When Your Husband Derides Your Faith

In response to a recent post of mine entitled When You Love Someone Who Doesn’t Love Christ, a woman wrote me the following heartbreaking letter:

John,

I don’t believe that I happened across your blog by accident. I’m fairly new to the Christian journey, being a “recovering Catholic.” When my husband and I got married eight years ago, Christ was not a strong presence in either of our lives. Things have changed for me, but not my husband. We have two sons now, and I have found a wonderful church home, where the boys and I go every week. My husband has made it clear that he doesn’t want go to church, and every week makes jokes about me “praying for the sinners.” My heart is so torn. My older son LOVES going to church, and begs to stay for both services every week. My toddler loves the attention he receives in the nursery. Lately, our pastor has been preaching that if we are not really considering and confronting our own hearts and lives, we are just living on the surface, gasping for breath. This is exactly how I feel–and it means that I tend to pull back and guard my heart very carefully. I want so much to be able to fully live in Christ in every part of my life, but am at a loss. I’m open to any thoughts or suggestions.

I answered her the following—which I present here in the hope that it might help any woman who finds herself facing the same dilemma:

What a difficult situation. I am of course almost loathe to give any advice at all, being as far removed as I am from the principal and necessarily complex dynamics at work here.

That your husband doesn’t share your faith isn’t necessarily a problem; that he’s being disrespectful of your faith is. That needs to stop happening. For whatever it’s worth, my opinion is that you should sit your husband down, make sure you’ve got his full, undivided attention, and say to him (something like) this:

“It really hurts me that you belittle the faith that means so much to both me and the kids. I don’t mind if you don’t want to come to church with us, but it’s like a knife in my heart when you make disparaging comments about the fact that we do go to church. My religion means a lot to me—more than I could possibly say. It’s vital to my heart: it keeps me feeling positive, and well, and up to the tasks of life. It makes me a better, more loving, more thoughtful, stronger person all around. And it’s fantastic for the kids. You know how the world is out there; Christianity and the church is probably saving the lives of our sons.

“You’re my husband; I love you with all my heart. I just don’t want your support; I need your support. You don’t have to come to church with me (though of course I’d love you to—and it does hurt my feelings a little that you won’t at all), but you do need to stop being so blatantly disrespectful of the fact that I and the boys do go to church. I wouldn’t do that to you if our roles were reversed; I consider it fundamental to our relationship that I support you in the things that you do–especially in the good, healthy things that you do. You need to do the same for me. You need to take seriously the things that I take seriously. It’s not fair of you to make fun of something just because it doesn’t work for you. It does work for me, and I need you to at the very least be grateful that it does.”

Say something like that. Be open, honest, strong and loving. Again, I hesitate to really have any thought at all about two people I don’t know––but, going in, I’d venture to say that if you say something like the above to your husband, and he doesn’t immediately quit with the obnoxious comments, you’ve got a real problem on your hands. Because that means you’re married to a boy, instead of a man.

I’ll bet he hears you, though. Men have a different take on humor than women, sometimes. We men tend to be … crude, in that way: We use humor and sarcasm so often—so almost instinctively––that we sometimes forget how our words can at times truly sting. Certainly too often I think I’m “just” being funny—when in fact I’m hurting my wife’s feelings. So I monitor that. I’m sure your husband will, too, once he realizes the pain his words are causing you.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Ha! Funny! (Um. Basically.) But, yeah, I didn't actually mean that she should, like, just READ what I've said here, or anything. I only meant (and perhaps should have been more clear about only having meant) that in GENERAL that's what she might want to consider communicating to her husband. (Hence my "Like that.") You know: That she would sort of GRAZE through that, and get out of it what might work for her. Cuz, yeah, like you say: all of that at once COULD be a bit of a … giant speech.

    I am pro-Giant Speeches, though, generally. My wife delivers them. When she has some Big Point she wants to make, she really MAKES it. She gets very reasonable, and thoughtful, and thorough. It's like being married to … Abe Lincoln. But … prettier.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    This is too funny.

  • http://360.yahoo.com/skerrib Kerri B

    Hear hear, John. If I might add my two cents…that depending on her husband’s personality and relationship skills, her first approach could be more condensed. For example, the next time he makes a snarky remark, simply responding with, “You know, it really hurts my feelings when you say things like that.”

    If he is like some people I know (ahem!), starting with the whole thing would be entirely too threatening…but hopefully giving him a simple statement to chew on could lead into the conversation you described.

    I wouldn’t know though, because my husband and I never say unkind things to each other, deliberately or not…nope, no issues here!!

  • http://360.yahoo.com/skerrib Kerri B

    Interestingly enough, my husband and I are pro-Giant Speeches too; however, in a cruel and ironic twist, we are also pro-roll-our-eyes-at-said-Giant-Speeches. Too tragic. =)

  • nisperos

    The back and forth here is "too funny" in the reading. Thanks for the posts!

    Still, to read about this woman's experience is tragic, and heartbreaking. She'll certainly be in my thoughts and prayers.

    In whatever way she can reach her hubby, small doses or giant-speeches, I wish he could find some way to go to church with his wife and kids.

    Although it's less than ideal, it's OK if he doesn't go, but he ought to try and make an effort to support what his family is doing.

    The kids needs are, in most cases, more important than the needs of either adult. There is something which is fundamentally gained, or, value-added if you will, from simply having the structure, routine, and self discipline provided by church going, before you even get to the content. Furthermore, the love or lack there of between parents does affect kids.

    I wish I had a better more gentler way to say this, but the bottom line is that our faith is in Jesus Christ, not in our interpretation of the Bible, our favorite church, or favorite preacher. "Recovering Catholic" or otherwise, if hubby was raised Catholic, or a specific Protestant religion, and would be willing to actually go with his family to church if he could choose where, even if he's "just doing it for the sake of the kids", I think that would be better than the current impasse.

    If hubby wishes to stay at home, then he should be supportive and enthusiastic of the activities of his family, especially the kids, to the point of letting the kids tell him their stories of what happened at church — what the kids want to tell him, not something which the kids are put up to saying to dad. If he's staying at home, he might spend the time getting ready or setting up a family activity for after everyone gets home from church. And, it the same way that dad is making the effort to be supportive, the spouse could also try to show enthusiasm and "get into" whatever dad has set up — even if it's not her favorite thing or even close.

    The actions portrayed to the kids speak much louder than any message…

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Exactly right. Beautiful. I hope she and/or her husband read this.

  • http://www.aajesus.org Joe Black

    I agree with the suggestion of sitting down with your husband and talking with him. From my own experience, I can tell you my mother became a Christian from a catholic background, she then brought us children to the Christian church as well, which we enjoyed a lot. My father resisted and I am sure joked about things in a fashion that was not nice. As a result he then went back to his catholic roots which he had been ignoring for years and forced all of us to go with him, which none of us children liked. After a year or so my father decided that he would go and check out this new Christian church that my mother and us children were attending. The first night he had his eyes opened, became born again and started living a Christian life. Since then he has not looked back. All of this took place more than 20years ago now. I believe that it was the fervent prayer of my mother and also her actions that fall in accordance with 1 Peter 3:(nasb)

    1."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,

    2. as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior "

    All people are disobedient to the word when they firstly do not follow Christ and secondly when they do not follow the scripture whole heartedly. But we can win peoples souls to Christ by the manner in which we live our lives, like the scriptures says " be Holy, for I am Holy" 1 Peter 1:16. And in this world that we live in there is an even greater need for us to live Holy lives according to the word of God.

    http://www.aajesus.org

  • Becca

    I can so relate to this woman's dilemma cause I have lived it. I became a christian 12 years ago and made the mistake of requiring my husband to come to church with me. He came a few times but then stated he was a catholic and would only attend a catholic church which of course never did because he was not a practicing catholic. He then began to berate me for my faith and I basically told him as Kerry B stated, "It hurts my feelings when you talk to me that way about my faith and besides it helps me to be a better wife and mother." That's all it took and he stopped with all the negative comments. My husband has not fully embraced Christ but I know that he (my husband) is watching my walk and I'm convinced that God is doing a work in his heart. I have had the opportunity to pray and read the bible with my husband upon his request, of course, and those moments are so precious. Also, never stop praying for them.

  • http://www.crosswalk.com Lisa P

    I had left a comment to "Saved in a Supply Closet…" and felt compelled to continue reading more of John's blogs…what a salve to my grieving heart they are, and not only his words but the words of his readers. I had to compose myself before writing as I was overcome with emotion, first by realizing – I am not alone. and second – that the Good Lord is strengthening my resolve and my very faith in the relationship I described earlier. If John finds himself moved to respond to me or my situation, I want to clarify that I am not living with or continuing intimate relations with this gentleman. This has caused a deep divide between us. He has stated that he feels sex is an important part of a relationship whether the couple is married or not, I disagree. My indescetion at the beginning of our relationship was mine and mine alone and I in no way accuse him of 'leading me astray' only of leading me to believe something that eventually I saw as not true – his stated desire to marry me.

    Still, he will not break up with me, yet does tend to be discouraging and rude on occasion. I do feel genuine love for this man and in other areas of our lives we do have strong connections. I appreciate the advice given here and will pray for Gods will in my life and how to effectively convey my beliefs and convictions with him.

    I did not dwelve into the complexities of my relationship earlier, but feel it's important to note that I do have four sons from my previous marriage, whose father is completely out of the picture. The man I am currently involved with has expressed a desire to be more fully involved in their lives but feels he deserves more authority to dicipline them. I consider myself to be a strict yet loving mom. I've been complimented on their behavior. they are polite, do well in school and are helpful around the house and with each other. Like most boys they are physically active and this seems to be a problem with this man. I have expressed that because he is not my husband and does not spend the amount of time with them that a father (or a man married to their mother would) that it is confuing for them to have him come into the house demanding that they no longer, sing, dance and joke around as they do with me. Singing and dancing is a large part of our worship to God and so this feels like an additional restriction on my and the children's faith. Forgive me, I'm sure I could just write for hours. Thank you so much for giving me space to express these concerns. I am open to any and all advice….Lisa

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Of course, I know NOTHING, really, about your situation. But–just from what little you've here said–it sounds like you'd do well to maybe shift this guy all the way out of your life. But of course only you'd really know if he's truly as big a pain as he seems to be from what you've said here.

    Here's the thing about advice, though: The very best of it is invariably stuff you already know anyway. You know what's best for you. You know what's best for your kids. You know that "all" you really have to do is focus on, and concentrate upon, what the Holy Spirit within you says to you. Trust that. Put ALL your personal power behind that. Don't waver from it; don't question it; don't modify it. Just, as they say, do it.

  • Rhi

    I am in a similiar situation. I am engaged and have been for the last 2 years. Earlier this year, I was born again. And I mean I really threw myself, immersed myself in all things Jesus. It felt so good and I just assumed that my man would be thrilled about my newfound faith and be more than happy to join me. I know that he has always loved the Lord so it never crossed my mind that he would be opposed to church, etc. However, his outlook on his faith turned out to be different from mine. He feels that he doesn't need to go to church to worship the Lord (which I sort of agree with, but even if someone doesn't feel its necessary, it doesn't hurt anything to go at least every now and then with me!) and he doesn't understand why I pray all the time. He basically feels that God already knows his heart and his thoughts so there is no reason to be so immersed in Christianity.

    At first, I tried shoving it down his throat…sending him devotionals all the time and constantly making comments about what he should be doing. However, any wise woman knows that when you try to shove something down a man's throat that he doesn't want to hear, he will only push it away even more and become bitter towards that thing. So, I had to change my approach. I began, or should I say am beginning (because it is still a process) to step back and let God do the work. I just have to pray that God will place a hand on the shoulder of my love and draw him closer. I have to pray for the day when my man will say to me "Babe, let's go to church this morning." I have to pray and already believe that God will reach out to him and then just wait for that day.

    My fiance nevers gives me problems or makes rude comments about my faith, but the fact that he doesn't join in does affect me. On a lazy Sunday, I am more likely to stay in bed and cuddle with him instead of getting up to go to church on my own. However, that is something I need to work on within myself and is something I need to pray for the strength and dedication to overcome.

    This woman will be in my prayers…. She is a strong woman for going it alone and making sure her kids get to church. I would encourage her to pray for her husband and faithfully wait for the day…

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Wow. Fascinating stuff. Compelling dynamic! Sounds like you're doing a great job of flowing with it, rather than trying to engineer into something it might not yet be ready to be. Good job.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Lisa: I’m afraid I have a less … tolerant attitude toward the guy in your life than does Rhi. I don’t like the fact that he’s mean to your kids–that he dares to assert that he “deserves” authority to discipline them. That sets off every alarm bell, to me. That says–that screams–danger. Alarm. Run.

  • Geoff

    This article has hit me hard. I have been in a committed relationship with a wonderful beautiful Christain woman for a year now. She is strong in her faith, I am not so strong and thus Satan has his fun with me. This July 3rd I blew it big time with my girlfriend. I disrespected her by saying some harsh accusations that were not true at all. I hurt her deeply by this. She now wants to break up with me. I've apologized several times to her and asked for her forgiveness and told her that this kind of thinking will not occur again. She now needs time to think over all this. All I can do now is pray that God will keep us together and help me to be a stronger Christian to withstand the temptations that come across my path. I love her so much and do not want to lose her.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    You sound to me like a pretty seriously dedicated Christian.

    Want some advice? Great! Figure out WHY you said whatever you said–and then go to her with that. It's one thing to just say, "I'm sorry; it won't happen again." It's another to do the emotional work necessary to understand what compelled you to say whatever you did–and to then go to the person you hurt, and say, "I have this weakness. It comes from this emotional thing or truth I have in my life. It's grounded in this event or dynamic in my past. It's left me frightened in this way. My saying that to you was a response to THAT, not because I really thought what I said. I apologize for not ferreting out this weakness of mine before it hurt you. It's because it caused me THIS much damage–it's because it's hurt something so precious to me–that I knew I had to get to the bottom of it. I have. This troubling thing is gone–because now I understand it, now I've shined the light of day on it. All I can do is ask you to trust that because of what I'm telling you know, it WON'T happen again."

    You know? Like that.

  • erika

    Lisa,

    Just want you to know that I am going to pray for you. You are absolutely right in making it known that discipling your children is your responsibility-anything otherwise will cause rebelliousness and friction as this person is NOT as involved a "parent" as you would want him to be. Still, I have to wonder why you are in a relationship that seems to threaten the spiritual walk of yours and your children. The word of the Lord says to be "equally yoked".

    2Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrightousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

  • Brenda

    One of many things I’ve learned during my walk towards a closer relationship with Christ is that it can be a difficult and sometimes lonely transition. Many people in my life, including my husband resisted the changes I was making in my life and I received criticism, lost friends and eventually my marriage ended as well.

    As human beings we cling to our sin, because it is what we know, we get comfort from it and even when a newly saved person in our lives does not “shove it down our throats” it can feel that way. I was told by one good friend that she didn’t want to stop what she was doing even though she admired the changes in me-she couldn’t be apart of that part of me. Our relationship is not the same. I thought that my husband and I was on the same walk towards Christ only to learn that he doesn’t believe in Christ at all. I was so hurt by the admission (during divorce proceedings) and realized that I knew all along the man he was, but because “I loved him” married and regretted my choice. I didn’t pray for my potential mate, or that he would be a man of God/Christian man but I prayed for my husband and our marriage once I understood where we were headed. It was difficult living on opposite sides of faith. We shared a life for twenty five years. My true walk towards Christ began eight years ago. Our divorce will be final in August this year.

    I realized/learned too that sometimes in my humaness, I made emotional decisions and got myself in bad situations. The great thing though about God’s grace and mercy is that He will show us the way through it. Prayer, being still and receiving the lessons God needed me to learn, saved my spiritual and physical life and the lives of the children we share.

    God/Christ wants to be first in our lives, He wants us to come to Him before making all decisions and while that is still difficult for me I find that I don’t regret my decisions or have the doubts I did before. I pray before each difficult conversation, task, life change and find that God graces me with the right words and things work out for the best.

    All this was said to encourage you to pray, be still and allow God’s answer to come to you and you will make the right decision about how to speak to your husband, how to decide if a relationship is right for you and your children. It won’t be easy always, but God won’t leave you to handle it alone.

    Blessings

  • Rhi

    Lisa, I agree with John about the danger, alarm comment. My blog was referring to the letter John received in the very very beginning. But to me, yup sounds like the situation with this man and your kids is leading up to no good. Those are YOUR babies and what you say in your house regarding your children goes.

    Angelina, I want to thank you for your comments, your words are beautiful and so true. I feel a sense of renewed hope in my situation from your words.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Man alive, this is rich stuff, from all of you. Simply awesome. What good people.

  • Angelina

    My comment is to the woman that first responded to John’s first article, “how to love someone who doesn’t love Christ”. I pray this gives her hope. John if you have her personal email please email this to her…I know all to well her situation. Except mines is a little different. I also attend church faithfully and I guess I can be labled as having a baby Christian. I was drawned to Christ in the earlier years of my life but of course I backslide as I got older (I’d like to blame it on the lack of knowledge from not knowing the Word). Anyway, my husband is of different religion, he doesn’t practice his religion but he grew up as a Jehovah’s witness. So image that! When I started going to church again (which was after I got married by the way), I fell in love with everything that I was learning about God, I was so excited that I would tell my husband things..of course he rejected them, telling me that I am learning things that are not true, like, I can’t hear God’s voice, the Holy Spirit is not a person but an impersonal force, I’m praying to the devil, there’s no hell…and the list goes on. I was devasted, I was heartbroken, all I could do was cry, I even contemplated divorce because I felt like how is this going to work…But God is so amazing, so awesome, so merciful, so faithful, so loving, I realize that it was the enemy that was trying to confuse me….God institued marriage, I do not believe for one second that God would have brought us together in marriage to take us apart. Now, dot get me wrong, I’m not saying that anyone who gets married must stay together because God brought them together, that’s a whole other subject, but what I am saying is we didn’t have any issues that warranted divorce, such as physical or emotional abuse, or infideltly, simply religion….so what I did was I began to seek…I found this website called streamingfaith.com and posted a prayer request explaining my situation…I recieved about seven responses from other Christians inspiring me to just hang in their and contionously pray and talk to God about it…because He is truly the only one who can change her husband…Two of the posted responses on the website were from former Jehovah’s witness, they told me what their experiences was like in that religion and what brought them out…Other responses simply told me to pray about it, and simply love upon my husband, to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me in response to my husband. I did all of this I prayed continously to God (and still do), and I also look in the Word and found several scriptures that gave me hope such as 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is santctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean but now they are holy….But God has called us to peace. For how do you know O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know O husband, whether you will save your wife? (NKJV) And this save does not mean you have the power to give your husband salvation but through you actions by following God will, and utimately with love, and praying and believing in God for what you pray for without doubts, God can draw your husband to him. You are a living testimony to your husband about what you believe. I also understand that it is still hurtful but also understand that you are living according to the Spirit now your husband is not. You are in a whole other dimension than he is. Not to say that you are better because you are not but you have to have a clearer understanding of what is taking place. As John says yes, let him know that these things are hurting you. You know how best to communicate with your husband. Even if you don’t pray first and ask God to give you the words to say..He knows what is taking place in your home. Also remember He might not understand what is going now but remember you husband is watching your every move, the way you react to situations, the way you treat him now that you are saved, believe me he is watching, so be very careful. Continously pray for him, and stand strong in your faith..Get into the Word of God, this is what will help you the most…Here’s another Scripture 1 Peter 3:1-3 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your won husbands, that even if some do not obey the word they without a word, may be won by the conduct of thier wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. (NKJV) When I got back into church my husband vowed that he wouldn’t step foot into a church especially since this is strictly against Jehovah’s Witnesses religion but I fasted for 7 days for God to unharden by husband’s heart and use me or someone to drawn him near to Him. Not only was my husband pissed that I fasted my cell phone, and thought I was out of my mind, but on that 4th day, he apologize for the way he was acting and went to church with me. Hallelujah!! Praise God!!! Lastly all you can do is turn it over to the Lord, don’t try to teach your husband anything unless he asks. Let your conduct do the teaching, you will have to bite your tongue for a lot of things, but give all to God. Let the Lord know that you need Him to help you to give you more patience and understanding. Ask and you will recieved. I am a living testimony. Finally read the WORD, you can only fight the enemy with the WORD of God, and I’m not calling your husband the enemy but you can surely expect the enemy to try to use your husband against you. Forgive your husband for what he is doing, I’m not saying be passive, but forgive him, and let him know kindly that he is hurting you..and take it all to God. If you want to chat more please email me at laticeisone@aol.com. God bless you my sister! Be strong, you have the victory!

  • http://johnshore.wordpress Lisa P

    A sincere thank you to Rhi for her personal comments and all the other posters who have contributed a rich and insightful dialog to this obviously "It's not just me" subject…as John said earlier, of course I need to let the Holy Spirit guide me and reveal what God's will is in this relationship.

    As a believer I know that 'cockroach' Satan is gonna be slithering through my mind, making me question whether I'm doing right by my children or possibly denying them the opportunity to 'have a man' in the family. As I mentioned earlier I could literally write for hours of all the complexities of the relationship up to this point.

    I would not have allowed this gentleman into my and my childrens lives if I had not seen the possibility of a positive, strong role model in him. Sometimes I do wonder if it was simply my indiscretion that enabled him to step back and believe that perhaps marriage was no longer as neccessary as we both claimed in the beginning of our relationship.

    To his credit, despite his claim that sex is integral to a relationship whether the couple are married or not, he has respected the position that I do not share in that belief. Because we now have a child together the option to just seperate fully from him is not there. I just don't want to be blinded by his professions of love. I want to be sure that our love is right in God's eyes. I will continue to pray for discernment in this relationship and I ask you all to pray for me also, yours in Christ, Lisa

  • deb

    I've been saved for about 14 years and my husband is not a believer. It is an extremely difficult divide. I disagree with one of the other comments above and say that it is critical which church you attend. Be sure it is a solid Bible teaching church and that Jesus Christ is at the center of all that happens there. What the children learn while they grow up is vitally important to their lives and that they are saved is the most important thing. I think becoming a Proverbs 31 woman is key. God lays out clearly how a woman is to live. Study these passages in the Bible. I know negative comments are hurtful, and you can simply tell your husband your feelings get hurt, but do not take his critical or sarcastic comments personally. They may sting, but think about how Jesus lived and respond as He did. He was a suffering servant, He loves us and forgives us even though we crucified Him. It is our high calling as Christians to love others in difficult situations. A relationship with our Lord is the only way we can live this way. Apart from God there is no way that we can consistantly do it. Focus on the positive things about your husband – good provider, involved dad, etc. Encourage him in these things. Having the Fruits of the Spirit will make you hard to resist and be evidence that the power of God to change lives is real. Your husband will be won over without a word. Finally, stay close to God, pray and enjoy your family – they are a gift.

  • Determined Disciple

    I just love these words:

    1. "don’t try to teach your husband anything unless he asks. Let your conduct do the teaching, you will have to bite your tongue for a lot of things, but give all to God. Let the Lord know that you need Him to help you to give you more patience and understanding. Ask and you will receive. I am a living testimony. Finally read the WORD, you can only fight the enemy with the WORD of God, and I’m not calling your husband the enemy but you can surely expect the enemy to try to use your husband against you. Forgive your husband for what he is doing, I’m not saying be passive, but forgive him, and let him know kindly that he is hurting you..and take it all to God.

    2. "I think becoming a Proverbs 31 woman is key. God lays out clearly how a woman is to live. Study these passages in the Bible. I know negative comments are hurtful, and you can simply tell your husband your feelings get hurt, but do not take his critical or sarcastic comments personally. They may sting, but think about how Jesus lived and respond as He did. He was a suffering servant, He loves us and forgives us even though we crucified Him. It is our high calling as Christians to love others in difficult situations. A relationship with our Lord is the only way we can live this way. Apart from God there is no way that we can consistantly do it. Focus on the positive things about your husband – good provider, involved dad, etc. Encourage him in these things. Having the Fruits of the Spirit will make you hard to resist and be evidence that the power of God to change lives is real. Your husband will be won over without a word."

    I copied/pasted this advice from the two posters because as a writer and sometime-encourager of other women — and most especially, as a woman married to a man who professes himself to be a Christian without living like one — I want you ladies to know exactly what touched my spirit, and how deeply. This is advice that I will take to heart. I don't know if I could/should refer to my husband as an "unbeliever," but I do know that he has all but recited 1Peter 3: 2-3 when expressing his frustration with my "irritation" and "disapproval" of him. I have not yet seen the faith-infused life I am hoping and praying for in my husband's life, but I am determined to "live by faith, not by sight." Nevertheless, the reality of that decision is often more difficult than delightful. And, as a writer and school teacher, I usually resort to trying to *teach* my husband a thing or two with my words and/or attitude. Not surprisingly, I have NOT won him over to myself, and certainly not to Christ and true Christian living. I empathize with all of the women who struggle alongside with me — with those of us who must cry out to Jesus on almost an hourly basis, for comfort, for grace, and for wisdom — and especially with those of you who, like the woman who responded to John, endure your husband's derision about the very thing in your life that brings you joy indescribable and immeasurable. I will continue to pray for my precious husband, and for all of us. Remember, ladies, if we hadn't come to Christ before our beloved husbands, there would be no need for 1Peter 3:2-3. Men were designed (I believe) to *fall for* us when we are at our most beautiful. Yes, our husbands are our leaders; but we are their inspration. :o ) Christ be with you all.

  • Dana

    John, I would add that perhaps she should ask him if there is anything she does inadvertently that offends him (e.g., acting self-righteous, critical, etc). Then, non-defensively listen if he responds. It could be that he's just being a jerk for no reason, or he could feel left out/judged–even if she doesn't intentionally give out those signals. I'm sure it's quite difficult for her to love him unconditionally and be completely Christ-like when he is making fun of her constantly. Let's pray together for individuals living in this type of situation each day because the way they respond makes all the difference in the world with regard to their spouse's attitude eventually changing. They need total support & TLC!

  • Sami

    I too have this same situation, when I do tell things he says hurts my feeling and not only about my faith he just tells me I need to lighten up and that "I know hes Joking!" Its very frustrating and my kids always ask why daddy won't come to church with us (my children are from my first marriage) I am tired of hurting and crying but don't want to give up! when we first met we were on the same level when it came to God and now I have gotten back with God and strengthed my relationship with him, I have become very involved with my church and LOVE my church family and he just uses it as a big giant Joke!! He also uses my past mistakes and things I did that I can not change against me he likes to make me feel small and inferier (sp?) to him. My words to him only make him made and he just repeats "lighten up take a joke your too serious all the time, I don't want to be an old serious person i want to enjoy life and have fun!" I always ask "Why is it funny to make fun of me and hurt me? Why is my mistakes your main source of having "fun"? and i get the same lighten up speech I am so lost and confused.

    sorry this was soo long

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Sami: That's just … awful. Yikes, man. Will he go with you to see a marriage counselor? Even if he knows how desperately unhappy he makes you?

  • Melanie612

    My heart goes out to all the families in this situation. I am living it myself having married a non-believer at a young age thinking that since he believed in God, that was enough. I was a Christian since early childhood and knew nothing about being unequally yoked, etc.

    Now, three kids later, I am at a loss. If I happen to ask for his emotional support or just seem in need, he snidely remarks…"Where's your Jesus now!?" If I get impatient he says "Jesus, Jesus!" It's truly sick. I try to remind myself that this is the enemy using my lost husband. At the same time, he has made the choice towards evil.

    I hate the thought of our kids possibly turning out to be like him. We go to church every Sunday, with my husband coming less and less. He refuses to go to counseling. Our church has all but given up on our lifeless marriage. I am loosing hope too, but am turning to a new church to hopefully get some guidance along with good Christian books and lots and lots of prayer. I cry out to God for peace, hope, love for my family and will do the same for you all as well. It is like a living hell knowing the goodness God has for me, my kids and husband has been tossed aside like a piece of trash. I just keep the faith!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Melanie: Yow. Wow.

  • http://looking-closely.blogspot.com Rachel Rev

    If I were in this situation (and I have been, though in dating relationships, not marriage), instead of starting off by saying how hurt I am, I would ask questions, find out why he is so antagonistic to religion. Chances are, he has been hurt by religion (as many have been) and his snarky comments could be a way of covering that up. If that's the case, he could feel just as disrespected as the wife does. And her coming at him saying that he's being disrespectful could seem accusatory.

    So, I would try something like, "Sweetie, I am concerned that we can't seem to talk about this without hurting each other's feelings. Obviously, my faith means a great deal to me. But it seems as if this raises some strong feelings in you. And I would like to know a little more about those feelings. Can you tell me why my going to church bothers you?"

    In general (as a chaplain, pastor, friend, and spouse), I find that asking questions, clarifying our positions, is always a more helpful way to approach a conflict rather than loading up my hurt and accusations as ammunition.

  • http://www.1truebeliever.wordpress.com wickle

    Been there.

    One of the first areas my ex-wife mocked was my religious life. I became more and more of a "wacky religious nut," and she made no secret of the contempt she held for my church, my participation in it, and anything related to it.

    John, your advice is right on. The right thing to do is appeal to the husband and try to get him to understand that it hurts and why it hurts. A person's faith is a very important part of who s/he is, and having that mocked is brutal.

    More than heartbreaking, it's like heart-pulverizing.

    Melanie, I know how you feel … and I understand the church seeming to have given up on repairing your marriage. There is an extent to which your husband has to want to. You can't fix your marriage alone … and you can't love your husband so much that it makes up for his refusal to engage. Trust me, I tried and it almost killed me. (Literally, but that's a story for another day.)

    Anyway … John, another great post. Many people to add to my prayers …

  • Cedric

    To the Christian spouses here who are being mocked & harrassed by their unbelieving spouses, I just ask that you consider this. IF you do not have children together with this person (whether that person be their biological or emotional parent), then you may consider the possibility of getting out. Having children together does give more of a reason to try to work it out, but I wonder if God would consider you truly linked to a spouse if you don't have children to consider.

    Lisa P, your children are your first concern. If they are good kids but their personalities get on his nerves to where he thinks he should discipline them, then why are you even giving him any more thought? I don't even recommend confronting him about it, because he may change to make you happy… for a while, and then be worse than ever.

  • anonymous

    John,

    I have been so deep in this situation for the past several years. I grew up unchurched but came to Christ about three years ago.

    My husband mocked my faith, ridiculed my beliefs in front of our children, insulted me and all the other “hypocrites in the church,” openly expressed his hatred for my participation in church, and often picked fights with me concerning church. When I couldn’t take it any longer and would finally snap back at him, he would say things such as, “Now, is that the way a Christian would act?” or (sarcastically) “God loves you and so do I.” I prayed and prayed.

    It never got better, only worse. I tried talking to him, but his behavior continued. I was torn about what to do—there didn’t seem to be any good solutions. When It became unbearable and our safety was in question, I called for help. My husband then took his own life. I have so much guilt, but I continue trying to cling to my faith and pray for my children that one day they will know the goodness of God.

  • Thinker

    So hi everyone,

    Ive just discovered this blog and the gut wrenching response ive received in my heart has led me to share, empathise, cry with you all.

    I married a Christian…..I married him after being in an 8 year battle of a relationship beyond my own understanding….somehow by Gods grace I came to Jesus in that relationship and by Gods grace got out….I vowed ONLY to marry a believer. Which i did. I moved to the states and then bham….one year later he declares hes now an atheist. Let me just give you a little back story. He came from a Christian everything family…I came from well a church on Christmas if your lucky family. He led bible studies for years and was the model Christian man. He was a virgin he had waited for me and i was madly in love…hence why we got married after 3 months of dating, it was widly romantic and then slowly my world started to unfurl as his prayer life diminished he became skeptical and distant and i just wasnt sure why. I thought it was me.

    He started reading more, books by Dawkins and Hitchens, he got in contact with his old college room mate from his Christian University and guess what he had become an atheist…. he invested much time in uncoverting my husband and leading me into the depths of depression. At the same time a deep rooted addiction to porn came to the surface and i discovered this about a year and a half into our marriage.

    We are four years in now….and to be honest im at breaking point. We have tried counselling but he doesnt want to broach the major issues that are tearing us apart. These being, the addiction (which he claims to have got over) the unbelief and the fact that every core value he had gone into this marriage he has done a 360 on. I feel utterly disconnected alone and unloved.

    I am now 31 and at the cross roads….i am being pulled tempted and dragged in every direction in my heart. Receiveing attention from other men and feeling utterly shame filled in even desiring another man…..my dreams have been filled with temptation and confusion but the idea of leaving ….i just dont know if i could handle it emotionally….i think it may destroy me. I know in my head God would forgive me but would i forgive myself? Could i live with the feeling of having abandonded my husband in his crisis of faith…if that is what it is?

    The truth is a living hell right now.

    Thanks for listening i just wanted to share and let others know that your not alone.