How Can I Be Happy in My Marriage When My Spouse Is Not a Christian?

The fact that you and your spouse do not share the same faith in Christ can create a number of problems in your marriage. At one time, the differences in what you believed might have seemed like a minor problem. But now they have grown into feelings of detachment and resentment, hindering intimacy and causing a significant barrier.

It’s not uncommon in marriage to have feelings of loneliness and isolation. Any of us who are married can begin to lose our passion for our spouse. But a believer who is married to an unbeliever may have even more of a struggle with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and resentment.

The challenge for you as a believer is to do all you can to set the stage and create an environment for your husband or wife to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. Exhibiting Christlike love in your marriage has the greatest potential for compelling your spouse to trust in God.

Loving your spouse means putting your spouse’s needs before your own. It’s not ignoring your needs, but when he has a legitimate need (not anything that would violate you as a person), it is loving to do what you can to help him. Invite him to enjoy a deeper relationship with you and hopefully a future relationship with Jesus Christ. Loving him well is being truthful and honest about your feelings and allowing him the same freedom to have and express his thoughts and feelings. Open communication and mutual respect help define a loving relationship.

As you love your spouse, also stay committed to God and to your values. Continue to pray, to go to church, and to read the Bible. Pray for your spouse ( Colossians 1:9 ; Hebrews 4:16 ). Fellowship with other believers (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 10:25 ). In 1 Corinthians 7:14, the apostle Paul explained that the unbelieving mate is “sanctified” through the relationship with a saved partner. This means that the unsaved husband or wife is set apart to a place of special privilege and spiritual potential through living with a saved partner. For example, an unsaved man who has a wife sincerely praying for him and living a Christian life before him in the home is in a position where conditions will be favorable to his salvation. Not only does his wife influence him, but fellow believers who know the man’s spiritual state will also join in prayer on his behalf.

But try not to push your unbelieving husband or wife. They may feel manipulated if you encourage them to go to church or read the Bible with you. Trying to get them to attend church with you or pray with you is futile. Unbelievers have no basis to want this. Why would they pray when they have no faith? Pushing them to do activities such as church-going may lead them away from the truth of the gospel. In fact, the apostle Peter told believing wives to win over their unbelieving husbands “without words” but by the “behavior” of “purity and reverence” and “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” ( 1 Peter 3:1-4 ).

Remember that your faith will be tested. There may be times when you feel that your efforts are worthless, that they are not making a difference in your husband or wife. Your partner may even misunderstand your motives at times and pull away from you. The distance you feel can make you want to give up trying.

During these lonely times with your mate, acknowledge your legitimate feelings of loss and disappointment over not having a happier marriage. Take them to God in prayer, for He will comfort those who grieve ( Matthew 5:4 ). God doesn’t promise marital happiness, but He gives us something far better — restored faith, hope, joy, peace, and love ( Psalm 119:116; 147:11; Romans 15:13 ). God uses difficult times like these to bring about patience and character in us, working for our benefit ( Romans 8:28; James 1:2-4 ).

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