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How to Live With An Unbelieving Spouse

I got married when I was 19 to a man I did not know. I was young and foolish and most importantly, I was not saved. 10 years later, he would still be an unbelieving spouse, but I would give my whole life to the Lord through the most painful situation I’d ever encountered. But nothing would prepare me for my next four years.

Four years I continued to live with an unbelieving spouse. A man who hated me and my faith. A man who pretended to love God on the outside, yet showed no fruit of the spirit or a desire to change anything in his life. Every single day, I cried out to the Lord, as this man would bait me constantly, trying to get me to sin, trying to fight with me, trying to get under my skin, not helping me with the house, the kids, just living in his own little world except to come out and fight. Constantly asking me to give up the things that were most important to me in my life, and continually moving us around the country looking for something he would never find.

You may be in that situation today. Maybe you know someone who is married to an unbeliever. Maybe you are the unbelieving spouse frustrated with your spouse who loves the Lord.

Whatever the case may be, there are 5 things you need to know…

1 – You cannot change your spouse.

You can try to save them until you’re blue in the face. You can talk about God all day long. You can continually tell them about God, encourage them to go to church, but you will never save them. You see, just as you yourself couldn’t change your own spiritual condition apart from the work of Christ, neither can your spouse. You say,”Yeah, but God wants everyone to be saved, and I’ve been praying for them for so long.” This is true. Salvation does not come apart from your spouse. Okay, now wait a minute, Sarah, you just said a person can’t be saved apart from Christ. Make up your mind.

Okay, let me say it plainly. Your spouse cannot save himself, you cannot save your spouse, but God won’t do it apart from your spouse either. You see, it takes two. It takes God AND your husband. Just like it takes two to create a new life, a new bundle of joy, it takes TWO to create a new life spiritually as well. God and man. They are interchangeable. It’s not possible one without the other.

It is fully human will and it is fully sovereign grace.

It is fully election, God picks and chooses whom He will save, and it is fully human choice, a human makes the choice. They stand before God for their own decisions. The same is true of Jesus. Jesus was fully a human man, but at the same time, He was also fully God.

2 – Your biggest weapon in trying to save your spouse is NOT your mouth.

Now this is where a lot of women get tripped up. I got tripped up with it too, the first year. You see, after my salvation, I was so excited to share my new-found joy and hope with anyone who would listen. I wasn’t being a pain on purpose, I was just honestly excited. My whole life changed. But, for a spouse that is not ready to accept Christ, it becomes tiresome real quick to hear about it all the time.

I had to learn to edit myself. I had to learn to stop talking about Christ to my spouse. Wait, what??? Yeah, that shocks a lot of people. 🙂 You see, your biggest weapon in helping your spouse come to salvation isn’t your mouth. It isn’t what you say, it’s what you do. Tell me if you’ve heard this saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” In the Bible, it comes from Matthew 21: 28-32. 1 Peter 3:1 says,

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives…

Win your spouse without a word. WITHOUT. A. WORD. Let your actions, your motives, your love, your new desires, your new heart, your new mind and spirit do the talking FOR you!

3 – Your biggest defense is prayer.

Never wake up in the morning without first praying for your spouse. Never go to bed at night without first praying for your spouse. Never go 5 hours in your day without praying for your spouse. Your biggest defense, your strongest position is prayer. If you are Christian, God answers every single prayer you have. His answer may be no, maybe it’s wait, maybe it’s yes. But every single prayer is answered.

Don’t believe me? Start a prayer journal.

Every day write down your top 5 prayer requests. Do this for a year and cross off the prayers as God answers them. At the end of the year count up exactly how many prayers you have that God has not answered yet. Hint, I personally do this. God’s total was ZERO! Wasn’t always the way I wanted. I asked Him to give me a way of escape to the nightmare of a marriage I had and He sovereignly allowed my ex-husband to leave and divorce me. But, I say with full assurance, there were no prayers unanswered, so with that said, BE CAREFUL what you pray for!!!!! 😐

4-Ask for help

If your husband refuses to go to couples’ counseling as mine did, go by yourself. Remember, you can’t make him do something, but don’t let him stop you from doing something either. Don’t let him stop you from doing and being your absolute best. Do not wait for him. Go to church without him. Many a times I went to church alone. I ended up having to drive myself because he would blatantly do things to make us late so we’d miss church. Oh, the gas tank is empty, I forgot to tell you, Sarah. Woops, that gas station isn’t open, let’s try another gas station, maybe they’ll be open. Wow, that gas station is really busy, la la la, let’s take our sweet time. Hopefully we’ll get there before service is over. Yeah, true stories here! I know how frustrating it can be, but God doesn’t leave us alone to deal with these things by ourselves. He provides a church, a family for us to be a part of.

5- God is refining YOU

Outside of having the worst husband in the world, I quickly learned that it wasn’t about him. It wasn’t about how HE wasn’t measuring up to God’s standards. Every day as I prayed God would save him and save me from the situation, I learned how to hold my tongue more. I learned how NOT to react when he pushed my buttons. I learned how to be strong in faith, lean on the Lord for wisdom, understanding, and faith. I tell you the truth, I learned more in those 4 years and I grew more in those 4 years than any other time in my life.

Why? Because I needed the Lord so desperately just to get through the day…every day. I couldn’t go one day without being in prayer all day, one day without reading my Bible. Now, it’s easy to find myself too busy or forgetful to do the most important thing in the world, cultivate that relationship with the One that loves me more than anyone else on the planet. Refining of a jewel only comes from fire. Burning off those impurities, dirt, etc. If you’re a new Christian, you will realize in your life as you look back, that the times you learned the most and grew the most in the Lord, was when you were under the most fire you’ve had in your life. The times that are the most difficult for you.

Don’t give up. Don’t lose faith. Don’t lose hope. God is refining you and you will look back and realize it was worth it. Those Hellish last 4 years of my life, I’d do all over again if it meant that I could be there to truly help just one person who is going through it now. And God is using that, my situation, and me to help others around the globe just like you. He will use you too, if you let Him.