Can Unequally Yoked Marriages Be Successful?

Image credit: Pixabay.com
Image credit: Pixabay.com

Many women in unequally yoked marriage relationships mistakenly believe that their marriage can never be successful or satisfying. They think that because they disagree on the necessity or level of religious commitment, they will be unable to agree on anything else. However, that is a defeatist attitude.

Spirituality is an important part of marriage, but there are many other things that go into making up a full, vital marriage relationship. Remembering the full circle of marriage is a real challenge; it does not happen by accident.

When I first got saved, Christ, the Bible, the church, and spiritual aspects of life were the only things I thought about. I just became this big spiritual person. I forgot about the rest of my marriage. I kept thinking, “My husband and I really don’t have anything in common. I love the Lord, and he loves the world.”

When he talked about going out and doing something recreational, I didn’t want to go with him. I couldn’t imagine him going anyplace that I would want to go. All of the people that we used to call friends were unsaved, so I didn’t want to be around them anymore. Why would a spouse want to change if the only examples of spirituality were from a wife who was no longer fun to be with?

In addition to the spiritual dimension of marriage, there are also parental, financial, relational, psychological, volitional (which is your will), emotional, physical, recreational, and vocational aspects of the marriage relationship, as well.

Unfortunately, I was stuck on religion and didn’t have time for anything else. I just kept thinking, “If my husband isn’t saved, then the marriage cannot work. If my husband isn’t saved, how can we go out and have fun? What kind of relationship could we have? I don’t know if I should tithe or not tithe. What should I do with my money? Should I ask him for money from his check?” For me, the marriage relationship was almost in a cloud. If it didn’t say religion in front of it or if I couldn’t find a verse for it, then it wasn’t relevant.

When I started to identify basic marriage problems as yoke problems, I also discovered that my problems had more to do with my negative attitude and my approach toward my husband than with his relationship (or lack of relationship) with Christ. The Lord began to deal with me and show me how self-righteous I had become. Then I was able to go back and try to approach my husband again, to ask for forgiveness in certain areas, to try to rebuild our relationship, and to rediscover the other areas of our marriage that did work.

…There is a lot more to marriage than just the religious aspect. you don’t want to get stuck in one place thinking, “Because my husband isn’t saved, nothing else matters.” You can develop intimacy and togetherness in other areas. There are other things that you can do. Remember the full circle of marriage and see where you can expand your relationship. Ask yourself, “What happened to these other areas of my marriage? Do I need to go back and work on some things?”

…It is indeed a high calling to be in an unequally yoked marriage relationship. Not everyone can handle it. Some women say, “when we got married, I didn’t know any better; we weren’t saved.”

To counter this attitude, I often encourage clients to spend more time looking at the things they saw in their husband when they first met him. Take time to remember what attracted you to him in the first place. There was a reason why you got married.

Some people were married because there was a child involved. Maybe you wanted your child to have a father in the home. Even if that was your only reason, many of the characteristics it takes to be a good father are similar to those needed to become a good husband. But now that you have him, regardless of why you have him, you can learn to love and honor him.

When my husband asks me, “Would you marry me again?” the answer is an emphatic “Yes!” I really would. I love the man. I have learned to look beyond his faults the way God looks beyond mine. I have learned to look past all the little things —like picking up clothes (even though he picks up after me). It is those little things that become annoying when they occur on a regular basis and make you think, “Will I ever get through this?”

Instead, I ask God to help me see all that my husband will become. I plan to hang in here until the end, and he knows that. I believe in marriage until death do us part. The key is not to kill each other in the process.

The above article comes from the book, Can Two Walk Together? Encouragement for Spiritually Unbalanced Marriages written by Sabrina D. Black, published by Lift Every Voice. This is a wonderful tool to provide those in unequally yoked relationships with hope and help in dealing with disappointment, hurts, and heartaches. Sabrina Black brings her counseling expertise to bear on this difficult subject, assisting couples with creating and maintaining a vibrant, growing relationship despite their differences. She also has a web site at Sabrinablack.com.

-ALSO-

To help you further with this issue, please click onto the web site links provided below to read:

MARRIED TO AN UNBELIEVING SPOUSE: Shine Your Light

MARRIED TO AN UNBELIEVER

RENEWING MY MARRIAGE

If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

FacebookLinkedInTwitterPinterestStumbleUpon

Filed under: Spiritual Matters

Join the Discussion

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.

Comments

75 responses to “Can Unequally Yoked Marriages Be Successful?

  1. (NIGERIA) Beautiful! I couldn’t have read a more encouraging piece! Thank you, may God continue to keep us until the day our husbands get saved!

  2. (SE) Interesting stuff on the internet… Anyhow, as one of those unbeliever i just would like to point out; No we are not aliens. Nor do we worship Satan or other dark entities.

    Atheism/agnosticism/unbelief is, quite, simply, the exclusion of one more god (in the same manner as you show a disbelief in Allah, Zeus or Odin). Nothing more, nothing less. So in short, if you understands this simple fact, there are no problems with living with an unbeliever. Most of us (i cannot speak for everyone) are quite tolerant to superstition and belief sets involving deity’s and have no real problem with having a religious spouse as long said spouse keeps it to him/herself and have a low profile about it. Another important thing to keep in mind is that for unbelievers the biblical stories could be likened to arabian nights, the harry potter book suite, or for that matter any arbitrary fantasy story. We like to read fantasy story as much as the next man. But most of us wouldn’t rearrange our lives around those stories.

    In the same manner as you would find it tough to deal with a man/ woman actively trying to sell the concept of a magic teapot that governs your life and deems your worthy for eternal bliss in teapot heaven or coffee hell we find it irritating in the long run, even though we still respect your right to have those views. In short, there is nothig odd about living with an unbeliever, just keep it lowkey and it will solve itself. After all, there are more important things lin life! live long, and prosper as the vulcans say!

    1. (USA) This is a site for Christians dealing with Marital problems and some are very painful. I have to wonder why you stopped here and posted that.

      I was a bit of everything before Christ removed my blinders. I do know an Atheist is not a Satan worshipper, at least doesn’t mean to be, but since God says there are only two spirits at work, if you are denying the Creator you have given the devil all you have. Indirectly, you are worshipping him and he really doesn’t need to be worshipped to do what he does which is lead people away from the Truth.

      God does not want believers with unbelievers for very specific reasons. Since you are still alive, it’s not too late for you. Confess Christ and see what happens. If you really don’t believe, what do you have to lose?

  3. (UNITED STATES) My relationship with my husband to begin with started with a lot of lies and games and I tolerated a lot of nonsense. Now we are married and have a son together and my husband of all people was the one to get me to go back to church. We both got saved but now I’m the only one actually going to church (not including our son). Now I don’t know what to think anymore especially when the whole idea of if God created your marriage it’ll last. If you did it won’t. Now I wonder how can a relationship put together by man be turned over/started over by God?

  4. (USA) I started dating an unbeliever at a rough time in my life. I was getting a divorce and had fallen away from the Lord. I got pregnant right away and we lived together for a few years before we got married. I cried and felt condemned for living in sin.

    Now that we are married and I am back walking with The Lord. I struggle with living with a man who loves the world and is in bondage to alcohol. I pray for him and he does go to church with me but he struggles with his faith. Now that I am walking with the Lord again. I worry that our marriage is not valid in God’s eyes because I divorced my first husband. I know that the Bible says you can get divorced if there is adultery or your unbelieving husband leaves you. My first husband claimed to be saved but he was not walking the walk. He lied to me so many times that I lost all trust in him. The last straw is when he took our rent money and went to a strip club on top of calling sex lines.

    I’m not sure if he cheated but my question is, is this means for divorce in God’s eyes and am I truly married to my second husband in God’s eyes?

  5. Hello, I have a lot on my heart on this issue, so I decided to write, hoping someone will have some wisdom for me. I grew up in the church, was baptized (which all it meant was I took the classes and had my head dipped in water). I’ve struggled with loneliness for most of my life, and got engaged to a “church going” man. Things were really rough between the two of us, which led me to to seek out God and understand what true salvation was (so I thought). I realized that he wasn’t “saved” so I broke off the engagement. And what do you know? He came to Christ, married a wonderful woman, and I on the other hand fell off the bandwagon and have wondered since about salvation because laying down my rights. Everyday is just too hard. Asking God for help is just too hard. The whole Christianity mess put me in a depressed, saddened state.

    I started dating this other guy, who is much more compatible with me than my ex. He has a great sense of character, and I enjoy being with him. We share similar thoughts on finances, children, humor, love, and even confusion from Christianity. The difference is I always feel a tug to seek a relationship with God, whereas he… well, he’s a bit more of a “let’s all get along… each religion has a great lesson to learn” type. I would rather be married than deal with this loneliness anymore, but I keep hearing from others that you must be married to a believer. Really?

    1. Jane, Here I am just surfing the net after falling into temptation and struggling and I was looking for hope. I didn’t realize that I would be giving hope to someone. But I read your story and I want to say an emphatic NO! Do NOT start a relationship with a non-Christian, it will bring you pain; I speak from experience.

      I was in a relationship with a girl for 4 years (on and off) and there were ups and downs. The relationship ended this year, she ended it! It was/is sooo painful to deal with this. But God is my healer and my great physician. He will restore unto me the joy of salvation and I will be lifted out of this pain and sorrow. I believe this will happen. I believe it was God’s will this ended because there was NO way I was going to marry her if she was anti-Jesus. No way! Because of that HUGE reason, the relationship was in limbo and she knew it and I knew it.

      I told her I had to separate myself from her for her to seek God and really find the meaning of life. She didn’t do it. And through all the back and forth, the relationship ended, quite suddenly in fact. I don’t know what she’s doing now. I’m currently not dating/courting any girl, and it’s so hard to be alone like this. But my relationship with God is more focused and He is truly #1 and will remain that way as long as I live.

      Do not compromise your faith in God, it will cause heartache in the future. Your relationship with God will be distant and unclear. I am testimony to that. I tried to make it work with her, but this is something out of my hands. Only God can change the heart, until then, you better flee! You can be a witness to this person, but do not start a relationship or get physical/emotional in any with him. This is a very strong warning. Please read His word, pray, and obey Him. ~Stanley

      1. I’m sure you might read this and think this is just like the post many other ladies have put up, but I feel like I need someone to listen to my specific case.

        I was born into Christianity and always followed the rules because that’s what everyone told me to do. I got baptized and was involved in many ministries. As I got older, I started to doubt the bible and everything it said. I started to ask questions, for which no one really seemed to have answers besides “because the bible says so” and soon enough, that just wasn’t good enough for me. Nonetheless, I felt the pressure of meeting up to everyone’s expectations and just played the good church girl role.

        Finally, I moved away from my hometown, in order to feel free to make my own decisions and decide what I wanted for my life. I still found myself finding and attending a church because I feel comfortable with that. It’s what I’ve grown up doing, so I mainly like it for learning positive teachings (even if I don’t whole-heartedly accept every little thing from doctrine), it gives me opportunities to help others, and I enjoy the sense of community by attending church.

        While living abroad, I found my wonderful boyfriend. He is agnostic. He basically can’t believe in the Bible because there is no 100% provable proof that it really is the word of God, and so it must be followed to make it to heaven one day. I am a very logical person, and this is why I started to have my own doubts like these years ago! However, I know that I could never completely give up going to church because it’s become a part of what I do.

        My boyfriend and I have become very serious. We traveled together for several months and I learned we have amazing communication between us both, we have the utmost respect for each other, we learn from each other, we encourage each other, we love each other so much and I really can’t say anything negative about my relationship with him. Even when we do disagree, we reason with each other, we share our feelings and resolve any problem as a loving couple.

        I’m now back in Canada because I will be starting my Masters and we plan to finally live together at some point. We’re not engaged or anything, but we love each other for who we are and understand that we do not NEED each other, but that we want to continue to be together and face the world together.

        His being a non-belief hasn’t really posed an issue because we both respect each other and we’ve talked about if in the future, we ever had kids, he would support me and would be fine with going to church, but he would also wish to continue to be respected for his own beliefs (or lack of). This is only a concern for me because I will finally be introducing him to my parents in person, who are hard-core christians… I’m scared this might break my mother’s heart and hurt our relationship. It really is unfair – he’s lived a rough life, and yet still he’s managed to still grow up to become a sweet, noble and strong man… yet my mother will probably overlook all this just because he just can’t easily accept something he’s never known and for which he has never found proof.

        Is there anyone that has been through this already? Is there a way I could make my mother understand that there are some amazingly lovely people out there, without being born again christians? I can’t see the wrong in this…

        1. Sarah, I see a few things that you clearly state in your writing that

          1. You were raised in Church but you don’t believe it whole heartedly but can’t give it up.

          2. That you are dating a man who doesn’t believe in Christianity or possibly any other religion and

          3. That your parents are hardcore Christians and because of them you are afraid of disappointing them.

          The obvious is that you are not a Christian yourself and you are afraid of not only the fact that the man you are dating isn’t saved but exposing yourself as a none believer. It says in the Bible that you cannot serve two masters you will either hate one and love the other. It also says that Jesus would rather you be hot or cold than luke warm so, while you propose all of these problems, the main issue is obvious… 1. Why do you attend church and you have to come to a point in your life where you must decide what you are going to do?

          How will you be able to teach your children about God if you don’t believe it because later on down the line they are going to realize that you don’t really practice what you preach, so in essence is that going to bread complacency in them, to where they don’t see it as important. I can tell you as being a mother on my own, regardless of what my children decide to do in their lives when they get older, I will always love them. I would prefer for them to come to Christ and understand that the relationship is genuine but I also want them to understand that Christ says to treat others as you want to be treated and that goes for them. If they do wrong I will always be there to correct them, or give them food for thought, but my love for them will not dissipate because they choose a different path. I have a brother who chose to become a Muslim and I don’t love him any less.

          My point in saying all this is that your mother and father will most likely won’t love you any less but they will tell you the truth concerning the scriptures but ultimately they can’t make that decision for you. I think that you need to have someone on one time with God and be openly honest with him because it’s by doing this that he can and will work with you. Too many times we hide our true selves from God. Explain to God how you feel and be real with him about your beliefs and let him know where you are. If you are interested in knowing the truth about him and need more like Thomas did in the scriptures let him know. He says in his word that if you seek him with your whole heart you will find him. He is not willing to let anyone Perish.

          So be honest with him about where you are and watch how he works wonders. I know I have been honest with him and myself about things I really was ashamed of but I’d rather tell him the truth than live a lie or be in a lie. It’s during those times that God has been able to reroute me and work with me the most. God is not man. His ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts, so don’t hurt yourself anymore than you already have. He loves you and he understands your plight and he would be willing to work with you if only you were honest with him about everything.

          Be honest with your parents too and the man you love because later on down the line that’s what’s going to count.

  6. I am unequally yoked to my husband of 25 years who over the past three years has been involved with the messianic movement. He will not celebrate Christmas or Easter, and looks on the “church’ as having lied to him all these years. He follows a Rabbi who he goes to for advice on daily things. This has put a huge strain on our marriage. I love my church and cannot support my husband in his quest to be “Torah observant.” He says we are still under the law. Feeling very lonely and sad for him.

  7. I found this page after I concluded that my husband is not a believer 2 days ago. For me, marrying a non-Christian was never an option from the beginning. I met my husband who claims to be a Christian and now, after 28 years of marriage it is clear to me that he isn’t.

    When I read the posts, I think one thing we need to stop is expecting spiritual maturity from our non believing spouse. I struggled for years because I failed to understand how a Christian can behave or act in such a good worldly manner. I felt hurt and disappointed. Today I realized that I’m expecting something from someone who doesn’t have it in the first place. How can we expect spiritual attitudes from someone who doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ? While it will be a great joy to see them come to God and love our Savior, putting up such unrealistic expectations will only strain the relationship more.

    I knew something was not right with our relationship. While seeking God’s guidance, the first thing I did was find a job after staying home for 20 years. I read on this topic, surround myself with strong Christians. Of course I went through the fire from doubting, to self-accusation, to hating my husband, fought with God, debated with my church leaders, all sorts of things. I was happy that my husband lived away from home for 5 years because I thought I could stay married but not have the need to see him or to deal with his irrational ideas.

    When God sent him home one fine day, I resisted so much. I fell back to relying on sleep medication. Today I’m seeing him with the eyes of a lost person without Christ. That is why he thinks the way he thinks, says the things he say. My job is not to criticize him. My job is to pray for him and treat him as I would treat anyone in accordance to biblical principle. I hope there is an end to this suffering someday. Yet I would very much like to practice what I learn from all of you today that we partner with Christ in this journey. After all God is sovereign and our path given by Him is all for His glory.

    1. Wow, Meagan, thank you for sharing this insight. I sense God has been talking deeply to your heart and you have been listening. It doesn’t make any of this easy for you to go through, but the confusion is no longer hanging over all that your husband says and does, which is contrary to God’s ways. I pray the Lord helps you to give mercy when it is needed, help when it is needed, insight and discernment when it is needed, and extra doses of love to give, as God would give you. I also pray that God will give you amazing times of blessings as you lean into Him while you show love to your husband “as unto the Lord.” Thank you for reaching out to help others, as God has helped you to see these matters more clearly.

    2. Hello Megan, Thank you for sharing your story, sounds like mine. I’m sorry it took you so long to realize. I can imagine the suffering you went through. It took me 4 years to admit it to myself that the problem in our relationship was that my husband doesn’t know Christ at all although he professes to be a Christian.

      He lately found a job that has taken him away from home. This is supposed to be for 5 years… returning from time time… God has been working in me deeply and wonderfully. I’m trusting God that when my husband comes back it will be to a completely transformed wife and that the Lord would have brought him to salvation.

      In the meantime I love my husband as he is. My heart and attitudes toward him have changed so much as God has brought me to totally rely on His Grace in Christ Jesus, not dealing with guilt anymore, thanking Him that He works all things for our good. The Lord has brought me to a place of rest in my faith. God is good, He loves us. He is able, he will do the rest. Let’s trust Him, let’s believe the Gospel. In Christ, we have all our blessings.

      1. Hi Anne, hi Cindy, Thank you for the encouragement. It’s only been a month or so since I posted the comment. I must say I feel better letting go of some of ‘my’ standards. Yes indeed, we can’t do it on our own we need to rely on the Lord like Anne said.

        For me, I am simply submitting to the authority of the WORD. We can trust that by doing so, Romans 12:2 will testify to us that it’s true. I also would like to encourage everyone who reads these posts that we do not need to despair. We have a loving Father who cares very deeply about us. Even in difficult situations He has a profound plan. Some of the famous Bible characters did not have perfectly yoked marriages. Yet the Lord used them mightily. We can trust that through our situations, good will come. We can be comforted that in the presence of Jesus we will be transformed from glory to glory… None of our tears goes to waste. Praise God.

  8. It’s hard for me to read these comments and wanting to share something I’ve been unwilling to share the past two years I am in a Unyoked relationship. It didn’t begin like this he went to church with me. And prayed. But a friend of his died and he’s drifted away from the idea of Christianity and it hurts to think about it. His dad has drifted to atheism (it was a plane crash and my boyfriend was there for it.. Pretty dramatic to him). As this relationship progresses I’m taking caution but Id love for him to change his life around. He has been a blessing the last two years for me and Im lucky to have someone like him who cares for me. He is a wonderful man and all these stories have Ben inspiring to read. I mean he has his flaws and he knows I’m a strong Christian and my beliefs won’t be compromised and i don’t want to ask him to believe what I think to continue the relationship. I Plan to continue this relationship because I’m willing to work to save him I feel like it’s where I need to be And who I need to be with.

    1. Ashley, Dear one, please walk away. My husband was a young but committed Christian when we married 34 years ago but a church-split tore out his shallow roots and I have been a lonely Christian ever since. He is a good man who loves me and loves our four children. But I deeply miss what this should have been.

      You can’t “work to save him”. Otherwise all of the people in the posts above wouldn’t be posting and neither would I. He is not who you should be with. This is not a judgment on my part. It is what the Bible says. It is God’s job to save him and your job to obey God. If you truly love Jesus, please walk away. Obedience is better than sacrifice.

    2. Dear Ashley, This may encourage you: 1 Peter 3:1 — “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.” Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says that by your behaviour you may win over your husband. Surely that must provide some hope!

      Ok, so you are not married, but it sounds as though you would like to marry your boyfriend. I am also assuming you haven’t been married before/ have not divorced/been divorced by your husband on grounds of unfaithfulness.

      If you are assured that your boyfriend will not prevent you from following Jesus and that he wants to continue the relationship, you’re doing nothing wrong. But do exercise caution. Everyone on this site has not understood the meaning of 2 Cor 6:14 – it is not referring to marriage. If you would like me to explain, I will, but it is a bit lengthy and I wanted to send this message quickly.

  9. Hi, I’m 32 years old, Sri Lankan and a born again Christian. 10 years before while I was studying in the university an unbeliever proposed to me and I refused. But this guy was continuing to follow me to church. Still I didn’t agreed to his proposal. After completing the degree this guy and I had our friendship.

    In 2013 he moved to new Zealand and still continued to propose for the marriage and ultimately we got registered in 2014. I moved to NZ in mid July 2014 and we both didn’t have any physical relationship. While I was in NZ we both had arguments and developed bitter feelings. Meanwhile my mother got a stroke and I had to go back to Sri Lanka to take care of her. Now she is a bed ridden patient.

    I’m very worried and upset whether due to my marriage only my mother had gotten ill; very disturbed and frustrated. Still I’m a virgin. Our registration is all about paper but not any physical contact. I’m wondering can I get separated or get divorced. Please pray for me. I do not know what to do.

  10. Thank you so very much for this article!! I needed this today. I felt alone in this path I am walking and am so encouraged to know there are others. I would love to get in contact with someone who knows this path. My husband and I have a wonderful marriage, however, I am praying faithfully for his salvation. Thank you for the challenge and encouragement to be a light for Jesus.

    1. Serena, I’m so glad God led you to this article. There are more articles, quotes, and testimonies in the “Spiritual Matters” topic concerning this issue that I hope you will glean through and read. Also, if you go into the “Recommended Resources and Links” part of that topic you will see links to a couple of ministries that you may find helpful (Rejoice Ministries and Unequal Marriage), perhaps even contacting someone concerning walking this very difficult path. I also came across the following article that may inspire you in some way: http://deeperstory.com/unequally-yoked/. I hope you find encouragement in this to keep keeping on and to not give in to feeling like things are hopeless, despite the fact that we serve a God of Hope. I pray He gives you an extra portion of it as you look to the Lord to be your husband in the areas that your earthly husband just isn’t able to right now… oh, how we pray that someday he will, though.

      Please know that my heart goes out to you and my prayers go out for you. I pray the Lord helps you, guides you, speaks to you, and works in and through you in this situation. I also pray God infuses hope into your heart that you will experience days ahead with your husband, in the Lord, that will bring a smile to your heart. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

  11. I need prayer for our marriage. Husband looked in my eyes and lied about fishing trip out of state. Told me he was going fishing with his son only. Turns out many Inlaws were invited. Gone 8 days. When he came home after 2 days he told me he felt guilty (not sorry). Did the same thing one year ago.