Being married and raising a family isn’t easy, and doing so with a husband who doesn’t share your faith can add a whole new slew of challenges. How do you handle the difference in philosophies and perspectives?

A friend of mine is in this very situation, and I’ve watched her handle it with grace. She and her husband met in college. They now have a daughter together. Although she has been a believer since her twenties, her husband does not claim a faith of any kind. They make it work by respecting each other’s differences and never belittling each other’s beliefs, especially in front of their daughter.

When my friend needs Christian advice and encouragement, she’s sometimes at a loss. She can’t go to her husband because he doesn’t share her faith. It can be difficult for her to deal with, but she has Christian friends and a strong church family she can count on as she prays for her husband to experience God in a real way.

A coworker of my husband’s is also married to an unbeliever. He works for a church, so he has definitely felt the pressure of having a wife who isn’t a Christian. People often ask him how they make their marriage work.

Now they have a baby boy, and a lot of questions have come up about how they will raise their son. Something he won’t budge on is that he wants his son to be raised in the faith. Despite the fact that his wife is not a Christian, she agrees—but how that will practically works itself out remains unseen.

So how do these couples make it work? How do they stay together and raise their kids, despite disagreeing on something that’s so foundational? If you’re in an unequally yoked marriage, here are some insights to help you build and maintain a strong relationship.

Pray. The power of prayer is undeniable. We can’t force anyone to put his or her faith in Christ, but we can pray for a conversion of the soul. If your spouse is not a believer, pray for him. Remember that God hears your prayers. First John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (NIV). Don’t underestimate this! God can change anything and anyone. Pray without ceasing, even when you feel tired, worn out, and hopeless.

Go to church together, but don’t go overboard. Ask your spouse to go to church with you and participate in other church activities, like small group or Bible studies, but don’t fill up the whole week with those events. Find a balance. If your spouse doesn’t want to go, that’s okay. Keep going yourself, and bring your children. Community is such an important aspect of faith, and it’s important to demonstrate that to your spouse.

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Respect each other’s beliefs, especially in front of your children. Never belittle your spouse in front of your kids. You don’t want to pit your children against their father. Similarly, you would not want your spouse to pit your kids against you. Agree to present both opinions with love and respect when your children have a question about faith. That means not going behind your spouse’s back to tell your children that the other parent is wrong or mistaken in his beliefs. You want to foster a good relationship between parents and children, and you also want your children to wrestle with tough questions and make up their own minds. Authentic faith is better than manipulated faith.

Focus on the good. My friend can’t obsess over her husband’s lack of faith. He is on his own faith journey, and she knows she needs to be patient with the process. Instead, she is thankful for the good partner he is to her and the excellent father he is to their daughter. So when you’re getting frustrated, ask yourself, What good things does my spouse bring to the table? Maybe he has an excellent work ethic and provides well for your family. Maybe he always gets the kids ready for bed without complaint. Maybe he cooks delicious dinners every night. Reflect on those things and thank God for them.

Be humble. Resist the temptation to feel superior to your spouse because of your faith. Remember, it’s only by God’s grace that you’ve been saved (Ephesians 2:8–9). And if you don’t have all the answers to your spouse’s questions, that’s okay. Humbly admit that you’re still learning and searching for answers too. Your spouse will respect you more if you are authentic and admit your weaknesses. You are still united in marriage, even if you’re not united in faith. Don’t allow anything to fracture that.

Ignore the naysayers. One of the most difficult parts about being in an unequally yoked relationship is actually dealing with the thoughts and opinions of others. While some may show their support, others are quick to dole out negativity. Don’t listen to people speaking negatively about your spouse or marriage. Surround yourself with people who will pray for your family and who want to see you thrive.

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Be patient. Your spouse may come to faith tomorrow, in ten years, or never. He’s on his own spiritual journey. Trust that God is working and things will happen as they are supposed to happen—in his own time. Take comfort in 2 Peter 3:8–9, which tells us, “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” Don’t be pushy or try to force things to happen. God has his perfect timing, even if it doesn’t make sense to us.

At the end of the day, you have to trust in the Lord. Your spouse may seem uninterested in your faith, but you never know what is brimming beneath the surface. Continue to be faithful to God and loving toward your spouse. Continue to make your relationship a priority. Pray for your spouse and your kids. Respect his views and focus on what you have in common rather than the differences. Stand united. Remember that God loves your spouse even more than you do, and he wants only good for you and your family.

Kristel Acevedo is a wife, mom, and writer living in Miami, Florida. She graduated from Southeastern Seminary with a master’s degree in biblical counseling and now stays at home with her adorable and rambunctious children. She writes about faith, family, and fun at her personal blog You can also find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.