The following are quotes from various resources that we pray will help you in your relationship with your Unbelieving Spouse.
• If an unequally yoked wife is wise, she will take advantage of her domestic setting and use it as a womb in which the Lord can woo and win her husband into birth in God’s kingdom. She can use their home and her God-given position as a wife to counterbalance the worldliness that predominates her husband’s life. She must be open to the wonder of their love. She must devote herself to him, the same as she would if he were the greatest Christian who ever lived. She needs to learn to separate her personal reactions to what her husband does from the actual agitation of the Holy Spirit. And above all, she must do everything within her power to be the kind of helper, friend, and counselor to her unbelieving husband that God meant her to be. (Jo Berry, Beloved Unbeliever)
• Nobody was ever nagged into the kingdom of God. Nobody was ever manipulated into the kingdom of God. We come to Christ because we’re shown grace, we’re shown love, and we’re shown mercy. If our spouse is on the receiving end of criticism and manipulation —they’re going to run. The harder we try, the faster they run. If I were coaching somebody, I’d say, “Stop, because God knows what He’s doing.” I didn’t come to Christ until I was 23. Somebody else might not come to Christ until they’re 33, 83, 93, or 103. It’s all in God’s timing. He has a plan, and He knows how He’s going to work it out, and He will use us. He doesn’t need us, and that’s a freeing truth —that God can run the universe without me.
I’m a newspaper reporter. My beat is religion, and I’ve written the Christian testimonies of well over 400 people. When I do a story of a man who has come to faith in Christ after his wife, I always ask, “What was it about your wife? What did she do? What did she say to help you come to faith?” Every single man that I’ve talked to says the same thing, “It’s not what she said, frankly, I tuned her out; but it’s how she loved me. She just loved me. Even when I was cruel, she loved me.” So what I would say is love your spouse into the kingdom and let God deal with him or her. (Nancy Kennedy, Family Life Today radio broadcast aired 06/04/03, titled, “What I Did Wrong,”)
• An area of battle is coping with the daily changes that occur within yourself, and how that interacts with your mate. As a “child of light,” you begin to see life differently through God’s filter. Things of the world no longer satisfy, excite, or challenge you. Your sights are set higher. Part of that is reflected in your relationship as a wife [husband] friend and lover. There unfortunately are things that you begin to dislike about him [her]. We are to “love the sinner, but hate the sin.”
There were times I had to pray, “Lord, give me a desire for my husband … help me to love him with Your love, because I don’t like him very much right now.” Remember, you have to “take every thought captive, unto the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Give it to God and then you will have peace. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him [her] in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he [she] trusts in You.” “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1). You will have peace when you give these struggles to God and let Him keep them. (D. L. McCarragher, from book, “Mission Possible”)
• Pray specifically over the strongholds in your spouse’s life. Be bold. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. Ask the Lord to give you a scripture specifically for them and turn them into a prayer. Insert your spouse’s name and give God’s own word back to Him for your spouse. Ask God to show you how to love them beyond their faults and flaws and to show you the battles you should face head on versus the ones you should walk away from and lay totally at His feet, to be dealt with in His time.
Know that Satan will try to distract you. He will try to frustrate you and unsettle you and discourage you. That is the time you need to press into the Father and seek Him with your all. It will be worth the sacrifice. (Rosheeda Lee, from the Spiritually Unequal Marriage email, Jan. 4, 2010)
• God never says, “Oops!” Perhaps the most difficult thing for a spiritually-single wife to understand is that God is fully aware of her situation. Your spiritually-mismatched marriage can “mold you into someone who looks and loves more like Jesus,” Nancy Kennedy says. When an unbeliever’s wife recognizes God’s presence in her situation, she can relax. “You’ll be able to enjoy your life and that will ease tensions at home. When that happens, you won’t have to talk constantly about your faith because you’ll be living it” (from Lifeway.com article “How Spiritually Unequal Marriages Can Be Whole“).
• In our zeal to get our husbands saved, we do everything but show the love of Christ. The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.) is totally absent from the picture. In our efforts to be his savior, the fruit of the Spirit is not perfected in our lives. Although you really want to “be all that,” you still have growing to do. So stop thinking that you are better than your spouse —he can see right through you —and your superior attitude does not provide a warm welcome. (Sabrina D. Black, from the book “Can Two Walk Together?”)
• Some of our situations are far beyond us and beyond our ability to change. …There were times in our marriage when in my mind I was ready to leave, and I’m sure there were times when my husband may have wanted to leave. I had [figuratively] beaten him so badly with the Bible that he was probably saying, “Take the Bible and go.” Scripture says if the unbelieving spouse wants to leave, let him go. “But if the unbelieving partner [actually] leaves, let him do so; in such [cases the remaining] brother or sister is not morally bound. But God has called us to peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15). However, it does not say to put him out. I wanted to put [my husband] out. I said, “You are not a believer, and I am a believer, and this is not going to work. We are both struggling. Why don’t you go ahead and pack? God will understand.”
But that is not what the Scripture teaches. It says, if he wants to leave, it is OK to let him go. It did not say make him leave, encourage him to go, or tell him all the reasons why the marriage won’t work. Instead, you should be praying that God would move in the heart of your spouse, as well as in your marriage, and that He would strengthen you —give you endurance, patience and forbearance. (Sabrina D. Black, from the book, “Can Two Walk Together?”)
• If you’re afraid you’ll lose your spouse if you change and follow what God is telling you to do, be honest with your spouse! Be direct. Say, “Look, I’m making certain changes in my life right now and I don’t feel comfortable with x, y, and z activities anymore. But, I’m scared for us. I’m afraid that we’ve built our marriage on these activities and if I don’t do these things anymore with you, you’ll pull away and I’ll lose you. But these changes in my life are very important to me.” [A friend] explained that “Fear of losing your spouse is just Satan’s way of halting your progression. He convinces you that your spouse will leave you if you change and live the way God wants you to. So, if you ‘face the lion’ Satan loses his hold.” As Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) (From the Shelovesgod.com article “Facing the Lion in a Spiritually Uneven Marriage” written by Marnie Pehrson)
• Question: What more can a wife, with an unbelieving husband do, besides trusting God that He’s sovereign, praying in faith – believing that eventually God will reveal answers to your prayers, and finding ways to respectfully building him up?
Answer by Nancy Kennedy: Find common ground, especially when the spiritual difference is so profound, and maybe there’s antagonism. I would suggest finding the things that you do have in common and not talking about Jesus all the time. You can speak the Gospel loud and clear by never mentioning the name of Jesus. And I always tell women to start building a bridge. Build upon that relationship, find common ground, even if the only thing you have left in common is that you both like chocolate chip ice cream. Build on that, and then just keep finding common ground. (Nancy Kennedy, from the Family Life Today radio program, Won Without a Word, aired 06/26/03)
• Pray for your unbelieving spouse. If your spouse is not yet a Christian, ask God to show your spouse his or her need for Jesus. Pray for God to deliver your spouse from evil that deceives him or her, and help your spouse to discover the truth of the Gospel, which will set him or her free. Pray that the way you live out your faith would be a good example to your spouse that will help him or her draw closer to Jesus. Ask God to give your spouse an unmistakable encounter with the Holy Spirit. Pray for Christian friends for your spouse who can influence them in positive ways. Never stop praying for your spouse’s salvation as long as he or she is alive! (Whitney Hopler, from the Crosswalk.com article, “Pray Big Prayers for Your Marriage”)
• During your time of “waiting on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14), you must be courageous. This is not a time for whimpering and whining. This is a time to dig in and serve —and a time to dig trenches and fortify your position in Christ regarding your mate. The enemy is stealthy and clever in distraction regarding your mission. He will try to divert your energy and resources into other areas that might be good, but not GOD’s best! Be careful with too many church activities and over commitment.
Remember, your spouse does not understand your need to serve the kingdom purposes. Balance is crucial, when it comes to home, church, and work. Pray that God will prepare your husband’s heart and give you that understanding and favor regarding your “God assignments.” Use spiritual sensitivity and discernment when it comes to volunteering yourself for everything that comes your way at church. God will affirm to you the right things to do, and conversely, He will squelch those things which are wrong for you at the time. You must stay in touch with God on a daily basis through prayer, reading the Word, and seeking the Spirit’s leading to know His will for you and your household. (D. L. McCarragher, from book “Mission Possible)
• While perfection isn’t possible or even necessary, your behavior can attract or repel your spouse where spiritual growth is concerned. You’re living out what you’re experiencing with God. Is it appealing? Is your relationship with Christ making you a more enjoyable person to live with —or just a more religious one? (Rob Jackson, one of the authors of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
• No matter what your husband’s spiritual condition may be, he deserves a wife who exhibits God-pleasing behavior. You don’t have to hold back any good thing from your husband just because he doesn’t believe in God, in fact your loving treatment of him may cause him to have a change of heart! This is not to say that a wife has the power to save her husband’s soul; only the Holy Spirit can accomplish that, but you can certainly influence your husband (without words no less!) and show him the love of Christ. (From the web site Childoflight.org)
• The spouse who struggles with faith issues needs a gentle partner to come home to. A holier-than-thou approach is sure to deepen the divide —not only between your partner and yourself, but also between your partner and God (and it can’t do much for your own walk with Christ, either). Nobody wants to be smothered or judged or patronized. It’s not an issue of spiritual leadership or authority; it’s just human nature to pull away when someone invades your space physically or emotionally. (Rob Jackson, one of the authors of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
• Love really is the greatest motivator of all time. If you really want to see a spouse come to faith in Christ, it’s not going to be through cramming the Gospel down their throat. It’s not going to be through the Gospel ambush, through teaching a parrot how to present the Gospel, getting our toddler to be able to say, “Daddy, why don’t you go to church?” It’s going to be that spouse that allows the Holy Spirit to fill her, to fill him, and to be a mirror of God’s love to a man who doesn’t have spiritual eyesight.
He’s just a man, but you know what? He recognizes love when he sees it, and the real assignment for those listening to us right now is I want you, before your head hits the pillow tonight, I want you to sit down and write down five ways you can begin to aggressively show love to your spouse and none of them can be the proclamation of the Gospel verbally. They all need to be the proclamation of the Gospel through your life and through your actions and your heart and your respect and maybe even a kiss on the cheek for your spouse. (Dennis Rainey, from the Family Life Today Radio Program, Won Without a Word, aired on 06/26/03)
• If you’re married to an unbeliever: Shift your focus from your struggles to your Savior. When you’re being pulled simultaneously in two directions — toward God by the Holy Spirit and away from Him by your spouse — it’s important to remember where your priorities should lie. Staying riveted on the plight of a mismatched marriage bogs us down in our troubles rather than lifting our eyes toward the One who deserves our primary allegiance, the One who meets needs that our spouse never could. God recalibrates our life, and He empowers us to love our spouse when that person is not very lovable. He loves our partner even more than we do! So pursue the joy of God — resting in His presence — rather than the happiness of better external circumstances.” (Lee Strobel, from his article, “Mismatched Marriage: When One Spouse is an Unbeliever”)
• The Scripture teaches us that the Lord inhabits the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3 KJV). If you want the Lord to inhabit your relationship, then a natural ingredient is worshiping together. Unfortunately, some couples don’t have the benefit of worshiping together. Perhaps one works or just won’t go to church. This is an area to keep on your prayer list; look for ways to find meaning together when you can.
I know of a husband who agreed to go to church with his wife once a month. Instead of nagging or condemning about the other three weeks, she made a big deal out of that one morning a month by serving fun food and turning it into a pleasurable event. Within the year he was going most Sundays. Today, after many years, he is a leader in their church. Set the tone for a good experience. Pray for God’s Spirit to inhabit your worship. (Jim Burns, Creating an Intimate Marriage)
• Before you sum up your spouse’s spiritual struggle as merely a “sin issue,” take some time to consider his context. What was his religious experience as a child? Was his faith nurtured or hindered? Was his parents’ faith meaningful or a chore? Has he experienced a personal relationship with Christ or mere religion? The Bible is clear: We’re not authorized to judge others (Matthew 7:1). Sometimes in marriage we’re prone to judge because of what we know —or think we know —about our spouses. We do know, however, that God cares about our mates. The struggle may take time, and may even challenge our faith. In the meantime, we can trust Him to nurture our spouses and our marriages. (Rob Jackson, one of the authors of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
• Most women who are involved in unequally yoked relationships have heard the Scripture that your husband may be won through your quiet and gentle spirit. “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your 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” (1 Peter 3:1). My caution is that Scripture says that he may be won, not he will be won. It does not say that because you are quiet, gentle, and meek your husband will be saved in two weeks or any specific time frame.
As a counselor, I see a lot of women who are carrying anxiety and guilt about their husband’s salvation. However, we must remember that there was a time in our lives when we were without God and didn’t know enough to know we needed salvation. Even if we knew, we could not save ourselves; and we certainly cannot save anyone else. Do not become burdened or feel responsible for your spouse’s salvation. I know you probably don’t fully believe that things will ever change. So go ahead, take matters into your own hands, tell him what he’s missing, brag about what the pastor says, and what so-and-so’s husband is doing! And after you have wasted your time doing these things —and it is a gross waste of time —trust in the Lord to draw your husband into the faith the same way that He drew us. (Sabrina D. Black, from the book “Can Two Walk Together?”)
• “How would you treat your spouse if you saw them as being autographed by God?” Gary Smalley posed that question as he spoke on the subject of marriage and it’s a good one to think and pray about.
• Can you look at loving your spouse as doing it for the very heart of God? (Goes with Matthew 25:40)
• We often hear it asked, What am I getting out of this marriage? But the more appropriate question is: WHAT IS GOD GETTING OUT OF YOUR MARRIAGE? He’s seeking a colleague —a dedicated partner and coworker —in the ministry of loving your spouse, and YOU are the colleague he wants. Furthermore, He’s seeking a colleague to JOIN HIM in the ministry of loving you, and He wants your spouse to fill that role. (Never Alone – by David and Teresa Ferguson)
• Big mistake! Don’t ever compare your husband to other men, especially those at church, or you’ll be truly miserable and setting yourself up for some very harmful emotional situations. It’s easy to idealize men you don’t have to live with especially if your own husband doesn’t seem to be matching up, but all men (and women) have their faults and foibles. No one is perfect except Christ Jesus.
I have two pieces of advice here: One – Never make a man your confidante. Aside from conferring with your pastor, as a Christian woman you should confide in one or two trusted Christian sisters only. There are many reasons for this but I’ll only mention the obvious here. If you’re feeling your husband isn’t meeting your needs, unburdening yourself to a well-meaning and sympathetic male friend sets up an atmosphere of false intimacy that can lead to adulterous thoughts or actions.
Two – Don’t make it a habit to complain about what you perceive to be your husband’s “negative” qualities. Dwelling on and talking about your husband’s short-comings only re-enforces those thoughts in your mind as well as making him look bad to others, and you don’t want to do that to someone you love. (From the web site Childoflight.org)
• When you are in an unequally yoked relationship, one of the things that can really trip you up is looking at other people’s marriages. It is It is so easy to look at other couples and think, “I wish my spouse was a Christian and my relationship was like theirs.” Do not set yourself up to stumble. Do not look to the left or to the right; look up from whence cometh your help. Look up! Your help comes from the Lord. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 12:1-2 KJV).
Remember, if you look to the Lord and learn to praise Him for your spouse regardless of what is going on around you, you will have the abundant joy that He desires for you. (Sabrina D. Black, from the book, “Can Two Walk Together?”)
• As the wife of an unspiritual man, you naturally worry about how your children are going to come up. But God doesn’t want your children to be lost. Though I’ve often worried about this, especially when I see signs that my children are developing ungodly habits, I remind myself that God Himself gave my beloved little ones to me and is watching over their hearts and minds protecting them. Not only that but Jesus Christ died for them because of their ungodly habits. In His Hands they are safe. (From the web site Childoflight.org)
• Just because our spouse isn’t a believer (yet) doesn’t mean we can’t have a God-centered marriage. You are the conduit to bring God into your marriage. Keep the faith and remember that through that very same faith, your spouse partakes in your sanctification and God’s covering. (Dineen, from the Spiritually Unequal Marriage ministry)
• Ask yourself the most convicting question of all. When I get a new calendar at the start of every year, the first thing I do is find the first day of every month. Then I write down the sobering question I want to make sure I ponder at least once every 30 days: ‘How would I like to be married to me?’ I’ve been doing this since 1995, when I first read that provocative question in a book written by Les and Leslie Parrot. The reason that question is so convicting is that it’s rooted in how Jesus taught us to behave: ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matthew 7:12). How would you like to be married to you? Let that be the grid through which you evaluate how you’ll react to the often-disorienting dynamics of a relationship with an unbelieving spouse. Ask yourself that question so often, and wrestle with its implications so honestly, that it begins to reshape your attitude, decisions and reactions. This will help you will make the most of your spiritual mismatch. (Lee Strobel, from his article, “Mismatched Marriage: When One Spouse is an Unbeliever”)
• There are times when you might question God’s timing. Don’t beat yourself up by asking why your prayers haven’t been answered yet. Don’t let the terrible trio of fear, doubt, and unbelief do a number on you. The enemy loves to torture you with those, so don’t be double minded (James 1:8). Take authority and just believe. Try not to analyze why your spouse won’t “take hold of the cross.” Was it pride? Anger? Resentment at God?
We are not the Holy Spirit. Only God searches the heart and tests the mind (Jeremiah 17:10). God knows the perfect timing and perfect plans He has for your husband. “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Give it over to God today! (D. L. McCarragher, from the book “Mission Possible”)
• Question: Being mismatched can cause a marriage to be a roller coaster emotionally and spiritually. How do you combat those low times?
I stay close to God. Always. Even if I don’t feel like it. I find that a heavy heart is always uplifted by those precious words in the Bible. There’s so much in there, so many who have struggled before us and God put their stories and struggles right there for us to read and learn from.
Plus, it’s really hard to lose hope when God puts it on your heart to help someone who needs help or prayer. That helps me keep things in perspective. And the small group I’m part of is such a blessing in my life. These ladies are mismatched too. We pray for each other and hold each other up though it all.
The worst thing to do is to isolate yourself. I used to do that too. That’s where the enemy gains power and control in your life. We need other Christians to stay strong, I understand that now. Especially in a mismatched marriage.
But I’m noticing that the roller coaster is becoming more like a boat ride now. We have smooth waters most of the time, choppy waters occasionally. As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, things smooth out and we sail along. (From “An Interview with Lexie Baltimore – Part 2″, as posted on Spirituallyunequalmarriage.com”)
• Isaiah 40:31 tells us that those who hope in/wait on the Lord will renew their strength. That’s God’s promise of what time spent with him will produce. This is my pursuit right now… how can I live more victoriously in Christ and be a living and visual testimony to my husband of who Christ is?
Ladies and gents, we’re in a battle here. We can either stay alert at the feet of Christ or live in defeat. I know I much prefer Christ’s “feet” over “de-feat.” (Dineen, from The Spiritually Unequal Marriage email, April 14, 2010)