My Husband Doesn’t Share My Faith

Written by Nancy Kennedy

doesntsharefaithI’ve rehearsed this scene in my mind 10,000 times: My husband, Barry, walks through the front door and says he has a surprise for me. He asks, “What’s the one thing you want most in the world?” At first I’m confused, but when I look into his eyes, I know. He doesn’t have to say it, but he does anyway: “I’ve given my life to Christ.”

But after years of praying, waiting, and hoping, so far that’s still a daydream.

Barry and I met and married 28 years ago. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing: He liked my then-red hair and green eyes; I liked his broad shoulders and sense of humor. Plus, he was easy to talk to. As unbelievers, neither of us had a clue what our future would be. We just thought a life together would be a kick. A relationship with Christ was the last thing on our minds!

Our first three years of marriage were filled with partying, softball, and the birth of our first daughter. Then, almost without warning, God drew me into a relationship with himself. After overhearing some Christians in the office where I worked talk about heaven, I began asking questions. Although I’d attended church as a child, I knew nothing about the Bible and salvation. Then one day after a long talk with Rita, one of my coworkers, I prayed a simple prayer: “Jesus save me!” That prayer forever changed my life—and my marriage as I knew it.

I wrote the handbook on how not to win your spouse to Christ

Unfortunately for Barry, right from the start I was one of those obnoxious “Jesus freaks.” I didn’t share my new faith with my husband; I pushed, forced, and shoved. Believe me, I wrote the handbook on how not to win your spouse to Christ. I didn’t speak, I preached. I didn’t live out my faith quietly; I trumpeted my every minute change. I’d say, “See what God’s done in my life? See how loving and humble I now am?” I prayed loudly in Barry’s presence and made sure he knew he was a sinner destined for hell. I even packed gospel tracts in his lunch and added a Bible verse at the end of all my love notes to him.

To Barry’s credit, he remained incredibly patient. (Maybe he was just tuning me out.) Most of the time he avoided my religious rampages by tinkering with our car. Sometimes, though, he’d get angry and yell, “Stop with all the Jesus stuff!” Barry told me he threw the gospel tracts away because they embarrassed him in front of his friends. Once in a while he’d get a pained look on his face and say he wanted his “old wife” back—Jesus-free.

Soon we were at odds with each other. I blamed any and all our marital problems on his unsaved status. After all, if we were both Christians, life would be “happy-ever-after.” Or so I imagined. I tried even harder: blasting my Christian music and scattering opened Bibles around the house; crying and pleading with him to go to church with me. Sometimes, Barry would go. But instead of enjoying him next to me in church, I’d sit there chewing nervously on the end of my pen, praying madly that this would be The Day. Afterwards, I’d quiz him in the car, “What did you think of the sermon? Did you like the music?”

“It was okay,” he’d say. “Do we have any turkey at home for a sandwich?”

The rest of the ride home, I’d sit and fight back either tears or angry words. Why couldn’t he see his need for Christ? I’d fume. Then Barry, sensing my disappointment, would pat my shoulder and say, “Look, I believe in God, but not in the same way you do.” That was not the answer I wanted to hear.

Intercessory prayer — the right way

Then something unexpected happened. I’d been reading a book about intercessory prayer when I had a sudden flash of insight. I told myself, That’s it! I’m going to pray for Barry for the next 80 years, if that’s what it takes. And I’m going to love him. Period.

That was 25 years ago—and I’m still praying and loving. But I’m no longer pining away in self-absorbed isolation waiting desperately for my husband’s salvation to bring marital fulfillment. Instead, I’ve decided that if it takes 80 years, then I want those years to be as enjoyable as possible for the both of us, despite our spiritual differences.

When I first came to faith in Christ and Barry hadn’t, I thought God had made a huge mistake. After all, two following God together made more sense than one. But I now know God never makes mistakes. Since I’d been an unbeliever when we married, I hadn’t willfully disobeyed God by marrying Barry. My situation is by God’s sovereign design. Reminding myself of that enables me to relax my spiritual chokehold on Barry.

The way I see it, God has a plan for each life. And no matter how hard I try, I cannot transform someone else’s heart. I can’t coerce, sweet-talk, or plead my husband into being a Christian. In fact, when I do try, it only drives him away—sometimes literally. If I start nagging him, he’ll get in his truck and drive for hours.

I decided long ago to accept that it’s God’s job to change hearts. That decision frees me to pursue my relationship with God without the added burden of having to bring my husband to faith. All I have to do is love and enjoy him. That’s God’s plan for me, and he gives me all the grace I need to accomplish it.

That doesn’t mean I’m not lonely at times or that I do everything right. The other day I grabbed Barry by the shirt and yelled, “Don’t you see Christ in me?” Struck by the irony of the question, he laughed—and to my surprise, said yes. It helps to remember that Barry’s not my enemy; he’s my husband. I’m just as much a sinner as he is—maybe more so because I have the power to say no to sin and often don’t.

When your loved one doesn’t love God

Here are a few things I’ve learned over these 20-plus years

  1. Live in the now. I don’t pine for a “happy-ever-after someday.” Instead, I accept things as they are, building on what’s good (such as enjoying each other’s company and planning for our future together), and praying about what’s not so good. Sometimes that means going into a bar with Barry and having a good time drinking a soda—and letting him know I love him just as he is. It’s what Jesus would do.
  2. Live honestly. In living out my faith, I let my husband see me stumble and struggle. He knows I struggle with fear, that I can’t pass a basket in a store without buying it, and that I sin regularly and often, yet desire not to. That way, he sees that a Christian’s life is one of grace alone, rather than living by a set of rigid rules. Any changes in me aren’t by my effort, but by Christ living in me.
  3. Honor your marriage. I’m careful not to talk negatively about Barry to anyone, and when he’s home, he’s my priority. This often means passing up social events I dearly want to attend. I seek opportunities to enjoy my husband and build him up, convinced he’s God’s gift to me.
  4. Pray, pray, pray. Prayer is my link to God’s presence, power, wisdom, and comfort. My favorite Scripture to pray is Ezekiel 36:26, that God will take Barry’s heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. Another favorite is Isaiah 30:21: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Although it’s hard to pinpoint specific answers to prayer for Barry, I’ve seen his attitude toward spiritual things change drastically over the years. We often talk openly and freely about God.
  5. Find a support system. Surround yourself with other women who’ll pray with and for you. Also, study the Bible with a friend or small group. Attend church as often as you are able.
  6. Never give up hope. God offers everyone the same gift of salvation and eternal life. Some choose to accept it, and others don’t. But all who accept the gift do so in God’s timing, not ours. God knows what he’s doing.

I don’t understand why God does what he does. We have two daughters who don’t have the role model of a Christian husband and father. I used to worry about that. As it’s turned out, each daughter gave her life to Christ as a preschooler. Alison, now married, lives out her faith with a believing husband, while Laura’s going through a time of teenage rebellion—but even that’s in God’s hands. As evidenced throughout the Bible, God is in the habit of saving families. That gives me great hope.

Trusting God while you wait

Even so, sometimes I get discouraged. Sometimes I sit in my brown armchair and question whether God even hears my prayers. Or I sit in church and count the couples and ache because few know what my husband even looks like. Or I’ll hear yet another testimony about someone else’s husband coming to faith, and wonder why mine still seems oblivious to his need. But then there are times when Barry exhibits greater faith than I do. In fact, that’s a joke we share. I’m the one who says I have faith, while he’s the one who seems to live it.

He’s always telling me, “Why do you worry about things? God always takes care of us.” Barry almost always knows the right thing to do when it comes to leading our family. I believe that because God sees us as one flesh, my husband shares in my blessings. Because God’s promised to lead me, he leads my husband as well. I don’t have to fret. God’s in control.

The truth is, I might not ever see Barry walk a church aisle, but that’s okay. I have hope that I’ll see him walk through heaven. In the meantime, I live my life as a gift—one I never would have chosen, but one I’ve come to accept with gratitude. I know it comes from the hand of a loving God who only gives his children the best.

Related reading:
The Spirit-Filled Life: The first step to living a full Christian life is to let God’s Spirit work in you.
Talk to a mentor: If you need someone to talk to, contact us anytime. It’s free and confidential.

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408 Responses to “My Husband Doesn’t Share My Faith”

  • Caitlyn says:

    I love that I have stumbled upon this. I am going through a similar situation myself and reading this has made me feel so much better. I met my boyfriend while I was backsliding in my faith, in the midst of us talking I decided to rebuild my relationship with Christ, and all in all he has been quite supportive of my spiritual growth, but he tells me “I hope you don’t get too upset with me, not ready to get into that yet, I am just not there yet”
    He believes in God, but he also wants answers to a lot of the questions that pretty much cannot be answered, something that you would just let God and faith take over and trusting his will.
    I would love nothing more than to be standing in the worship center with him, with our hands towards the Heavens, praising God in all his glory, but at this point, it is just me.. Reading this has given me hope and understanding of how HE feels, and I am going to be there for him, just as he is for me.. Thank you for this! God Bless

  • Julia says:

    I am pretty much going through this same situation now. My fiance doesn’t have the same faith in God as I do. I was struggling internally wondering if I should stay in a relationship with a person that seems to be a “non-believer.” I came across this website and read the story above and it has made me feel so much better about my situation. Before I got into a relationship with my fiance, I believed in God but was a perpetual sinner. It took a life altering situation for me to submit my life to God, therefore I believe I need to be a little patient with my fiance. I just need to pray for him and hope that God touches his heart and changes his life so he too can become a believer. Thank you for writing this article, it’s helped me see my situation in a different light.

  • Becca says:

    I’ve been with my husband since 19 yrs old. I’m turning 29 this year. We both were raised exactly alike very strict christian parents faithfully in church etc. He even attended Christian school all his life even college. However we both started living secular lifestyles and rebelled against what we were taught. Which is how we met actually. We conceived all our kids in sin and lives and survived in sin. He never would marry me despite us living in sin. 3 years ago I put my foot down saying I needed a change and wanted to do right in the eyes of the lord and I could no longer live together in married. I thought it was my time to separate from
    Him and as much as I didn’t want it I wanted to follow God more. He had been so stubborn about marriage I thought it was my only way to follow God. However to my surprise when he saw I was serious and trying to break it off he humbled completely and began to be God fearing again go to church and bible studies and even MARRY ME! I could not believe it! He really loved by that and we were best friends again like old times but we had GOD! It couldn’t get any better. Yet recently he has slipped completely away from God I thought it was a faze but no he is more in love with sin than ever and he says it too. Meanwhile God is drawing me closer to him. I am changing and can’t help it. God is renewing me and I want him too. Yet I e become my husbands worst enemy. Simply because I exist. Simply because I am not the old me and I believe in the word of God and want to have a life that way for myself and the kids and he just doesn’t. He wants me to be me and him him. Which I hate but I won’t fight him to the lord. God gave ME freedom in sin and I can’t take that right from God when it comes to my husband. However I’m drowning in sorrow here. He’s my best friend in the whole world and he feels I’ve completely betrayed him. He truly believes I’ve left planet earth and I won’t hold the burdens of the world with him. And I do! My heart breaks for him. Yet how can I be burdened the same as we use to be when I am free through Jesus? I can’t help it that I’m not afraid when we can’t pay the bills, I dk what to do? I try to tell him comforting things like the lord will provide and not to worry but he gets really really angry with me. Even when I’m soft spoken and don’t fight or even speak. He says God won’t send Ravens from the sky to help us. Although I figure he might not I also believe with all my heart he could if he wanted too and he will help us and not leave us. We don’t talk now and he hates every thing about me. I’m not arguing or anything I’m simply loving Jesus and my worst enemy is in my own home with a husband who was raised to know better. I am attacked to my core daily and I’m so so sad.

  • Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Hi Theresa and Cathy, What an amazing number of posts there are on this page. I see you both have vaguely similar problems and believe it or not, they both come from the same source, the enemy, satan; As the Bible says, he is a liar, deceiver and murderer and one of his main aims is to destroy marriages and families, particularly Christian ones. No matter who we marry, when or why, if we are believers, God will use us but we need to be on our guard and not use our own wisdom or discernment. We get His way through studying His word and putting it into practice and as one of you said, it is not by force but by loving, caring, understanding behaviour. I speak to myself here because even as a mature Christian, I sometimes get deceived into saying the worn thin and in a disagreeable way, even making excuses for myself. We are truly in a spiritual mine field. I do encourage you sisters in Christ to have the same mind in you as did Jesus who though being in the very form of God, humbled himself. We need to be humble witnesses to others of our gracious Lord in everything we do and say. I find this is only possible in the power of the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to direct my every thought and word. Blessings to all who read this site and may God fill you full of His grace.

  • Christian says:

    My hubby and I got married in 2010 in a Catholic Church, although very non-active. I had a horrible relationship with God. My dad died last year and I got baptized in September of last year. So did my husband. Well, he complains nearly every week about going to church and bible study. He says that I am turning too Christian for him. I told him I feel at peace and whatever happens, happens and I won’t worry. Tired of worrying about him and convincing him that God does exist and answers our prayers. Tired of making him be a positive person. We will see what happens. If it’s God’s will, my marriage will be saved.

  • Ursula says:

    Hi Cryssi,
    I understand that you get sad at times,that your fiance does not share your beliefs.I have been married for almost 22 years and my husband is slowly but surely surrenderi.g to the lordship of Jesus Christ.I encourage you to build your personal relationship with Jesus.This christian walk ha. NOTHING TO DO WITH RELIGION,but it is a relationship with the person Jesus Christ. My life made a major turn when I made a choice to complety follow him.As you stay focused on obeying his voice and fullfill Gods purpose and plan for YOUR life,the joy of the Lord will sustain you.As you draw closer to him,the Lord will show you how to comunicate with your fiance and will allow you to be a witness to him.Please seek the Lord before you get married…..

  • B says:

    I am so glad I found this article.

    I have been married going on 11 yrs. My husband and I were Christians when we got married. I just found out last week that he is agnostic. I knew there was a change over the past couple of yrs, but I didn’t know his faith had changed.

    Ive always wanted a family with the husband and wife as a union serving Christ. This is how we married, and I never thought it would change. He now wants children, and If I don’t then he wants a divorce. We are in out mid 30’s. I am so heart broken and confused. He believes in raising the kids with the Bible as a guide, and he will attend church for the kiddos. But if they have questions he will answer honestly. Once they are old enough, then he will be more open about his beliefs….

    I am hurting and confused.

  • Cryssi says:

    I have been with my.fiance for 6 years now. We got engaged in early 2013 and then in mid 2014 I got baptized. He grew up in a Christian home and he even was baptized. Now he’s no longer religious. He believes in God but not religion. My pastor says I sanctify him and all but I can’t help but feel.sad sometimes

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