Over recent years I've really enjoyed finding out about our community, and how different people found themselves in a spiritually mismatched situation. We truly have a vibrant mix among our readership, and you can be sure that if you're feeling alone there is someone else here who is going through the same thing as you!
There are different ways in which people suddenly find themselves 'spiritually mismatched', and I thought it might be interesting to look at those today. After all, everything we learn about spiritually mismatched marriage from each other helps us minister to others who come up behind us on the path.
So, here we go: Broadly, people get into a spiritually mismatched situation usually through one of five ways:
- They were a Christian who married an unbeliever.
- Their spouse was Christian when they married but then left the faith.
- They and their spouse have always been Christians, but one person's growth took off after marrying, or one became lukewarm.
- They married someone they thought was Christian, then found out that person wasn't.
- They became a Christian after getting married.
Have I missed any? Let me know if your circumstance isn't covered in the above, I'd love to hear it.
In terms of the prevalence of this among males and females, we all know by now that it is more common for women to be the believers in a spiritually mismatched marriage. But there certainly are men too. In our readership, we do have men as well as women. The men comment less, but we meet them behind the scenes in emails.
There are specific kinds of pain that apply to each of the above cases. For example, if someone has a spouse who is outwardly Christian but behind closed doors it seems they might not be (i.e., nominally Christian but no fruit), that can be particularly lonely. It's impossible to explain to the church without 'outing' the spouse, and then that becomes a question of 'where do I find friendship and support?'
For those who chose to marry an unbeliever, many struggle with guilt and/or regret. They have to work through the question of 'What is God's view of this now?' We'll write a post on that soon.
For those whose spouses leave the faith, there is deep, almost unbearable grief, and they are forced to get used to having a completely new person as their spouse: One who is now welcoming new things into the home (often atheism), and a spouse who is particularly resistant to being persuaded that Jesus is true.
Finally, those who convert after marriage find it extremely difficult to move forward in their new faith. Their spouse is part of their old life, they are now a new creation, and so they must navigate how to build a new life with their spouse, who is often unhappy: A 'new normal' that fits them both.
What an interesting mix of things there. But, there are commonalities that apply to most, if not all, of us who are spiritually mismatched:
- There is an aloneness in our walk.
- We build our relationship with Jesus by ourselves, not with our spouse.
- We have the responsibility to lead our family spiritually, regardless of our gender.
- It's difficult for us to connect with the church, and yet we must.
- The spiritual warfare of our particular situation is intense, and so we are frequently embattled.
- We must learn to forgive our spouse for their unbelief.
- We focus deeply on the covenant of marriage.
So all in all, that's our picture. That's our community. And what an adventure to journey together in it. Despite the above challenges, I know that many of us reach the point where we say "I wouldn't change it for the world, because of what it's done for my relationship with Jesus."
In the comments I'd love to hear how you got into a spiritually mismatched marriage - And what challenges does that specifically bring?
Much love to you all,