus will fill you up when you are lonely. Jesus will go to extraordinary measures to reach your husband and your children. Jesus will rise up and fight for you when you feel too weak.

    There is power in the name of our Redeemer. And He is all about redeeming, healing and bringing spiritually mismatched marriages under His authority. So my sweet sister who wrote this letter, you keep praying and trusting. Allow God to change you first and then sit on your front seat and watch what our Jesus will do in you, your spouse and your children..

    He will astonish you all.

    Sheila, thank you for allowing me to share and I hope this comment didn’t go too long. I love you girl. Thank you for serving the Kingdom and God’s Holy covenant of marriage. BIG hugs, Lynn Dononvan
    Lynn recently posted…Was Jesus a Democrat or Republican?My Profile

    • Thank you so much for the Godly insight. We really need to get outside of ourselves and expectations and take a real hard look at the condition of our heart! Thank you for using words to probe my heart today! God Bless You!
      Nicole Nolley recently posted…October….Anti-Bullying MonthMy Profile

    • Lynn, thank you so much for that encouragement to wives reading this! I pray that this will help a lot of people!

    • Wow, you hit the nail on the head! I grew up in a home like this (my mom is a believer, and my dad is not). Now, I’m married, and fortunately, my husband and I had a dramatic spiritual encounter at the same time which really transformed our lives for the Lord. Even though we were both Christians before, I CANNOT IMAGINE how it would be if only one of us would’ve gone deeper into our faith as we have now. Our spirituality is at the core of our very being. Every decision we make from the places we decide to go, to how we raise our children, to our money, all revolves around this one thing. Because of the blessing I’ve received in having an equally yoked marriage, I really feel for those who don’t. I by no means think that this is a death sentence for the marriage, I just acknowledge that it could be hard and maybe even lonely at times.
      I see many women like my mom have successful marriages even though they are not equally yoked. Most of them have taken the advice that many of the commenters gave (praying, trusting God, leading by example, etc., etc.), and as a result they have found peace and happiness. But unfortunately, everyone is not there yet, and I can understand why it would be a struggle getting there, and they definitely need our support.

    • Thank you Lynn….you just spelled out my life as well. I too have lived is a marriage full of strife and anger and sometimes more tears then I can remember. You post was and has been a blessing to me todsy, it is nice to hear there are others like me out there, knowing God told me to stay even when the WORLD says run away

    • Sheila and Lynn, I am huge fans of both of yours…bought your books and I am encouraged by you both so much! I became a Christian 4 years ago, and have been married for 17 years. My husband is not a believer, but through God’s grace, lots of prayer (and tears!) our marriage is better than either of us could have imagined. I know that God wants my husband’s salvation more than I do and simply manipulating and schemeing of ways to get him to church or church functions is not going to open his eyes and heart. I am trusting His Word, because only He can make this happen…my job is to love my husband in every sense of the word. Thank you for all of encouragement!

    • Thank you for your words of wisdom, Lynn. I was looking in my Bible and couldn’t find the part where Jesus smacked someone upside their head to get their attention…

      • I think Jesus used different responses at different times, and pretty much used the whole gamut! We often picture Him as just a peaceful person, saying things quietly, but He yelled at the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites and whitewashed tombs. He told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple courts. And yet He also was very gentle with Mary Magdalene, and with the woman caught in the act of adultery. So He used different approaches depending on what was called for. A great book about this would be Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew, where he talks about how modern Christianity has often made Jesus too “feminized”, and forgotten how blunt and harsh he was when the times demanded it.

  4. I’m just going to comment on a small part of this. I learned very early on in my marriage that comparing my husband to other husbands is one of the most damaging actions I can make in my marriage.

    There’s just no way for DH to win in this scenario. No matter what, someone’s husband somewhere is doing it better than my DH. No way can DH look best against an amalgum of everyone else’s husbands.

    And no glimpse from the outside shows the full picture of what is happening in a marriage – even the best ones. We’re all different, and every good quality tends to come with its “other side.” One husband buys lots of beautiful gifts … but works ALL THE TIME to pay for them. Another works out a lot and is in great physical shape … and he is impatient when exhaustion from caring for their kids makes her skip workouts. You don’t often find strong men who lead their homes cotowing to his wife’s every whim. My husband has some wonderful qualities, along with some “other sides” to those that I don’t love so much. My friends’ husbands don’t have those “other side” qualities, but they have the “other sides” to their own wonderful qualities. Since I don’t live with them, I don’t see those … just the wonderful ones my friends talk about!

    My one suggestion is to quit comparing your husband to other husbands. Comparing never ends well. Instead, focus on his wonderful qualities and pray that he’ll come to Christ where he can use those qualities to Christ’s glory.

    • Thank you for that, Laura. Well said!

    • Sara Skaggs says:

      Laura, you are so right. And you would not believe how this also applies to reading Romance Novels of men who are so perfect that men just can’t even compare. This also damages a marriage. And I believe it gives women fantasies that will never be true in their lives. Yes, dreaming like that can hurt you. Men likewise have their own venue of things they read, see or come in contact with that makes their wives less than perfect of what they see in the outside world. Watch less TV. Read less fictional books. Make your own love story at home with things you choose to do as a couple.

  5. I really enjoyed your response and shared it on facebook. However, I have to say I feel really badly for this woman who put herself out there and came to you for help and advice and ended up being blasted by the public through your site. Even if her name isn’t shared, she can still read the comments and feel all the judgment spewing out of them, and it saddens me. I think sometimes online avenues of communication make us forget that there is a real, feeling, person that Christ died for and loves on the other end.

    • Crystal, I know what you’re saying. This email came through a few weeks ago, and was longer. I replied to her quite a while ago. Then I took out all identifying characteristics (I always do) and tried to make it a generic one. That’s what I do with most reader questions: if someone is sending it to me, it means likely a lot of women are in this same situation, and so likely a lot of people have this question. And so I like to let other people have a go at it, because often people have unique perspectives that I don’t. In this particular case, for instance, I’m not married to a non-believer, so while I can have an opinion, I can’t understand in the same way. So it was a big encouragement to see so many comments from women who are in this situation giving some helpful thoughts.

      Yes, some people are going to react in anger to the question, and I can’t really help that unless I heavily delete comments. I only tend to delete those that are advocating things that are clearly not right (when people start arguing that God doesn’t really mind porn, for instance, I hit that delete button pretty quickly). But I do think we need to have room for debate.

      Do people get too harsh? Perhaps. But that may be one of the benefits of online conversations. Like I said on the other thread, I would have LOVED to have said Mark’s exact comment to two women who did leave their husbands. I know these two women, but because we know each other socially, we never say things that harshly. And so I didn’t (I also only learned of all of these issues after they had already kicked their husbands out).

      But when we do know someone in person, we’re often very reluctant to say, “you’re walking on dangerous ground.” We’re more likely to empathize. And that isn’t always as helpful.

      I think that’s one reason people turn to the internet: they want real answers.

      I felt the need to write a follow-up post on this one because the comments were so varied and heated on Saturday, and so I thought I should wrap it up nicely. I don’t usually do that.

      But I’m not sure how to prevent such things from happening except by either: not putting up certain questions; or heavily deleting comments. Neither of those options sounds positive, unless I want to become a blog where I really am the only voice, and I actually like having comments. But comments mean there will be some disagreements.

      I hope my readers understand and appreciate that; often I’M the target of the disagreements, too, not the readers (just look at the comments yelling at me on the Honey Boo Boo column!). Many authors don’t allow comments on their websites because they want to completely set the agenda. I’ve toyed with that, but I think that I’ve created a community here, and I don’t want to break that. At times that means that people may feel things have gone too far, as you have felt. But then they have the ability to comment back and say that, and to me that seems like a useful compromise. The only other option is to take comments out altogether, and I really don’t want to do that, especially since often my commenters say things better than I could!

      • I definitely see what you are saying, Shiela. I think you’ve made a well-thought out decision in how you moderate your comments, and you’ve stuck with it. I agree with what you’re saying about the online comments too, but I also see the other side of it. When we are giving advice to someone online, we tend to know less about their situation than someone we actually know in real life (not to say that we know everything in real life either; Im speaking relatively). As a result, we’re kind of giving advice based partly on our own interpretations of what is going on. We don’t really know that person’s heart, and what we do know, we’re judging it by a paragraph they’ve written. Sometimes we hit the nail on the head, and sometimes we don’t.
        Conversely, when we have the opportunity to give advice to someone that we know, in many circumstances, we’re more likely to do it out of love. In Paul’s letters to the churches, he really went in on them at times, but he LOVED them. He’d worshipped with them, he’d visited them, some of them had supported him, and he supported them. He wasn’t randomly commenting on people that he’d seen walking down the street; he was writing to people that he had a deep love for. God was able to use his words to help people that he would never meet, because the words originated in love and they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
        Some of us are able to love people we don’t know, and we all are supposed to do so. However, I believe that in many instances, love is lacking in online commenting. In some situations, it is not a big deal, but in others, it really requires a level of love and compassion to be able to accurately convey what we feel is God’s heart on the matter. God works through love, so if we have love towards a person, we are able to more accurately let the Holy Spirit speak through us.
        I truly feel that some of your commenters, regardless of what their opinions are, really have a heart to help people and that is why they comment. In those situations, those people are still commenting in love, even though they are strangers. But others comment just because they are angry at how that person is feeling. They wonder how a person could dare feel that way, and they can’t wait to give them a piece of their mind. Now there is godly anger, but that is not what I’m talking about. I’ve seen many commenters disagree completely with someone, be very straight-forward in expressing their disagreement, and still do it in love. I guess it is just our responsibility to check ourselves before we give advice.

        • Well said!

        • But others comment just because they are angry at how that person is feeling. They wonder how a person could dare feel that way, and they can’t wait to give them a piece of their mind.

          I’m assuming this part of the comment was specifically for me, so I’ll hazard a response.

          First, I didn’t “wonder how a person could feel that way.” I specifically stated that she is not in a position to question her husband’s spirituality because she doesn’t know what is going on inside his heart and soul.

          Nor is she in a position to compare her husband to the “strong Christian men” she sees in church because she doesn’t know what those men are like at home. Maybe they abuse their wives. Maybe they abuse their kids. Maybe they are emotionally withdrawn from their wives and just put on a good show every Sunday. SHE. DOESN’T. KNOW!

          Furthermore, if she continues to compare her husband to these men, and the husband finds out what she is doing, then she will DESTROY her husband! At that point you can forget about spiritual intimacy because the man won’t even bother going to church with her any more.

          Finally, I have no interest in “giving her a piece of my mind.” I do, however, believe she and other women could benefit from the male perspective every now and then. A perspective that is less clouded by feelings, less concerned with empathy, and more concerned with clarity and directness. I’m not very good at empathy, but I excel at “don’t be an idiot, you are about to destroy everything you hold near and dear.”

          Sometimes such a perspective is appreciated, sometimes it is not. I’m okay with that. :)

          • No, that wasn’t meant for you Mark. Here, I was really talking generally about many of the attitudes I see when people are giving advice online. I see it here and on other social media as well. I really don’t think you were trying to be hateful. I think where you and I disagree is on your assessment of the reader’s marriage. I simply don’t think that you had enough information to tell her that she was the biggest issue in her marriage among some of the other things you said. I’m completely fine with someone telling someone that they are the biggest issue in their marriage, if they really are. (I’m a woman, but I don’t mind bluntness). I just didn’t get that from the email like you did.
            I’ve used the example of my mom, and I’ll do it again. I could be wrong, but I just know that there HAD to be a time in her 40 year marriage where she may have compared my unbelieving dad to men who appeared to be stronger in their faith. I know it had to bother her at times, and now that I am an adult, she has kind of shared some things with me that tell me I’m right. But, you never would have known it. She always showed my dad so much respect and he was clearly the apple of her eye. Despite all of the things he did, she stuck by him. He adores her and she adores him, and they are still married today. She’s still believing for him to be saved, and so am I.
            So, I just don’t think that if a wife admits to having certain feelings it necessarily means that she is not being a loving Christian wife. We have to cast down those thoughts, but that doesn’t mean that those thoughts won’t come. If she would have said more to make me thinK that she was treating him badly, I’d probably be right with yOU. But like I said, before, I just didn’t get the same thing from the email that you did.

          • If she would have said more to make me thinK that she was treating him badly, I’d probably be right with yOU. But like I said, before, I just didn’t get the same thing from the email that you did.

            If she hadn’t stated her embarrassment with her husband and compared him to others I never would have commented in the first place! :) Those are two huge warning signs. If she feels that way toward him, then those feelings are likely being communicated in ways her husband can detect.

        • Kellie, thank you. You stated my heart as well, in a more eloquent manner :)
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    • I agree, Crystal! I wasn’t sure if it was me being “sensitive” or what. Your comment about the online communication is dead on. That’s why I’m praying that God puts someone in her path that really gets to know who she really is and has enough insight into her situation to really help.

      • And whenever I answer emails, this is ALWAYS what I tell women: find a mentor IN REAL LIFE! When you write an email, you can never include all the information, and when you try to answer an email, you never know the whole story. You just can’t. We all need people in real life who can pray with us and who can guide us.

        I love trying to give people advice and point them in the right direction. But I can never replace a REAL Christian mentor in people’s lives.

        • Very interesting post and comments from different perspectives. What would interest me is how the person whose marriage issues are being discussed, responds to and evaluates all the advice given. Would love if she would post a comment as to whose thoughts were most helpful and meaningful to her. I know that personally I would respond best to a heads-up, no beating around the bush, warning, unless I had already made up my mind how to act and simply wanted confirmation of my choice. – First time visitor here and married 46 years!

  6. 1 Peter 3…” Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
    7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” I think God’s word says it all…. they may be won without words if she is honoring her husband as she should.

    • The key word for me, Karen, is gentleness. And gentleness is really just the other side of grief for many women. They do grieve that relationship they could have had, but that grief can either soften you or harden you. I pray that for those reading this, the grief softens you so that you can love your husband!

  7. I have noticed that when I express appreciation and pride in my husband, and encourage him by building him up, he is very likely to respond to me in a good way; whereas if I nag, or look down on him, or speak negatively, he just becomes angry and defensive. So yes….attitude is everything!

  8. I love this blog :).
    I’m a Christian and my husband who grew up in a Catholic environment was an atheist when we met. He started reading the Bible and coming to church with me and had some pretty amazing sounding spiritual experiences and was a great lover of scripture and the word. He read It more than me…

    Two years on we’re married and he says he doesn’t believe in an religion anymore but he calls himself ‘spiritual’. I Find this really hard as we entered the marriage on a mutual spiritual understanding but I feel a bit like my world is shattering around me…

    • I am in the same situation. We are married for 6 years, and my husband is not going to church now , watching tv programs about aliens and other pseudo -scientific junk , which makes it very hard to continue guide the children in a healthy and godly direction.

  9. Sheila, sorry for such a long post on your Saturday post that you had to edit. Writing from my cell makes it difficult to see the length.
    And as for the case itself, I say it’s better to have comments as Mark’s than nothing which would awake this woman so she seees how close she is from falling from the cliff.
    If I had had someone saying these things to me probably I would have felt quite badly but surely my marriage wouldn’t be in the point where right now is.
    Would just anyone of you say with a smile on the face to your kids “don’t touch that electric socket” or would you yell and even a little smack on the “bottomm” so that the child will not suffer an electric shock?? If I ever yelled at my kids for that they always cried because of my words and yelling, but I saved them from electric shock. So here are my words.

  10. This was a fabulous post! I loved all of your suggestions! It fits so nicely with my current series on Living with an Unsaved Mate on my Marriage Monday feature that I wondered if you would consider linking up there. This is really good advice!
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  11. Hello I got the referral to this post from Lynn. I am so sorry I am just now getting over here to read. I will say that the comments are very “interesting” to say the least. I find it all too familiar how “Christians” start out judging. I think it was the first 2 or 3 responses that set the tone for all of the comments.
    The Omgoodness she compares her husband to other men that’s wrong! That’s coveting!!!!
    That really made me lol!
    While I’m not giving Mark a free pass, I appreciate his insight because he is a man and men tend to think in black and white! No gray…so he is giving an accurate male perspective. But I will say for most of the comments from you women I am ashamed.
    Your responses should be “man I wonder how that would feel” I wonder how I would smckntinue to stand firm if my husband refused to allow my kids to go to church? I wonder how it would hurt me if my son decided he didn’t want to believe in God because daddy doesn’t? I wonder what her struggle is like? I wonder how much it hurts her to drag her children to church on Sunday and see men there representing their families…and her children wonder why their dad isn’t there. Or how about when your child is bullied and you tell them how much Jesus loves them to give comfort and that’s torn down by a “there is no Jesus” comment. I could go on and on.
    The truth is the enemy plays on our weaknesses and just because this is not an issue for you doesn’t mean it you can so bodly judge. It’s easy for me to say as a Christian woman what I would do if my husband had an affair. Of course I would do what Jesus would and I think I’d not judge and pray…but until I’ve lived that nightmare I simply can’t say with certainty.
    Crystal thank you for standing up and speaking from a Godly place. And Sheila your post was dead on as far as what we woken in these relationships should do, thank you for posting.
    Just thought Id share my heart…I am living in the same exact situation as the lady who emailed. I love my husband to death but to say I never felt what she has would be a lie… blessed and let’s try to empathize every now and then. For those of you who are living in a spiritually mismatched marriage I have found much encouragement at
    With Christ’s love…

    • Keitha, I appreciate your comment and your perspective. You’re right; there is much that we don’t know about what it is to live with fear that your children won’t grow up Christian because your husband belittles your faith. There is much that many of us don’t understand.

      I think that what happened this weekend is that people read that comment through their own lenses. Many of us here read that comment, and what really jumped out at us was that she was questioning her marriage and flirting with leaving. That threw up so many red flags that people reacted to that.

      Others, who have been in the situation, thought of all the other issues: the kids, the fear, the loneliness.

      And so we were approaching it differently.

      I do think, though, that both approaches are valid. I don’t think we should ever give anybody an excuse to think about leaving their husband, and that does need to be dealt with quickly and forcefully, especially when children are involved.

      But we also need to be compassionate. I hope that the comments, in their totality, represented both viewpoints, because both are really necessary. I don’t want to be a blog which simply empathizes but doesn’t say the hard truth: sometimes marriage is really, really tough, but you made a commitment before God and you stick it out.

      But I also want to be a blog which encourages people in their walk. That is always a fine line!

    • Thanks, dear Kietha! You are a godly woman with courage and virtue. I applause your courage to share and speak up. I do live in the same conditions with unbeliever. I will check out that like. Praise God for internet , so we can support each other . Blessings to all!

  12. Sorry that should be :
    It would help of I could type:-)

  13. Sheila
    Let me apologize for my typos..I’m at work on my iPhone and I can’t seem to catch them all. But I really wanted to comment while I had the time.
    I agree with what you stated…we do need to be careful not to excuse irrational thoughts or flat out sin. However, isn’t that what her thought were? Irrational?!!! She was not in a good place and was allowing the enemy to plant things in her mind.
    Like I said before your post was dead on with the steps and how we should react…but those steps apply to ALL marriages! I think if we really want to help women and men struggling in this area we need to first let them know that “our” or “your” husbands are not perfect even though they may be saved! Let them know that your marriages encounter struggles similar to theirs and him being a Christian doesn’t or didn’t change that! That should be first and foremost….Right now what I saw in some of the comments were women enforcing the proper rules of traditional marriages but sometimes people feel their marriage is an exception. I was once lost in that cloud! I thought that my husband being saved would fix all of our problems. I needed Godly wisdom from loving women to tell me that many of these things are problems within ALL marriages.
    I needed to read encouragement from women like Lynn who said its ok to miss a Sunday or two to do what your husband would like. The church wasn’t telling me that! They were making me feel like less of a Christian if I couldn’t commit to being on a ministry or being there every Sunday. There was never a safe place! I would feel torn from the church, torn at home, until I really gave it to Jesus! Like Lynn stated…..He is that safe place! He will guide us. And believe it or not, women in my church told me I should leave my husband. Thank God, He grabbed hold of my spirit and instructed me on His own.

    • Oh, my goodness! People at CHURCH told you to leave your husband? Sigh. That’s why I think I get so defensive when people talk about leaving. It is WAY too prevalent, even among Christians. I’m glad that you stood firm and found a degree of peace!

  14. Sheila,

    I fully agree with what you wrote and the reader needs to remember scripture says her husband would be won by a quiet and gentle spirit. If she loves God and let’s God’s love work through her she will reach her husband. I have counseled many women with this same issue. It’s a matter of honoring the covenant they made and honoring God. Thank you for posting what you did.

  15. I know I’m late to the game on this one, but are there any posts or could you comment on when the husband and wife both start out as believers and the husband walks away? It’s a little bit of a different situation, I feel.

    • Oh, Sarah, that one hits so close to me because that’s what happened to my parents. I haven’t written about it yet, but I do know a blogger in this situation. I may ask her to write a guest post.

      • Sheila,
        I was just going to ask the same thing. My husband and I became Christians shortly after we married 31 years ago. We served in multiple capacities together in our church. I would say we were close, but we definitely had struggles. This past summer my husband moved out. Needed time and space. No other woman. Full blown Mid-Life Crisis. Long story, but a major motorcycle accident brought him back into the house (he is fine now), though we live in separate rooms and lead separate lives. He does not want me controlling or dictating his life. We do spend some good times together and are very civil. Have even been intimate a few times. He has never said he wants a divorce, he just doesn’t want to be married “the way we were”. He refuses counseling, but I am definitely going and learning a lot of what I have done wrong. I am learning to change deeply ingrained patterns and habits, just pray it is not too late.
        My emotions and feelings have run the gamut. I have begged God to let me leave, to break the ties, to remove myself from the heartache of seeing him daily. But I keep clearly hearing NO.
        Amazingly, he still goes to church with me most times, and is part of our small group (we’ve been in group for almost 3 years).
        I just struggle with how to deal with his sinful selfish behavior, his indifference and irresponsible choices. Mostly I just keep my mouth shut! Or try to! I would love to see this relationship salvaged, but I truly believe that only God will be able to bring that about. I have to remind myself of this daily and stop trying to “fix” everything.
        Thanks for letting me vent! I blog, but cannot share this personal story on it!
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    • I’m in that situation as well. I would so appreciate a post on this.

      …. Lisa

  16. van Rooinek says:

    why isn’t he getting anything out of church? Commenter Mark made a great point that many men DON’T get much out of church.

    This was addressed in a book, “The Church Impotent — the feminization of Christianity” (Leon Podles)
    read online for free:

    So when you’re married to an unbeliever because you became a Christian after your wedding

    My heart goes out to a woman in such a situation. Or a man. I’ve known both.

    However all too often the unequally yoked situation is a result of deliberate disbodience. Much more often it’s “saved” women marrying nonbelieving men, than the reverse. (A fact that used to drive me bonkers in my single days — “they’d rather date nonbelieving guys than me!” — but, let it go).

    It would seem that there would need to be FIRST a serious repentace for the sin of putting oneself in that situation willingly; this would need to be private before God, NOT involving a damaging, blathering out out “Honey I sinned by marrying you” — that dooms any relationship, I would think.

    And secondly, after that, all the same advice Sheila gives above, would hold true for that situation, I would think, since most of it isn’t dependent on HOW she got there… whether by disobedience, or postmarital conversion/reconversion, or, as another ‘late’ poster wrote, by postmarital falling away of the spouse.

  17. I haven’t read the original conversation but in this one, I couldn’t find daily Bible reading as a suggestion. No matter the ailment, learning to eat our daily spiritual bread is a major part of the solution. I was in the woman’s shoes, making similar mistakes. A good friend taught me how to find my answers from God not others or myself. I am no longer unequally yoked. I had to let go, let God, and love. I found how to do all those things from the living Word of God.

  18. I liked this article! I am in the same position as the woman!! And it is hard,because you want something different… and the something different is good,and holy. After so long you do get Satan making you feel like your husband is not good enough,and you feel like everyone is judging you in church. I feel like they are thinking the poor girl, her husband never comes! I do not like that feeling. Then i do get jealous because i see couples our age working with the jr church and i wish my husband would! It is rough,but i like how this article did not attack the husband,and to think of all the good things about him,and to not push him out! We are the Christians,we do need to act like it,and not judge our husbands and make them feel like we do not appreciate them. And remember the day you got married you made a choice!

  19. I know I’m late on this post- just found your blog this week and an so thankful!

    I spent most if my marriage in the same boat. High school sweethearts, both turned away from Christ in our teens and got married very young. After our first year of marriage, I pretty much had God slap me and i came running back to Him. Best day of my life :) my husband was very much aware that I returned to Him and became uncomfortable with it. I made new house rules that he approved of- no cursing, bad movies or music, ect ect. But when his friends would ask why the change in me he wouldn’t even allow me to answer them. We lived far from family due to him being in the military and that made it even harder. He was verbally and emotionally abusive and the military life didnt help. I was so desperate for him to feel Gods love like I did. I remember wanting to go to church and for months he would agree during the week but come Sunday he’d back out. He was away for a week of training and a man came to my door and asked if I was going to heaven. I said I think so and then quickly said yes ( trying to cover up my embarrassment) but the Holy Spirit in the man caught it. He asked why I said it that way and I ended up balling to this poor man about how I felt l was disobeying God by not going to church. But i felt wrong also if i left my husband and went. i felt like my husband was ashamed of me. This man encouraged me to come that week, weather or not hubby tagged along. I very nicely told hubby I was going and asked if he’d want to come. He actually went!! Not in a good mood but he went! As we were walking out, that same man saw me and introduced himself to my hubby. He was also in the military, but was older and had three beautiful kids. Then he said” so your wife said she’s been wanting to come to church but you didn’t want to bring her, what’s your problem?” Mortified and scared for my life, I thought oh thanks dude, he’s going to take me home and kill me now! At least that was the look in my face and they both saw it, haha. But God used this man to spark something in my husband. I think it was the fierceness of the Holy Spirit that my hubby saw, and he wanted that.

    It didn’t happen right away, nor was it at all an easy road. My husband did come to Christ about a year and a half later. That year and a half was the most heartbreaking and hurtful time I have ever experienced, but I knew God had it in His hands. Not that i was always the christian model, but i tried my best.Scripture tells us if the unbeliever wants to leave, you let them. But you don’t know when you sanctify them by staying committed while you choose to stay together. You must remind yourself that even if their not committed in marriage through Christ, you are. It was a commitment between you, your husband And Christ. Unless there’s a biblical reason for divorce, you stay and love them as Christ loves them. I can’t tell you how many spouses have come to Christ because they witnessed their spouse showing them Gods love when it wasn’t called for or even wanted.

    As for comparing them to other Godly men, that happens. Especially when you feel you need a godly man to lead you. But you have to train yourself to get out of that mindset. The grass is always greener somewhere else. But that’s not YOUR grass. That’s just as bad as your hubby comparing you to the thinner wives at church and thinking he might have made a mistake!

  20. I am so grateful for finding this site. I have been letting the Holy Spirit guide me in my marriage the best I can and always, in HIS timing, HE puts a book, a testimony or a blog post (like this one) in front of me for such a time as this. God is a good God and knows what HE is doing if we put our trust in HIM and ask HIM for Godly wisdom in a situation, like when a couple are unequally yoked. There are great resources on the internet and books to read on marriage from a Godly perspective. There is really no excuse to limit ourselves to just what is taught in your local church. There are many specialist out there on the net today that can help us. I know that God wanted me to find this site so I can continue to work on ME….the only one I can control in this situation. I know that I need to edify my husband more in his strengths and also pray for him thanking the Lord for the man he is today and believing that God is working to draw him closer to HIS Truth in HIS timing. My job is not to change my husband (that’s God’s job) … my job is keep working on me while respecting my husband, and while always keeping him in my prayers thanking the Lord for the work HE is doing in my husband’s life, even when I don’t see anything going on in the natural. My prayers always begin and end with thanksgiving for the man that God has given me … and not always just for the man HE created my husband to become. I believe if we keep a positive attitude, respecting our husbands where they are presently, while keeping our eyes on God’s promises in the Word for our families, we will know that God is @ work and we will see HIS will come to pass :-) Probably when HE is done changing me (LOL) … Blessings to all the ladies on this site!! In HIS love, Lisa

  21. I entered into an unequal yoke 25 years ago, knowing I was disobeying God’s Word in the process. I loved so many things about this man that I thought I could deal with this one difference. I continued to go to church on Sundays while he stayed home and worked on our finances. Once our children were born, things became a little more difficult. I wanted them to be more involved in the church and some of these activities conflicted with other plans. My husband basically agreed to let me raise the children spiritually, but asked me not to bring him down in their eyes, which I’ve made every effort to do. An unequal yoke affects everyone. The unsaved spouse may easily feel like they play 2nd fiddle and come to feel like their Christian spouse is almost cheating on them (God being the “other man”). I can attest that in trying to live a life of constant compromise, I never feel a lack of guilt over making decisions to either side. Our children and I live “church lives” of being essentially fatherless and a widow. Times are especially tough when I look around and see the majority of women sitting with their husbands and I am sitting with single women or by myself. I am very blessed to have a moral husband who is very tolerant of most of our differences. He is still the same intelligent, funny, caring man who attracted me 25 years ago. I try to do as many things as I can with him and pick and choose carefully the things I do apart from him. One sad note to end with: our daughter, who is saved, is entering into an unequal union in less than 6 months to a man I suspect won’t be so tolerant. Sometimes I wonder if I covered up the turmoil too much. :(

    • Dee, that’s so hard about your daughter! I’ve said a prayer for her, and for you that you won’t carry guilt and condemnation around with you about her. But I know it’s rough.

  22. I just want to say that I’m so happy you have kept the comments up on this post. I really appreciate hearing new perspectives!

  23. For those who would like to read the heart of the content without the protracted debate, I’ve edited and rearranged this content, and posted it to our church website resource area. (Giving credit and links, of course, to this page.)

    Thanks, Sheila, for posting this. It’s SUCH a common situation, and women need help in this! I appreciate your balanced, loving approach.

  24. I fully agree with what you wrote and the reader needs to remember scripture says her husband would be won by a quiet and gentle spirit. If she loves God and let’s God’s love work through her she will reach her husband. I have counseled many women with this same issue. It’s a matter of honoring the covenant they made and honoring God. Thank you for posting what you did.
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  25. Shelia, thank you so much for this post. I stepped into an unequally yoked marriage with eyes wide open. I knew I should not have married my husband but I was not walking with the Lord and he was not providing any saved men for me so I found my own. We have been married for 21 years. Recently as my relationship with the Lord has grown so has my involvement in my church. I never looked at it as I was the one who has changed but that he needs to change and see the Light. This was very eye opening for me.
    For most of our 21 years it has been hard for me to respect him so that reminder was helpful. We have no children so the walk is also very lonely. It has helped as I became more involved in my church however I did have to listen when he started to complain that I am at church too often during the week and had to give up some of my involvement to stay home.
    I do find that when I talk about the changes Christ has done in my he is more ready to listen then when I talk about what he needs to change. I also love your discussion on prayer as my prayers for him do focus on his salvation.
    Again thanks for this post,

  26. My husband says he is saved but allows my boys to have control of everything. I am a Christian but my boys are not saved.
    I am constantly trying to make a stand about TV shows, movies and music.
    I am known as a hypocrite to my family and feel as if they are right. My anger and frustration about these shows, movies and music allowed in the house gets the best of me and I end up going to my room to listen to my Christian music to calm down.
    I feel I am in a losing battle with my husband and boys.
    I have tried counciling but they went once and said it was a waste of time.
    Anger and violence are part of our everyday lives.
    There is no peace when my husband comes home.
    He is a Full-time medic and I am a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling my youngest ADHD son.
    What should I do?

  27. I have been a Christian since I was a teenager but married and unbeliever. We have been married 9 years and our whole marriage I go to church and take the kids. Sometimes my husband would come and would always have a negative comment. But after 13 years of praying for his heart and mind to be opened he decided he was ready to go to church on a regular basis. It is a very slow process but God will work in your husbands life if you have faith and pray pray pray. Patience and trust. I thought it would never happen but I kind of look at it like…it is my responsibility to make sure this man dies a saved man. just like you feel that for your kids. Pray! Have faith!

  28. Elsie Bouwman says:

    “..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,(Romans 3: 23) “For when we were still without strength, in due time . Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 6-8)
    His own love toward us while we were yet sinners is the love that the unsaved spouse can and will experience as you yield yourself to God’s love, and demonstrate His love toward your unsaved spouse. Remembering always: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

  29. When my husband & I were first married,we both attended church,we both were raised in church,we both were morally decent people & we occasionally even prayed together. Around the end of our 1st yr, the church that we attended (his family’s church) split up & a lot of hurt feelings & angry words lingered in the family for quite some time after. My husband stopped going to church with me & I continued on at that church for another yr &1/2. Then,realizing he was not planning to ever go back, after much prayer & after asking my husband what he thought about it (his response was to tell me to do whatever I felt like I needed to do) I left his family’s church & went where I felt God leading me, where I could grow spiritually,have good teaching & have huge support from a wonderful church family. He would come to church with me for Christmas & Easter services & that was about it. He never tried to keep me from going, but he certainly wasn’t interested. This has continued until this day 14yrs, 1misscarriage & 1child, many struggles/heartaches later. We’ve also had wonderful times, when I knew for sure God was smiling down on our little family:) I’m not going to lie & say I never got frustrated, or that I havent looked around at the men in my church or in my family & wish my husband could have been more spiritually minded. I’m not going to say that there haven’t been times it felt like we were living 2 dif lives with dif goals/priorities, or that I haven’t been frustrated at having to b the spiritual leader of my home. But I will say our home is peaceful. I will say we love each other more today than we did when we were 1st married. We still share good times & bad. My 4yr old daughter & I pray often & when he’s around he has occasionally prayed with us. I recently began to read a chapter from the Bible out loud again every evening, to which he sits & listens to now where before he never would. I praise God when I see these signs of God working in his life. As someone who’s been “unequally yoked” for about 13 &1/2 yrs now I feel like I can offer some good advice to those that find themselves in the same situation. Here’s just a few of the most important things you should keep in mind if your married to an unbeliever:
    #1 is to focus on YOUR relationship with God, not theirs. Pray to have the right attitude in your marriage whether they do or not. Study in the Word what God says YOUR responsibility is. You cannot be who God wants you to be in your marriage or in any aspect of your life, without spending time with Him & asking Him to help you. #2 Be willing to be a peace maker in your home. Probably 98% of the things couples complain/argue about in the end doesn’t really matter. When your upset things get said/done that totally blow your testimony to your spouse. I’m not saying avoid talking through issues, just that you should spend as much prayer time as possible before entering into a discussion you know could become heated. #3 Dont compare your life/ marriage/possessions/etc.We are all called as Christians to be content & to not get caught up in all the if only’s/what if’s/why can’t they/etc. The only person/circumstance that you can control is yourself & how you react to the things around you. Make sure your treasure is in heaven & that your focus is on Jesus & everything else will fall into place. #4 Release responsibility for your spouse’s soul. You should absolutely pray for your spouse & for the Spirit to draw them & be an example & do all you can to keep Christ in your home. But ultimately, the choice is theirs. If you’re focussing on your relationship with God, then your going to get more right than wrong. But the enemy will tell you they will never be truly saved bc you’re not doing your part. This is a lie. The only One that can save your spouse is Jesus Christ & He’s already paid the price for it, but we have free will & each have to accept Him ourselves.

  30. Christianalone says:

    We were Christians together for over 20 years of our marriage, and last September he told me he no longer believes. Now I’m struggling to accept the new reality. I am loving and serving him as Christ wants us to as Christians and at the same time I am grieving this tremendous loss and raising our children as Christians on my own, PRAYING they will always believe in and love and serve God. Any other wives in this position? Please share your stories and encouragement. I need them. Thank you!!!

    • my situations a little different I became a Christian later on in the marriage And my husband is still not saved,
      I blame myself for my husband and my kids not wanting anything to do with Christians or the church or the Bible because I claim to be a Christian and my attitude and my actions showed something totally different and no I have come to realize that I need to be more like Christ in my attitude and my actions.
      Because of this mistake my kids and my husband are still lost.
      I battle daily with my anger and I frequently have to ask for forgiveness but others have seen a small growth and me.
      My boys are now teenagers and they have not going to church most of their life every once in a while one or two of them will go with me I have three boys but not very often.

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  1. […] may be married to an unbeliever and in that case you have a greater challenge. Without the common bond of Christ, it will be […]

  2. […] Also, if your husband is not a Christian at all, I have some thoughts here. […]

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