Welcome to week three of our Open Forum. This week's question touches one of the hardest areas of a spiritually mismatched marriage.
This week's question is from Nicole:
"Yes you guys are great. What a much needed website! Would you guys share any feelings of guilt talking about your husbands or just with holding information. Because he is the source of much sadness for me and because he doesn't get it I feel like I can't share certain things when it relates to my faith. He lately has been teasing -"I didn't know I was marrying a nun." So I of course hold back experiences and events, but I feel almost like I'm hiding a part of me to him."
Lynn's Answer: Hi Nicole, I wish I could sit with you and give you a hug. I can tell you that your feelings and what you are experiencing is a common issue among those of us who are unequally yoked.
Withholding or choosing not to share your faith experiences with your spouse seems to go against everything we think marriage is all about. When we marry we expect to have one person with whom we feel safe to tell them our most intimate secrets. What we discover, however, is that our spouse doesn’t want to know what we are feeling with regard to faith.
I know that I would try to tell my husband about, for example, a fantastic message at church that changed my life. He would roll his eyes or make some comment – similar to the nun comment- which brought shame. It would hurt deeply to be excited about some change in my spiritual life only to have shared my feelings and then made to feel silly, weak or childish.
We deeply desire our spouse to respect us just as they want respect from us. It brings pain when they don’t respect our faith. With this said, you are not alone to want to hold back your experiences. This is okay to do but painful I realize. What we must recognize is we are experiencing faith, a spiritual experience.
~They simply don’t get it!
1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV) The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
I can attest to this. Over the years I have experienced some pretty amazing supernatural things. Once in a while, if the right moment arrives, I am able to share these incredible “moments” with my husband. He listens with full attention. He rarely has a comment about what I describe. I have asked him, “What do you do with all these things I tell you about?”
He will look at me and shake his head and say, “I don’t know.”
My husband literally doesn’t know how to process the spiritual realm. He is unable to understand because it is only God who reveals these things. God will reveal truth when His timing is perfect, not ours…. *bummer*
So cling to your experiences. Treasure your faith and all that happens to you just as Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. There will be a day when your husband is ready to really hear the truth. But for today when the sting of an insult lands upon you from the man you love. Arm yourself in the love of Christ. It is through the supernatural love of Jesus we are empowered to forgive and love and fight the good fight for our unbelieving spouse.
Never give up hope and never stop praying. Fix your eyes on Christ to help you through the pain. Christ never once, failed to meet me in my pain and wrap His comforting arms around me. What a relief!
Love you Nicole. Write us anytime. Thank you for sharing your heart. Lynn
Dineen's Answer: Nicole, you've hit upon the greatest source of our heartache in a SUM. I think we all have to deal with this. In fact, I wrote a post on this in 2007, To Know and Be Known, that is still one of our more popular posts. When I've looked at our stats, I'm amazed at how often this topic is searched on the web. Seeing the recurrent theme tells me this need is universal.
God created us for intimacy with him, and our relationships here on earth are a reflection of that. We naturally we desire this deep intimacy with our spouses on three levels: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. All three (kind of like the Trinity) are an integral part of marriage according to how God created it. When one part is lacking or missing, the relationship suffers.
In a SUM, the spiritual link is missing. Without this connection, we find it very difficult to share with our spouse who we are on this level. As you said it, Nicole, "because he just doesn't get it." You're exactly right. He doesn't have this ability, and for now, I'm sorry to say, that's the way it has to be until he takes the step to accept Christ. It's not that he doesn't want to understand. He just can't. (This could also account for his remark to you as a defense mechanism, because he's feeling insecure. Just a thought...)
In essence, we wind up "hiding" or withholding this aspect of ourselves out of protection and the reality that it's something we can't share effectively. That's why this blog is so vital and resources like it. And going to church or Bible study. We need to connect to other believers and share our faith experiences.
But most importantly, we need to turn this desire toward God. Be very careful, because this can make you vulnerable. When we don't find what we deeply need (or think we need) in our spouse, temptation can easily come in when we see what we want in another person, thing, or pursuit. Then we can cross the line into adultery or idolatry.
So, Nicole, you more than anyone, I wish I could give you a huge hug and tell you it's normal to feel this way. Unfortunate, but normal. This desire to share ourselves comes from a deeper desire to be known and accepted by our spouse. And just as you desire this, he does, too.
My advice is not to focus on this issue, but instead to find other ways to connect with your husband. Keeping a connection is important because you may be finding that the closer you walk with God, the wider the gap may become between you and your husband, because of this spiritual incongruity. And be sure to let your husband know that, even if he doesn't understand your faith, YOU love and accept him just as he is. This is spoken through your actions and will be your greatest testimony of Christ.
And more importantly, remember that God knows you better than anyone. He knows your needs, wants and desires because he created them. He is ultimately the one to fulfill them as well. When you feel that ache, run to Jesus, our ultimate groom. He's your best comfort during this time of spiritual loneliness.
Praying and believing,