What to Do When Your Spouse Leaves the Faith

My spouse was a Christian, but just turned agnostic. My faith is important to me. What do I do?

It’s devastating when your spouse leaves a faith that the two of you shared when you married. This is a totally unexpected turn of events, and it will rattle even the strongest person. You thought you had a completely wonderful spiritual match for life–what happened? More importantly, what can you do?

In today’s video, we’re talking about what to do when your spouse leaves the faith.

Because this revelation strikes at the core of what you value most, you need to give yourself time to grieve. You’ve suffered a genuine loss in your relationship. This is something you never thought about, much less planned for.

First, remember that there’s nothing you can do to make your spouse change his or her mind. Faith only happens if it’s internal, so no amount of trying to argue, convince, or convert is going to be productive.

Here are some ways you can handle yourself (and approach your spouse with care) in this very difficult situation:

  • Respond to this subject with your spouse in a nonjudgmental way.
  • Engage in intellectual discussions, but not debate.
  • Invite his or her comments and/or perspectives on spiritual matters.
  • Don’t shut down or allow yourself to be threatened.
  • Affirm every good thing you see in his or her character.
  • Don’t lose sight of all the good things you have in common.
  • Pray fervently that whatever has shifted or hardened in your spouse’s mind or heart will be unlocked, and that God will reach him or her.

The more open you are, the more you will learn about what is behind your spouse’s doubt. This will lead to deeper intimacy between you two, in spite of this major difference.

There are still ways to walk together in life. Your spirituality is at the core of who you are, but so many things around that core can continue to link the two of you together. Genuine faith journeys have seasons of doubt, so continue to love and pray for your spouse during this season.

Have you experienced a season where one of you doubted, or even left your faith? How did you cope with the change, and how did you walk through it together? We’d love to hear from you!

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One Comment

  • Betsy says:

    I’m sobbing. I needed this word of encouragement and validation today. My husband of 18 years told me he’s no longer a Christian and wants a Buddhist community to practice his faith. He was our previous church’s youth pastor for 5 years before he changed careers but the last 3 years has been wrestling with his faith in Jesus and has now rejected it. I feel like I’ve been spiritually divorced and I dont know how to journey with him anymore. I’m not good at gentleness and fear I don’t know how to call out the hood when all I’m experiencing is hurt and rejection. Thank you for this encouragement. I will be holding and revisiting it often. This is so hard.

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