"He doesn't get me! He hates my music, won't go to church, and we have nothing in common. How is this marriage supposed to work?" She wept as she bared her soul. "No one understands this loneliness. No one!"
As a life coach, women invite me into their struggle. Little did my new client know she had just entered mine. I can understand the depth of her pain because I, too, love a man who does not love my Lord.
New faith, new struggles
Thirteen years into our marriage, I accepted Christ. As of yet, my husband has not acknowledged his need for a Savior. He believes there is a God and resents being labeled an "unbeliever," but he thinks I've taken "this thing" way too far. My passion to follow Jesus seems to have led us down different paths, and we both admit that the spiritual chasm in our marriage has caused tension. Yet, I also know the Spirit has come to comfort and guide me in ways I never thought possible.
When I became a Christian, my life changed. I listened to different music, made new friends, spent Sundays at church and evenings in Bible study. Suddenly I wasn't the woman he had signed up to marry! In addition, I claimed to love someone else—Jesus—and to my husband this new love seemed like a real threat.
Looking back, I see times when Scott felt abandoned and when his justifiable feelings of jealousy and rejection were projected as resentment and silence. My desire for him to follow me into this new life actually pushed us farther apart. And in my own lonely, empty places, I began to lose respect for my husband.
Take the initiative
Yet if I was lonely, how much more lonely was Scott? In the midst of my divine ache, I turn to Scripture, worship, godly friendships, and prayer—but where can he turn? If I am the Christian, shouldn't I be the one who reaches out to him?
For those of us in spiritually mismatched marriages, we are called to be the one to take the initiative toward strengthening the marriage. If we are honest, our battles are often with our own pride. In fact, sometimes we may even use God as an excuse not to change.
In 29 years of marriage, I've spent 16 years pursuing Christ, but only the last 6 years pursuing my husband. My eyes have been opened to see Scott in the same way God must have seen me: a lost soul in need of his grace. It hasn't been easy and I certainly don't profess to have all the answers, but through learning God's Word and wise counsel, I've come to a place of renewed love and respect for my husband. After years of trying to change him, I realized it wasn't Scott who needed to change—it was me! I've made many mistakes along the way, but I've also learned some valuable lessons.