We were both on a U.S. Navy ship. We were young, dumb, and in love. We were about having a lot of sex and being together every minute of the day. I adored him and he loved me. He was my oxygen. I couldn’t function without him. We got married a year after meeting one another for the soul purpose of ensuring that we would always be together. We had no life aspirations, goals, or dreams. Let’s keep this thing going was our mantra.
We were married in a small Baptist church. I grew up in church, walked an aisle, got dunked and then lived like the devil. None of those things prompted a real relationship with God. Yet something in me thought a church wedding would be appropriate. I am sure my mom was hoping being back in a church just might save me. We borrowed my dad’s car for the honeymoon and used the money we got from the reception to pay for our three day trip.
I wish I could go back and see the “real” looks on people’s faces as I married my live in boyfriend whom I worshiped. I am sure people said it wouldn’t last and it probably shouldn’t have. He didn’t have a job, we didn’t have a car, a bank account, money, or a clue what we were doing, and I was pregnant. Our daughter was born six months later, but thank God we were together and that is all that mattered?
I took the kids to church when they were little, but still didn’t know God. Going to church on Sunday’s didn’t disrupt my marriage. I dressed the kids up in cute clothes and we went on Sunday’s. The rest of the week was the same. Nothing had changed in my life and our marriage went unchanged. Then something happened. I suddenly had a hunger for God’s Word. I suddenly wanted to pray and study God’s Word and rearranged my day to ensure that I could fit both things in. I had been changed and as my life changed so did my marriage.
Now I wanted to go to church as an outpouring of my hunger for God. My mind was a sponge and I wanted to soak up knowledge to fill it. My church attendance increased and I began to read theological books. I was so enraptured by new relationship with God that I never took the time to see how my new life was affecting my husband.
I had a
- New direction
- New devotion
- New focus
- Listened to new music
- Had new friends
- Developed new goals
- New behaviors
- New life
My mom told me once that she had never seen anyone grow the way I did during that time of my life. I lived and breathed God’s Word for a year and the morning my husband announced he wanted to leave was the morning I realized that God had been preparing me for what would become the greatest trial of my life.
We were both…..
We were both unbelievers and then we were split in two. God got in the way and I had no one to teach me how to handle it. There are several things that will determine how divided we feel from our unsaved spouse and are some things to keep in mind as we go on this journey with God.
- Our theology. Different churches believe different doctrines. Our beliefs about unbelievers will dictate how we treat our spouse. If we are hell fire damnation people then he needs to be scared into following God. If our church emphasizes love then we will love them to death. If we believe that sinners are unable to do anything good than we will deal with our spouse with skeptism and question their every act. Be observant of your beliefs because they will drive your behavior.
- Our religious practices. Every church has different religious practice norms. Some people can go on Saturday night and be okay. Some need to be there every time the doors open. Some people are expected to make their church their family, attend weekly small groups, be accountable with elders, devote an extreme amount of time to volunteering, dress different, hold up religious norms, eat different, and many other practices. These will all have major effects on your spouse and remember our spouse is the only person God asks us to become one with. We will have to consider what a healthy balance is in a 50/50 marriage. We must maintain a focus on following God’s commands over the churches commands and unfortunately the two are not always the same. Following God will promote unity. Following man will cause division.
- Our lifestyle. When I was saved I was living a decent moral life. Drastic changes would come, but they would be gradual, however for others the changes may be more drastic and our spouse may be unable, or willing to live with them. If we live in these situations our lifestyle will drastically change and theirs may not:
- Drugs, drug dealing,
- Bar hopping, heavy drinking
- Couple swapping, pornography
- Violent or criminal behavior
- Abusive behavior against each other or children
- Many others.
- Our relationship. If you are close to your spouse and share every thought and detail with them then when you start sharing about your new love for God a chasm could form. If you are used to doing some things on your own and add on going to church then it might not be such a big deal. At least at first. If you grow inward with God than they might not be affected for a long time. If you grow outward and become an evangelist in your home than there could be more opportunity for division though that will depend on your spouse.
At first we just need to realize that this type of change in our life is a pretty big deal. This isn’t like getting a new hair color, new job, starting a new hobby, or trying some new way of doing things. A relationship with God is truly life changing. As we change and grow our behavior and relationships will change and there is no way this won’t affect the one person we should be striving to become one with. Without knowing it we have entered into the most important ministry of our lives—evangelizing and loving an unbeliever.
It’s a beautiful opportunity and can feel like a heavy burden, but do not despair. We serve a great God and He will use this situation to change you to become more like Him. As He does you will demonstrate His power, mercy, grace, and love to someone who needs Him desperately.
Focus on God. Keep it there. He is and always will be our rock.