Six years ago, a devout Catholic girl married an atheist. She knew the road she was embarking on wasn’t going to be easy. She knew that there were going to be struggles when it came to raising children to be followers of Christ while her husband made statements like, “You’re forcing religion upon them,” and, “They need to understand that Christianity is the biggest con ever.”
I know that these are terrible things to hear; they are all things that this girl knew before marrying her Prince Charming at 23 years old. She made sure that her soon-to-be husband signed a “contract” making it clear that their children would be raised Catholic and that he wouldn’t argue with her about it.
Many of this girl’s friends could not understand why she would even marry him. He was a great man, loving and caring – no one argued about that. He would do anything and everything for his bride, but he couldn’t be convinced that Jesus was real. He wasn’t raised in a church-going home, and he had no concept of why Christianity was so important.
So what was this girl to do? The only thing she could do, the thing that she had been taught as the only way to really find peace – pray.
She prayed every chance she got.
“Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior.” (I Peter 3:1-2)
She knew that in order for her husband to come to Christ, she wasn’t going to be able to preach the Gospel or “talk the talk.” She had to “walk the walk” herself.
In case you haven’t already figured it out, the girl in this story is me. My husband is one of the greatest men that I have ever had the honor of having in my life. Many people thought we wouldn’t last – a Catholic girl that goes to church on Sundays, reads the Bible daily, and prays before every meal and bedtime, and an atheist?!
Yep, I most certainly did, and today I can tell you that my husband is one of the most God-fearing men on this planet. He attends church on Sundays, prays with our children before bedtime, prays with me, and loves to ask me questions about faith.
You see, before I walked down the aisle and married my hubs, I prayed a lot. I truthfully didn’t know if I was making a mistake or not. We so desperately want to get this whole marriage thing right that we often forget that marriage isn’t just between two people that love each other – it’s about two people and their faith in God.
I knew before I walked down the aisle on that hot July day in Georgia that my soon-to-be husband was everything God wanted for me. I didn’t know how we were going to work it all out, but with my faith in God, I put one foot in front of the other and held on tight to my Daddy’s arm as we walked towards the man that would somehow provide the life I had yet to imagine.
I never once forced my faith on my husband, even though there were many, many times that I was tempted to. I knew that if I did, he’d run in the other direction and wouldn’t hear a word that I had said anyway. I would just be pushing him further and further away.
1 Peter 3:1-2 says it all, in my opinion, because my husband’s biggest complaint about “religion” was that people would “beat their Bibles and tell you how to live, but they were some of the worst people” he had ever met. That’s how I knew talking about my faith wasn’t going to fly with him. I had to actually act like God’s daughter and not just say I was.
Actions speak louder than words.
Wives, when you’re dealing with an unequally yoked marriage – one believes while the other doesn’t, or one’s faith is stronger than the other’s – I encourage you to live out what you preach. Pray the Scriptures and allow God to tell you what to do and say. If we want to have a great marriage in Christ, we first have to have a great relationship with Him.
I’m a firm believer that the greatest marriages recognize there is something more powerful at play in their lives than each other. Knowing that my husband is just as much God’s son as I am His daughter, reminds me constantly that I must forgive and give grace to my husband when something goes wrong. It reminds us of our commitment to live through life together.
Do you have an unequally yoked marriage? What advice can you give to those struggling to find peace?
Jessi Fearon is the founder of the popular personal finance blog The Budget Mama, where she shares her family’s real life on a budget in all its gory details. She believes that money is a tool that should be used to help us live our best lives possible and she is an advocate of achieving financial freedom by helping her readers learn how to manage their money. She and her husband, Pat, live with their children in Georgia.