For many years, I was married to an unbeliever, a non-Christian. We were certain we were made for each other, and we built a family together, complete with house and kids.
Oh, how I loved that man! He made me smile at the very thought of him. He laughed at my stupid jokes and told me I was beautiful, even when I thought otherwise. We saw most things eye-to-eye, and we rarely ever argued. It was a pretty good life.
But sometimes it was hard.
It was hard raising kids with similar, but different, values. It was hard going to church by myself. It was hard worrying about what the future – and my husband’s eternity – would hold.
After I repented of my own season of rebellion toward God, I desperately wanted my husband to love Jesus with me. I lived in fear that something would happen to him before he accepted Christ. I wanted to lead Him to the throne of grace so He would repent, too, and we could live the perfect Christian life together.
Well, I’m afraid that “perfect life” never happened for us.
I’m no longer married to that non-Christian man….because God, in His grace, reached down into his life and saved him. Thankfully, his redemptive story did happen, and my husband is now a new creation.
In what can only be described as a miracle, my unbelieving husband decided to listen to recordings of the Bible on his way to and from work. The Holy Spirit used those Words to soften his heart, and he accepted Christ’s forgiveness and salvation.
No, we still haven’t discovered the “perfect life” I thought would magically appear, but we are both covered by the perfect grace Jesus offers at the cross. God reached into our lives and rescued us. Our future is forever changed.
What is your story?
Maybe, like me, you fell in love and married an unbeliever, even though you knew the Bible warned against it.
Maybe you got pregnant and rushed into an unequal marriage to “do the right thing.”
Maybe you weren’t a Christian when you go married, but have since given your heart to Christ, even though your husband hasn’t made the same decision.
Maybe you thought the man you walked down the isle with was believer, but have since realized it was all an illusion.
Maybe your husband is a Christian, but right now he’s struggling in his faith, or even running from the Lord.
Or, perhaps you’re reading this and feeling thankful that you do have the “perfect life” with your Jesus-loving man. Praise the Lord! But I can promise you that there are women around you who aren’t walking in your same shoes, and they need your encouragement and compassion.
Those women are secretly wondering if the man they love will ever give his heart to the One they love. They’re hoping nobody asks them to explain why they’re at church alone again. They are worried that their world and family might come crashing down someday. They feel lonely and guilty and misunderstood.
Hope from the Father
If you find yourself married to a non-Christian today, I want to offer you hope. God loves you. He loves you more than your husband – Christian or non-Christian – ever could. He loves you so much that He gave His Son to redeem you.
Like a loving Father, God has spoken directly into your situation. In 1 Peter 3:1-6, wives whose husbands “do not obey the word” are given grace-filled instruction:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:1-4)
God doesn’t want you to be fearful, and He doesn’t expect you to say just the right thing that will win your man over to “God’s team.” He wants you gently and respectfully love your husband, and then trust Him with your husband’s heart.
I know it can be hard (really hard) to live out that kind of love, especially when your husband isn’t walking with the Lord. Remember that your heart attitude is precious to God, and His grace that saved you will also strengthen and sustain you.
9 Ways to Love Your UnBelieving Husband:
1. Don’t think you control eternity.
Your husband’s salvation is not in your hands; it’s in God’s hands. I remember very clearly the night I got on my knees beside the dining room table and opened up my hands before God. I’ve never struggled so much to unclench my fists.
That moment changed everything for me. I released my grasp on my husband’s life and told God that I would praise Him regardless of the outcome. I committed myself to praying for my husband and loving him for the rest of our lives, even if he never came to Christ. I could love my husband whole-heartedly without trying to manipulate him into salvation.
2. Don’t forget that God loves you and your children.
Like your husband’s salvation isn’t in your hands, your future (and your children’s future) isn’t in your husband’s hands. God holds the future, and He has a sovereign plan for your life and your children’s lives.
Just because your man doesn’t lead you spiritually, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow in your faith. And just because your husband doesn’t parent with instruction or morals found in the Bible, that doesn’t mean your children are doomed to destruction. Trust God to do His perfect work.
3. Don’t continually criticize and condemn.
If your husband isn’t a Christian, you can’t expect him to act like one. He’s going to say and do things that aren’t glorifying to God. That’s just a fact.
While you may decide to occasionally speak up when a morally objectionable situation arises, you cannot and should not voice your opinion over every sin your husband displays. He’ll get pretty discouraged if he thinks you disapprove of his every word and deed.
4. Don’t give disapproving looks.
The same thing goes for “the look” you give your husband. Most of us women have a look that communicates our disapproval better than our words ever could.
You may choose to hold your tongue, but scowling at your husband or rolling your eyes at him when he does something sinful isn’t going to convict him of his sin or draw him to the Savior. You don’t want to communicate that your love for Jesus makes you look down your nose at everything he says or does.
5. Don’t be a manipulative “Holy Spirit.”
Having a “quiet” spirit does not mean giving your husband the cold shoulder every time he doesn’t walk according to Word of God. That’s not very “gentle.”
When your husband says he doesn’t want to go to church this week or he argues with you about a biblical topic, don’t pout or give the silent treatment in response. God has called you to be a wife in your husband’s life, not the Holy Spirit. Besides, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, but he never lays a manipulative guilt trip on anyone.
6. Don’t paint a bad picture.
We also need to guard our tongue and attitude when we are talking about our husband to other people, even other Christians. Don’t use your small group’s prayer time to air your husband’s dirty laundry. Don’t tell all your friends about his every fault and spiritual shortcoming. Don’t tell your children about how sinful their daddy is (hey, we’re all sinners).
It is good to have one or two godly women who you can confide in and glean wisdom from. You may want to open up to them in private, knowing they’ll pray for you and encourage you in your difficult situation.
7. Don’t wish for a different spouse.
Your best friend’s husband isn’t a saint. Neither is your pastor, your small group leader, or that godly man you see at church every week. Every man (and woman, for that matter) is a sinner and has his faults.
Beware of letting your heart desire someone else as your husband and spiritual leader. Even if you don’t have “inappropriate” thoughts about him, just wishing you had a husband like him can lead you to stray into dangerous territory. Don’t go there. Praise God for the man you are joined to, faults and all.
8. Don’t get caught up in “if only…”
“If only my husband was a Christian, we wouldn’t have these ridiculous arguments”…”If only my husband loved God, he would help me discipline the children more”…”If only my husband was saved, he wouldn’t be so selfish.”
The grace of God is not pixy dust. The moment of salvation does not magically turn anyone into the perfect husband, father, and all-around human being. His salvation is not the answer to your every gripe and frustration. Sanctification takes time, but even after a lifetime of walking with God, your husband still might leave his dirty socks on the floor and watch sports all weekend.
9. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.
I have seen God directly answer my prayers in my husband’s life time and time again. One of the most loving things you can do for your husband is to pray for him. It’s no small thing.
After I gave up trying to be the Holy Spirit in my husband’s life, I adopted the motto, “Shut up and pray.” Instead of rushing to tell my husband what he was doing wrong, manipulate him into doing right, or talk his ear off about Jesus, I would lock my lips and pray until God was clearly opening the door for me.
Rest in Jesus
Dear friend, if you are married to an unbeliever, take heart! God loves you with a steadfast love. The God who parted the sea, closed the mouths of lions, and sacrificed His own Son for your sins has a plan for your life and your husband’s life.
Love your imperfect husband in the same way that God loves you as His imperfect child. God’s grace is sufficient for your every hope, need, and desire. He can soften the hardest heart and strengthen your weakest moments.
God rarely works in the timing we would like, but He is always at work. Trust in Jesus and commit to praising God, regardless of how He works in your husband’s heart. God is good, and His mercies never come to an end.
Are you married to a non-Christian man? Do you find it challenging to have a “gentle and quiet spirit”? Is it hard to trust God with your husband’s salvation? Do you have a word of encouragement to share with other women in your same situation?
By the way, if you want to grow in praying for your marriage, take the 21-day Forever By Grace Prayer Challenge! Learn more here, or enter your email address below to get started and receive a free download of 52 Date Night Questions to ask on your next date or moment alone. Of course, don’t ask all 52 at once, but choose a few each time. 😉