We all have unbelief, all to varying degrees. Unfortunately, we aren’t born believers; God must pursue our hearts until we willingly submit to Him and lay our lives at the feet of the cross. When the root of unbelief is in our hearts, we need to cry out to God in sincere desire to believe fully. In Mark 9:24, the father of a sick child cries out to Jesus that he believes and asks Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief. So, as believers, we can also call out to Jesus, and He will answer. The more challenging aspect comes when you marry someone wrapped in unbelief.
Sadly, we don’t have control over that situation at all. We desperately want our spouses to see with clear, unveiled eyes that God is the answer to all of their problems. The biblical wisdom they lack could bring them so much freedom and the burden their disbelief places on them. While there’s no one size fit all formula that will instantly revolutionize a mismatched marriage, a few principles can contribute to the health of your relationship. If you’re married to a non-believer, the following tips may help you navigate and thrive in your spiritual mismatch.
Shift your focus from your struggles.
When you’re being pulled in two different directions, toward God by the Holy Spirit and away from Him by your spouse, it’s important to remember where your priorities lie. Staying captivated on the dilemma of a mismatched marriage drags down our troubles instead of lifting our eyes toward God. God recalibrates our life, and He empowers us to love our spouses when they aren’t very loveable. He loves our partner even more than we do. Pursue the joy of God, resting in His presence instead of the happiness of better external circumstances.
Make your spouse your priority human being.
If your spouse is a non-believer, they may feel like they’re losing you to your religion. They may feel betrayed that you’re seeking comfort and encouragement from someone else. They may not understand why you worship an entity that you’ve never physically seen or heard His voice. However, your differing beliefs don’t mean that you’ve stopped relating in other areas. You got married because you enjoyed each other’s company and shared mutual interests. Putting your partner first will quell their jealousy.
Resist focusing on your spouse’s unbelief.
There’s a natural tendency in a lopsided marriage to become obsessed about the one shortcoming in your partner that they aren’t a Christian. Obsessing over their disbelief may look like forcing them to read Bible verses or join your church every chance you get. You may feel the need to fix their unbelief, but this could fuel their bitterness towards you. Instead, try to emphasize the things you like about your spouse. The more you accentuate their positive attitudes, the more you motivate them to live up to your praises.
Teach your children Christian values without turning them against your spouse.
If there are children in the equation, things may be complicated. Sunday school is an opportunity for your children to develop strong moral values. As a believer, you have the privilege and responsibility to show your children how wonderful it is to know Jesus. However, if Mommy or Daddy doesn’t go to church or seek a relationship with God, your kids may wonder if there’s something not so extraordinary about their mother or father. It would be best to avoid undermining the authority or showing anything less than respect for your non-believing spouse. You wouldn’t want your children to look down on them because they aren’t a follower of Jesus.
Pursue a “Christian” marriage by living out godly principles in your life.
Your non-believing spouse may belittle your choice to believe in a higher power. They may criticize you for attending church services or offer sarcasm while you’re praying. You may feel tempted to give them a taste of their own medicine. However, it would be best not to let their negative attitude get to you. With God’s help, you can resist those urges. Retaliation won’t make anything better and may cause things to get worse. The Christian principles that you bring to your marriage will change the flavor of your relationship. Be a truth-teller, a servant, a forgiver, a person of humility, integrity, and kindness. The extent to which your relationship can be “Christian” is the extent to which you commit yourself to following Jesus and letting His influence seep into your life.
Keep expectations realistic.
If your skeptic spouse decides to become a believer, you may think that everything about them will change instantly. However, they may not quite live up to your expectations. God may round their rough edges, change their values, priorities, and worldview, but they’re still who they were when you married them. Don’t think that they will become perfect when they become a believer.
Marrying someone who is a non-believer is a deal-breaker for some Christians. However, that may be the reason God brought you two together.
If your spouse chooses not to become a believer, don’t resent them for making that choice. Instead, it would be best to love them through their decision. On the other hand, you shouldn’t allow them to talk down on you for being a believer. The two of you should develop some boundaries that the two of you can respect when it comes to religion. When you decide to have children, sit down and talk about how you’ll incorporate faith into your children. If one spouse chooses not to go to church, don’t belittle them or talk down about them in front of your children. Religion is necessary for some people, but it’s ultimately an individual decision.