What’s A Wife To Do With An Unbelieving Husband

What’s a wife to do with an unbelieving husband?

As I read though posts on social media of unhappy wives in tough marriages my heart aches. I mean really aches.
Women who are being belittled, ridiculed, emotionally, verbally and sometimes physically abused are sharing these experiences with closed media groups. Safe places, hopefully.



There are dozens everyday and it makes me so sad sometimes I just can’t read another heartbreaking account of an unloving husband. I just can’t do it. I’m in the group to pray for others, but I feel so overwhelmed. I know I can’t fix the situation for them. I can offer advise along with the 42 other women trying to help, but to what end? Ultimately, the married couple will make their choices, no matter what we say.

I was asked recently the questions I feared. “What if my husband isn’t a Christian? What if he doesn’t equally submit? Does God expect the wife to continue to give and receive nothing back?”

To answer these questions I went to the Word.
Eph 5:33, 1 Corinthians 7:13-15  and 1 Peter 3:1-2 I believe the answers are there.

Ephesians 5:33

33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:13-15

13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

1 Peter 3:1-2

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

Some Understanding

In Ephesians 5:33, the emphasis is “husbands LOVE your wives, wives RESPECT your husbands. But what on earth does that look like?

If the husband isn’t a believer he certainly isn’t gonna love his wife as Christ loves the church. How could he? He doesn’t know what that even means. So what’s a wife to do?

(Here is where I remind you I’m not a counselor, nor am I a wife in a marriage like the ones described above. I am however a wife who was willing to walk away from her 19 yr marriage for far less.) You can read about it here “Love and Respect For A Happy Marriage”.

As I read these verses, I am convinced that a wife who isn’t being abused is asked to stay with her husband. She is asked to submit to him and respect him. But how? I did a little googling and found a site with some helpful answers.


The article is “11 ways to show respect to your husband”.

Here are a few that stuck out to me:

-Look for opportunities to build your husband up.
-Focus on the things he does well.
-Point them out to him and others.
-Think before you speak.

Please click the link to check out the rest.

A few of my own ideas:

-Really listen when he speaks
-Allow him to unwind when he gets home.  Whatever, that means for HIM.  Ask him what would be best.
-If a clean house, hot supper, or help with his morning routine are desires for him, make that happen
-Back him up when he is working with the kids ( if you have issues, discuss them PRIVATELY!!)

Put some of them into practice and see what happens.

The main point in 1 Corinthians 7:13-15 is that the unbelieving spouse will be sanctified and the children of the marriage will be holy if they marriage stay safe intact.

The word used here for sanctified in the Greek is hagiazo (NT) meaning consecrated. Consecrated means Sanctify. Sanctify means holy, pure, dedicated. The word holy in the Greek is hagios  (NT) and it means to be set apart for divine redemptive purposes.

Omg! What a Word from the Lord we have here. If you as a wife are married to an unbelieveing husband, then according to what we’ve learned here, God has set apart your husband for a divine redemptive purpose.
Praise the Lord! That’s HOPE right there sister!

Submit Anyway

1 Peter 3:1-2 tells us that we are to submit to our unbelieving husbands so they may be won over by our actions.  If you’ve read my posts Are You Equal To Your Husband? Part 1 Equality and Part 2, Submission, then you know that you and your husband are equal partners in this life and you both are to submit to each other.  

Some may say though that submission is required only when both partners are believers.  I disagree completely, because of what 1 Peter 3:1 says.  “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,”.  I’m afraid we cannot argue with the Word of God.

Lastly, I want to give you one of my favorite verses Gal 6:9.

Galatians 6:9

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

My prayer is that this Word will give hope to the hopeless.  My the Lord bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you and give you PEACE.

In Christ,


2 Replies to “What’s A Wife To Do With An Unbelieving Husband”

  1. Thank you so much for providing this article. It is very helpful to me. I have been struggling with what to do in my marriage. After reading this, I have realized that I have to do my part and follow the word of God.


    1. Lasonya, thank you for your comment. I’m grateful and praise the Lord that this post touched you today. I pray that your commitment to your marriage will be a blessing to you both. My husband is now my favorite person, but it wasn’t alway the case. God bless you in your journey!


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