Spiritual Mismatch

Mentoring Tips

Make one-to-one mentoring easier by learning what to do and what not to do.  Click to learn more.

Tip#1 – Find your PLACE

  • Pray: simple yet powerful act
  • Listen: people want to feel heard
  • Ask: good questions foster productive dialogue
  • Consider: think slowly and biblically
  • Encourage: uplift rather than beat down
Tip#2 – Avoid the common mistakes

  • Fixing: this is a person, not a project
  • Preaching: walk alongside, don’t talk at or down to them
  • Carrying: show concern but don’t carry too heavy a burden
  • Blaming: no condemnation in Christ Jesus
  • Rescuing: you are not their savior!
    • Were you a believer before you married?
    • What was your courtship like? How did you come to marry?
    • When did you first become aware of a lack of spiritual unity?
    • How do the spiritual differences in your marriage make you feel?
    • How do you think your spouse sees themselves – as a believer in Christ, an agnostic, an atheist, or some other philosophy?
    • How has the spiritual mismatch affected your marriage in practical ways that make daily life difficult?
    • How does your difference in beliefs affect your parenting?
    • Is your spouse open to discussing areas of faith?
    • Does your spouse ridicule you or try to pressure you not to actively practice your faith? If so, what does that look like?
    • What do you believe are the most important things God has shown you in this process?
    • Have you become disheartened or do you still have hope?
Deeper Questions
    • What adjustments have you made in your marriage to accommodate the spiritual differences you and your spouse have?
    • How do you respond when there are struggles or arguments over spiritual issues? How does your spouse respond?
    • In what way do you think you are representing Christ to your spouse? In what ways could you improve in this area?
    • Why do you think God allowed you to marry your spouse? How do you think God can use your marriage to glorify Himself?
    • What specific actions or attitudes in your home do not express loving leadership (husband) or godly submission (wife)?
    • What changes do you believe God would have you make to more closely represent Christ in your marriage? Was there specific truth from God’s word that led you to seeing a need for change in this area?
    • Are you actively involved in a local church and what impact has that had on your marriage? Does your spouse support your involvement or has it been a source of tension? What are your spouse’s expectations and how have you responded?
    • Have you been able to find a healthy balance between your love for serving God and your responsibilities to your spouse? What has that looked like specifically in your situation? What would your spouse say about you in this area?
    • Are there specific questions or concerns that you’d like to discuss with me?
    • How can I pray for you?
    • What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
Online Helps
Other Ministry Links
  • - Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, p. 86

    “There is no man on the face of this earth who can satisfy the deepest longings of a woman’s heart‐‐God has made us in such a way that we can never be truly satisfied with anything or anyone less than Himself (Psalm 16:11; 34:8‐10).”

  • - Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, p. 140

    “When a wife is preoccupied with trying to correct her husband’s faults and flaws, she is taking responsibility God never intended her to have, and she will likely end up frustrated and resentful toward her husband and perhaps even toward God. She may also limit God from doing what He wants to do in changing her husband.”

  • - Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free, p. 141

    “Many Christian wives do not realize that they have two powerful ‘weapons’ available to them that are far more effective than nagging, whining, or preaching. The first weapon is a godly life, which God often uses in a man’s life to create conviction and spiritual hunger (1 Peter 3:1‐4) … and the second is prayer.”

  • - Shaunti Feldhahn, For Women Only, p. 35

    “Women hold an incredible power in the way we communicate with our men (both husbands and sons) to build them up or to tear them down, to encourage or to exasperate.”

  • - Nancy Kennedy, When He Doesn’t Believe, p. 82

    “Our thoughts determine our attitudes, which determine our actions. If I think my husband is a jerk, I’ll treat him like a jerk. But if I think about how he’s made in God’s image, then I’ll treat him differently.”

  • - Lee and Leslie Strobel, Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage, p. 97

    “If your partner wants you to participate in something unethical or illegal, or wants you to do something that violates your conscience or Christian commitment, then it’s appropriate to explain why you can’t participate. When this happens, don’t use an accusatory tone that demeans your spouse. Instead, talk about your own feelings and why participation would make you feel uncomfortable, scared, or violated.”

  • - Stormie Omartian, The Power of a Praying Wife, p. 41

    “Let go of as many expectations as possible. The changes you try to make happen in your husband, or that your husband tries to make in himself to please you, are doomed to failure and will bring disappointment for you both. Instead, ask God to make any necessary changes … Accept your husband the way he is and pray for him to grow … Your greatest expectations must be from God, not from your husband.”

  • - Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect, p. 91

    “Because we do what we don’t feel like doing, does that make us hypocrites? No, it is a sign we are responsible people. Showing respectful behavior when we don’t ‘feel respectful’ is evidence of maturity, not hypocrisy.”

  • - Emerson Eggerichs, Motivating Your Man God’s Way, p. 58

    “The call is for a wife to carry herself with dignity, showing honor to her husband because she is an honorable woman. Though her husband may not be respectable, God is calling her to show unconditional respect in her pursuit to obey God. She does this in obedience to the command of God in Ephesians 5:33, not because her husband deserves it.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Two Hearts Praying As One, p. 85

    “If you are married to a spouse who does not share your spiritual values and commitment to Christ, we recommend that you ask if he or she would mind if you led in prayer together each day—even if your spouse does not pray … If your spouse allows you to pray out loud, use this time as an opportunity to bless, encourage, and lift up his or her needs. Do not use this prayer time to preach, instruct, or correct your spouse. If your spouse will not allow you to pray out loud, then find a time each day when you can pray silently.”

  • - Nancy Kennedy, When He Doesn’t Believe, p. 37

    “More than any other emotion, loneliness tops the lists of most women in spiritually unequal marriages.”

  • - Nancy Kennedy, When He Doesn’t Believe, p. 6

    “Plain and simple, your husband’s relationship with the Lord isn’t dependent on you. While God may use you in great ways as an influence, ultimately it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to change hearts.”

  • - Nancy Kennedy, When He Doesn’t Believe, p. 51

    “After reading a few eye‐opening books on the subject of gender differences and conducting my own casual research, I discovered many of the conflicts in marriages aren’t necessarily caused by spiritual differences. Rather, they’re caused by simple gender differences. And if you’re unaware of those differences, you may inadvertently cause, or at least aggravate, your spiritual differences.”

  • - Emerson Eggerichs, Motivating Your Man God’s Way, p. 35

    “Peter indicated that a wife’s respectful behavior can win a disobedient man to God! He said it quite explicitly in I Peter 3:1‐2. And of course, if respectful behavior can win a disobedient husband to God, then it can also win that same husband back to his wife. That’s because unconditional respect ignites something deep within the spirit of a husband … As a woman, you know how hard it is for a wife to resist the unconditional love of a man. Her nature is designed to respond. What is left untaught today is that this is how husbands respond to unconditional respect.”

Next Steps
    • You are not alone, many people are able to glorify God while married to an unbeliever.
    • Consider inviting your spouse to attend a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.  The principles presented are helpful for any marriage since they are practical as well as biblical.
    • Pray daily for your spouse’s salvation and for your marriage.  Do not give up or lose heart in doing good.
    • You cannot control or change your spouse; only God can change a person’s heart.  Pray for the kindness of God to lead your spouse to repentance.
    • Read this online article 10 Ideas:  Prayers for an Unbelieving Spouse and begin implementing some of these prayers.
    • Living your life for God will bring the greatest fulfillment in your marriage regardless of the position of your spouse.  Pray every day to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit.
    • Ask God to reveal any areas of sinful behavior or attitude where you need to repent and seek forgiveness.
    • Rather than nagging, whining or preaching, try praying for God to create conviction and spiritual hunger in your spouse. There is a God-shaped hole in all of us.
    • Be forgiving and gracious (unmerited favor) toward your spouse.
    • Be assured that God will use the challenges you are facing in marriage as part of His process of conforming you and your spouse to the image of Christ.
    • Be sure you are not blaming every issue on spiritual mismatch… some conflicts are normal in any marriage.  And many differences can be attributed to gender differences, not necessarily spiritual differences.  (Link coming soon)
    • Always base your decisions on Scripture, but never “browbeat” your spouse with the Bible.  Implement spiritual principles into your life in a respectful and quiet manner.
    • Guard your heart from emotional connections with the opposite sex.  Be especially careful around someone you admire for their spiritual leadership or maturity.
    • Think kind thoughts about your spouse.
    • Use opportunities to build up your spouse rather than tear them own. Encourage rather than exasperate.
    • Be sure you are involved in a local, bible‐believing church for spiritual growth and accountability.   A Bible study with others of the same sex may be very helpful.