TORN: You Love God and Your Unbelieving Spouse

Unbelieving spouse Dollar Photo - Young couple quarrelingDo you feel torn at times because you love God, but you also love your unbelieving spouse? You are feeling conflicted within your heart and within your marriage. Your God and your spouse are the two great loves of your life. That’s a dilemma that many, many spouses face who live with an unbelieving husband or wife.

The spiritual dynamics involved seems to cause a tearing within your marriage relationship. You just don’t know what to do about it, and where to go to find hope and comfort.

You also find that:

“God’s Word is usually comforting, but to a person whose spouse doesn’t share the faith, the words in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 are heartbreaking: ‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? … What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?‘”

Have you found this to be true in your experience? Author Kathy Cordell did and has learned a lot from it as she lives with her unbelieving husband.

To find out what she learned and more, please read the following article. Whether it’s your husband that is not living for the Lord, or your wife, please glean through the information. Interpolate, if you need to, and see how God can personalize the advice given and specifics of what you can learn:


In Addition:

Here’s another marriage tip for those who are in a spiritually mismatched marriage. Kathy wrote the following in a Todays Christian Woman Magazine article titled, “Torn Between Two Lovers —Part 1.” Perhaps you can relate:

“When I became a Christian, my vocabulary changed. I learned a lot of ‘Christianese,’ which only frustrated Brian when he heard it. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, ‘The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.‘ In essence, this Scripture says we now speak different languages and that doesn’t make for good communication. I’ve learned not to speak ‘Christianese’ or dazzle him with biblical knowledge. Instead, I ask God to provide creative ways to share my faith in every day conversations.

“For instance, when I say, ‘God is number one in my life,’ that’s a very threatening statement to an unsaved spouse. Brian’s reaction was, ‘Great! What about me and the kids?’ Since Brian loves biking, I told him God is like the hub of a wheel and all the other aspects of my life are the spokes. If it weren’t for the strength of the hub holding the spokes in place, the wheel would fly apart much like my life if God weren’t my hub.  He understood this illustration without feeling replaced and I clearly emphasized God’s centrality in my life.

“Brian still doesn’t go to church or attend Bible study. He still changes the radio station every time we get in the car. But he better understands the importance of God’s centrality in my life, and I understand his need for my attention and respect. Whatever God is doing in Brian’s life is between him and a very personal Savior. I cling tightly to the biblical promise that says, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household‘ (Acts 16:31). In the meantime, I’m thankful for the miracle of a lighter yoke.”

Furthermore, on Living with an Unbelieving Spouse:

In another Today’s Christian Woman Magazine article, “Torn Between Two Lovers —Part 2,” Kathy Cordell gives another point to prayerfully consider:

“It’s okay to fly under the radar. Prayer, personal study, worship, and fellowship are vital to cultivating an intimate relationship with God. But these are also activities that a non-Christian spouse may resent most. Tension builds as a spouse feels torn between spiritual growth and marital stability.

“There’s nothing I love more than filling our home with praise music or Scripture. However, when Brian comes home, I turn off the music and close my Bible. I call it ‘flying under the radar.’ This doesn’t imply a life of duplicity or deception, but rather sensitivity to a man who may feel threatened otherwise. I never want to hide my spirituality, but I’ve found it’s better to witness through my actions than to force Christianity on him. Flying under the radar has also been an opportunity for my children to observe me worship openly, yet witness silently at home. Both our children have accepted Christ as their Savior and they understand my strong conviction for the Lord. By showing them this submitted lifestyle, I convey respect for their father while honoring God.

“Thanks to a fairly flexible work schedule, I can often meet with friends or attend Bible study while Brian is at work. I realize every woman doesn’t have the advantage of flexibility, but I believe by asking God for ‘radar space,’ he’ll provide times for personal growth. Without a doubt there will be conflicts, but it’s God’s desire for us to meet with him. By prayerfully asking for pockets of time, he will provide the opportunities (Mark 11:24).”

And Lastly:

The following Focus on the Family article, focuses on what to do when the wife walks away from her faith. Once again, whether you’re the husband, or you’re the wife longing for your spouse to know the Lord in a personal way, please glean through the advice given. Ask God to show YOU what YOU should be doing in your unequally yoked marriage:


We hope you have found this information on dealing with an unbelieving spouse to be helpful. We pray the Holy Spirit, our Wonderful Counselor, will guide you as you find ways to show love to your unbelieving husband or wife.

If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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6 responses to “TORN: You Love God and Your Unbelieving Spouse

  1. (AUSTRALIA)  Thank you so much for this insightful article. I find that, from time to time, I do struggle with the weight of my husband’s unbelief. I needed to read & learn some of her “lessons”, thinking as I read it: off course, God’s shown me this before. It was a good “follow-up course”. God bless.

  2. (PHILIPPINES)  Well, this has been a real problem not only today but even before. Though I agree that someone has to deal with pastoral / counseling support on this issue, I do not agree that we have to focus on exemptions.

    The main problem is focusing on the exemptions of this issues in marital relationship is that, most people who committed the same mistake will also ask for exemption. And the result will be compromising the faith and all that is in it, as in living in a sinful unrepentant life. I just hope that you are sort of getting my point on the issue of marrying an unbeliever.

  3. (NAMIBIA)  I truly needed to read this. My husband doesn’t want to hear any mention of my Christian life nor any activities I get myself involved with. I have gone through all sorts of prayer and fasting anyone could, pleading that he gets saved. Reading this article has just given me the hope and opened my eyes to how selfish my prayers and efforts have been. I spent my whole married life desiring him to be this ideal man that sits next to me in church, that prays with me and attends all marriage seminars the church organises. I’m truly thankful that God is using you in this ministry. This article calls for my repentance and to seek forgiveness both to God and my husband. It is my ideal that I will be the woman that God wants me to be toward my husband. Praise the Lord for your calling.

  4. (CANADA) I have a question. I am 26 yrs old and grew up as a Christian home and was following Christ. When I was 13 my parents divorced. For the past 13 yrs I have not been following after Christ. 5 years ago I fell in love with a non-believer and 3 years ago had a baby and got engaged. The last couple of days God has been pulling at my heart to go back to church and get my life back on track and follow Christ. What do I do with my relationship? I do not want my family divided and separated.

    He has advised that he will not stop me from going back to church and following after God. He says he will go to church on his own time and doesn’t want to be forced into it. What do I do? Do I break things off before we get married or continue to proceed with my marriage and life with him and pray that God will work on his heart and turn his life around also? HELP. I look at my daughter and my heart breaks for her to live in a divded home.

    1. Sarah, My heart breaks for your daughter and for you and for this man too. I can only imagine how God is grieving for you –after all, you are His child. In answering your question (which is VERY difficult to do), something comes to mind that Dr Charles Swindoll said. He said, “Whenever God is knocked out, sin is minimized.” “When we do wrong, we set in motion a cycle of complications.” For whatever reason, you walked away from God and minimized the consequences. And now things are complicated. That’s just the way they are. I’m not throwing stones at you… (the Lord knows that I’ve sinned in my life). I’m just saying that things get messier when we do what we shouldn’t. And after we wake up and discover what we did, we can either continue down a wrong path and complicate things all the more, or we can stand up straight and do the best we can with whatever comes our way as a result of what we did wrong in the first place. For your and your daughter’s sake, I hope you’ll do what God is prompting in your heart –to go with God. She is no mistake — she is a gift from God, and deserves no less.

      I’m not telling you to exclude your child’s father from your life — that’s not fair to your daughter or to him. But you feel this urging in your heart and soul to go back to church and especially to pursue God. I sure wouldn’t ignore that. I’m not sure if one of your parents will take you and your daughter in (one who wouldn’t hurt your walk with God further) during this stepping stone time in your life, but it’s something to pray about. With your fiancé, I think you would tell him that you won’t force him to go to church, because that’s a personal decision. But right now you need to figure some things out and you need time where you are not living together to do that. If he wants to join you and your daughter at church, then you would be thrilled. But if he doesn’t then you understand (and you do, because you’ve done that and have been there).

      I don’t know what will happen. Perhaps your fiancé will eventually come around too, as he sees that you are genuine and you’re not trying to act as his Holy Spirit (but you’re quietly praying for him and allowing God to be God in his life). Time will tell whether he will respond to God. And yes, it’s heart-breaking to think of doing this to your daughter. But what is better for her –to start, from this day forward, to do what you know is right, or to keep going down the path you’re on right now that will lead to more complications and consequences?

      There’s a ministry called Focus on the Family – Canada, that I highly recommend you contact (just put it in a search engine to go to their web site). I’m thinking that perhaps they can give you some guidance as you set out to pursue the Lord, as He has been nudging you. Sarah, I want you to know that I’m proud of you for reaching out as you have. It’s a great first step to make. This is very, very, very difficult, no doubt, to face what is ahead. But you’re headed in a good direction. I hope you will continue the journey that the Lord wants you to take, for your sake and for the sake of your daughter (and perhaps your fiancé, if he decides to eventually join you). “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11) My heart and prayers are with you Sarah.

  5. That’s an interesting article. I’m currently torn. I’m a Christian and coming from a church family and I can’t change my beliefs… Recently facing a challenge with my husband. He goes to a different church and I don’t believe in the way they do things. But I have accepted what he wants. Sometimes the things he does breaks my heart and I feel so that I can’t take it anymore. I talked to him and let him know how I feel. We have been together for more than 15 years and I love him. I don’t know what to do.