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Treasure Digest: Q&A: My Spouse Is Not in the Church

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Treasure Digest

Q&A: My Spouse Is Not in the Church

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Does United have any literature to comfort and advise members whose spouses are not in the Church?

I don't know of any specific booklets or articles on that subject. Your best source of comfort and advice would likely come from counsel with your pastor. He knows you and your situation best and may well have met your mate, too. If you have any particular questions or issues, it would be helpful to arrange an appointment with him.

One of the difficulties in publishing articles on this subject is that every relationship and circumstance is unique, making it difficult to offer generalized encouragement. But there are some principles that may be helpful. Three keys to dealing with this kind of situation are communication, respect and example.

Regarding communication, it's important that you and your mate each be able to express what you believe and why it's important to you. You shouldn't try to change each other's minds—that can lead to an argument. But it will relieve the situation of some stress if you can both speak calmly and openly about your beliefs.

Secondly, even though you and your mate have different beliefs, it is important that each of you respects the other and the other's beliefs. A great deal of stress comes into a relationship if either disregards or ridicules the other's beliefs. For example, your spouse may continue to observe traditional holidays (such as Christmas). That may put a strain on you, since you no longer believe in those observances—but it would be unproductive and unnecessarily stressful to try to force your mate to not observe those days. By the same token, he or she can accept and respect your decision to observe the Sabbath and the annual festivals.

The third general principle is your personal example. Peter's instruction is given to wives, but the principle holds true for husbands as well: "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear" (1 Peter 3:1 1 Peter 3:1Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
American King James Version×

Peter points out that the most important thing for you to do in your circumstance is to continue to be the best, most loving, responsive and respectful husband or wife you can (see also 1 Peter 3:7 1 Peter 3:7Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
American King James Version×
and Ephesians 5:21 Ephesians 5:21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
American King James Version×
). Your mate may well be "won over" by your conduct because he or she sees that your new understanding and beliefs are helping you become an even better husband or wife.

Along that line, it might also help if your mate has contact with the Church so he or she can become acquainted with the members. He or she may be willing to come to Sabbath and Holy Day services with you occasionally and attend the congregation's social events. Hopefully your mate will see that our pastors and members are friendly, reasonable and "normal" people.

You may also find it helpful to talk about your situation with others whose spouses are not members. They may have specific suggestions and recommendations based on their own experiences.

I respect your commitment to your calling and new understanding. I'm confident God will continue to bless your efforts.