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Unbelieving Spouse

Unbelieving Spouse

Marriage can be hard, but being married to someone who does not share your faith in Christ is harder. How do you face life's challenges and grow in your spiritual journey when your spouse is unbelieving?

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Following Christ Alone

Growing in intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is a source of great joy. It also can be a source of conflict when your spouse does not share your commitment to Christ. It makes it more difficult to face life challenges, to make important decisions, and even to grow in your faith when you are not both centering your life on God’s will.

Even when your spouse is basically a good person, the disconnect of no shared faith in Christ or worrying about where your spouse will go after death can hurt your relationship. It is even worse if your spouse is hostile to your faith.

How can you honor God when your spouse does not? Is there anything you can do to help your spouse become a believer?


Christianity is a group faith. It is something to be lived out among a community of believers. As a body of people following Christ, we give and receive fellowship, comfort, and encouragement (1 Corinthians 12:12-17, Galatians 6:2, Philippians 2:4, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). You need a community of believers. Your spouse needs you as well. God designed marriage to be a source of mutual support. You are accountable to the vows you made to your spouse even if he or she is not a believer. To honor both your marital vows and your place in the body of believers, you should commit to regular church involvement that still leaves time for your marriage. There is a better chance your spouse will come to faith if you make time to go to church and he (she) sees that God now has priority in your life and has changed you.

If you join every Bible study and volunteer for a broad range of extra activities, it can give the signal you are no longer committed to meeting the needs of your spouse. This is magnified especially if you are doing those things to keep yourself occupied apart from your spouse.


If you are a wife who is balancing your involvement in a body of believers with your involvement in your marriage, what can you say to help your husband become a believer? Not a whole lot. What really influences a husband more than your words are your actions. To wives of unbelievers, the Apostle Peter said, “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, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (1 Peter 3). No amount of nagging or persuading can motivate an unbelieving husband toward faith. It might even drive him further away. The best draw will be seeing you live out your faith by showing him respect and loving care like he has never seen before. It will not be easy, and there is no guarantee that it will generate an immediate response. If you choose to love your spouse as unto the Lord, regardless of how he responds, you can leave the rest up to God, knowing you were faithful.


When you are growing within a body of believers and faithfully seeking to serve and esteem your spouse, you can be hopeful. You cannot control the timing, but you can believe that God is able to use your commitment to win over even the most reluctant spouse.

recommended books

Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch

By Lee and Leslie Strobel

Someone came between Lee and Leslie Strobel, threatening to shipwreck their marriage. No, it wasn't an old flame. It was Jesus Christ. Leslie's decision to become a follower of Jesus brought heated opposition from her skeptical husband. They began to experience conflict over a variety of issues, from finances to child-rearing. But over time, Leslie learned how to survive a spiritual mismatch. Today they're both Christians--and they want you to know that there is hope if you're a Christian married to a nonbeliever.

In their intensely personal and practical book, they reveal:
·Surprising insights into the thinking of non-Christian spouses
·A dozen steps toward making the most of your mismatched marriage
·Eight principles for reaching out to your partner with the gospel
·Advice for raising your children in a spiritually mismatched home
·How to pray for your spouse--plus a 30-day guide to get you started
·What to do if you're both Christians but one lags behind spiritually
·Advice for single Christians to avoid the pain of a mismatch

Beloved Unbeliever

By Jo Berry

Discover positive ways to approach the problem of being unequally yoked. Now there's help, truly godly help! Using the scriptural framework of love, Beloved Unbeliever shows how to love your husband into the faith. Jo Berry interviewed dozens of women who are married to unbelievers. They shared the greatest difficulties they encounter and practical ways to handle problems. You'll learn: how to be a suitable helper; how to deal with hurts, heartaches, and hindrances; & how to shoulder spiritual responsibility.

In addition, you'll find workshop questions on each chapter, so you can follow up on the chapter with individual or group study. Beloved Unbeliever will reassure you: happiness is possible in an unequally yoked situation.

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