So my inbox is filling up with “Dear Courtney” questions and I feel like we are playing a game called “Stump the Blogger”! lol! Some of your questions are really really really hard – I think I need to be 80 with a PHD to answer them! But none the less – I’ll give them my best shot! Here’s the first Dear Courtney post of the series!
I’m a new Christian and my husband is NOT a believer. I have read Proverbs 31 and 1 Peter but find it really hard to put into practice. I do pray that my husband will come to know God but I want to know how to be a good example to him to encourage and inspire him to seek The Lord. Any suggestions?
Natalie, 35, London, ENGLAND
Oh Sweet Natalie – I get this question a lot…you are not alone. Long ago, I posted this blog post written by my real life friend Deanna on How to Thrive in a Spiritually Mismatched Marriage. I hope that her writing will encourage you:
An unequally yoked marriage is a difficult path to walk. But I want to encourage you by saying that one can have a happy, fulfilling marriage with an unbelieving husband. You do not just have to survive your spiritually mismatched marriage, but you can actually thrive in the midst of it.
On November 14th, I (Deanna) celebrated 28 years of marriage with my beloved unbeliever. God has had to do a mighty work in my heart and I have come to know my Lord and Savior intimately as God has taught me how to be a godly wife to a man who had no interest in spiritual things. My life verse has been, “I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
As I reflect back over the years I would like to share with you some of the Pitfalls to having a marriage that thrives:
First, I had a “Holier Than Thou Attitude”. I esteemed myself above him because I was a Christian and he was not!! Oh my!!! God’s word says:Phil 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others.”
Second, I had a judgmental attitude. I was often mentally critical of his actions and words. I felt since my husband did not seek God, how could he speak into my life! I used sarcasm as a weapon. I played the martyr and treated my marriage as a cross I must bear for being unequally yoked. I did not treat my husband with respect. Ephesians does not give us an option on respecting our husbands. It does not say “if he deserves it” or “if you feel like it”,” if he is a Christian or not”- just to respect our husbands- period! (Ephesians 5:33 “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”)
My focus was on my circumstances.
I focused on the negative attributes of my husband.
I focused on my pain and heartache I felt when I was sitting in the church pew alone…again. Looking around with envy at all the couples wishing my husband was next to me.
I focused on the burden of being the spiritual leader in my home. I focused on not having the spiritual under girding from him because sometimes moral support was not enough.
I focused on my children not having a godly dad. I focused on the weight of teaching and nurturing the spiritual upbringing of our children.
I focused on the pain and despair I felt when my teenage son decided not to go to church and his excuse was “Dad doesn’t, so neither am I”
I focused on the fear that would well up inside of me when I faced the reality that my husband may never accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. This fear fueled my tactics of manipulation and scheming in an attempt to get my husband to see his need of a Savior! Before I knew it, I felt responsible for his salvation!!!
I focused on my loneliness and spiritual isolation.
I focused on the deep, deep heartache of not being able to share anything spiritual with my husband. Yes, I could tell him how God answered prayer or how God’s word touched my heart, but he does not understand. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
I focused on the longing I had for the day we could worship and rejoice together over God’s blessings to us.
All these desires and strong emotions are valid and real, but my focus was wrong. My focus had to change from my circumstances to Jesus. I was tired of being miserable. I wanted that abundant life that I read about in the Bible. I began to cry out to God and asked Him to change my heart. I asked God to help me die to self and began to consciously choose to yield and be submissive to God. This allowed me take on a submissive attitude with my husband also.
I prayed for God to renew my love and passion for my husband. I prayed for God to show me how to respect my husband when I did not feel like it or feel he deserved it. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I was able to love and serve my husband with joy, placing his needs above my own. When I am feeling frustrated, lonely or angry I cry out to my Rock and Redeemer. In Christ I can be gentle and kind, desiring to be a blessing to my man. When I fail, I ask for forgiveness and try again. 1 John 1:9, Ps 116:1-2
So, how do you deal with a husband who doesn’t believe but you do? 1Peter 3: 1-4 says, “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. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, 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.”
Abiding in Christ enables a believing wife to live with and thrive in a happy marriage with her unbelieving husband. It is about a daily, sometimes minute by minute laying down of selfish ways, forgiveness, not neglecting God’s word or quiet time with your Savior and being obedient to God’s word- and pray, pray, pray. (John 15)
Here are some practical ways to apply God’s word:
1. I am paraphrasing 1 Peter 3:1, Keep your lips zipped. Allow your actions to speak of God’s love. Wait for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to use your words.
2. Read or study your bible, visit with Christian friends or teach your children godly principles when he is not around.
3. “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Cor 11:3 It is very important for your husband to know he comes BEFORE church activities and friends.
4. Take your frustration, anger, loneliness or hurt feelings to God first. Pour your heart out to Him and allow Christ to quiet your heart and heal your wounds. Then, if necessary, address the issue with your husband. (Ps 62:8)
For more encouragement, I recommend the book “Beloved Unbeliever” by Jo Berry
Do not give up hope. After 27 years of prayer my husband accepted Christ as his Savior!!!!!
I love Deanna’s testimony! She’s a true Titus 2 Woman and after 27 years God answered her prayers!
Chime In: Do you have/or have had an unbelieving husband and how would you encourage Natalie?