The Do’s and Dont’s of Living an Unequally Yoked Marriage


Living an unequally yoked marriage is not easy, especially when one person is an atheist and the other decided six years into their marriage to convert to Catholicism. Whatever your faith denomination, or not, as the case may be, here are some quick Do’s and Dont’s that I’ve collected that may help you get through some of those tougher moments.

The Do's and Dont's of Living an Unequally Yoked Marriage

Do ask your children to pray for your spouse. I don’t know where I heard this, but children’s prayers are powerful. Maybe it’s that scripture verse, Matthew 19:14. Simply praying as a family for them to have a good day, or a safe flight, is perfect.

Don’t tell your children to pray for the conversion of their parent’s soul. Don’t create a divide in your marriage this way. In essence what you’re doing is pitting your spouse against the rest of the family and if what you want is peace in your marriage, do your best to eliminate unnecessary us vs them scenarios.

Do participate in church activities. Faith is something that isn’t seen. Make your faith, new or not, visible to your spouse and sign up for a bible sharing study or a clean the church day. They’ll see that faith isn’t private, but shared in a community.

Don’t kill your schedule with every church activity. Remember that marriage is a vocation too and that is always priority with family. It’s about balance. If you’re a new convert, it’s easy to be so excited about your faith that you want to scream it from the rooftops and participate in everything. Pick one or two things and then journal, girl, journal. That will get all the high-energy stuff out, and you’ll have a great resource for yourself to look back on when things get tough.

Do spend quality time with your spouse. I know it may sound weird, but this new faith thing you got going, where you’re consuming all things God, it’s wonderful, but to your spouse it’s like they’re sharing the spotlight with an interloper. Don’t get me wrong; God is not an interloper. Just look at yourself through their eyes. They married you because of how you love, and they want that love showered on them.

Don’t assume your spouse isn’t interested. Just because they say they will never, ever, ever in a million, trillion, billion, years believe in anything other than your delicious rice and beans, don’t assume they don’t care. They love you and do care, just give them time to come around to your new found faith. Like all change, it takes time for a marriage to adjust.

Do show patience. A priest explained it to me like this: “Of course you’re frustrated, you are milestones away in your faith, and even if he doesn’t know it, he’s on a journey of faith too, but he’s like at the entrance to the journey. He’s checking out the door. Be patient with him.” Remember how the door to your journey of faith fascinated and terrified you at the same time? Show a little patience.

Don’t argue over every tenet of the bible, or social doctrine. I know it’s hard, but sometimes, sometimes, you have to stay silent. For me, marriage trumps all. I know that’s the vocation I was called to and God understands the struggle in my heart. Peace and love in your marriage always.

Do share the load. Have a good friend, priest or minister? Confide in them. This is tough stuff to work through by yourself and it’s not healthy to hold it all in. In fact, it can make you a little crazy. Ask for prayers to have the grace to be the spouse you are called to be. As a Catholic, I lean on the saints, but most of all Our Blessed Mother.

Don’t focus on their conversion. As harsh as it sounds, that’s not your problem, nor is it something you can really do anything about. That’s a battle they have to work out. All you can do is pray for yourself and your marriage. Personally, I just pray for seeds of conversion. That’s all. Because blooming where you’re planted has strong roots.

Do admit that you don’t have all the answers. Sometimes, when conversations heat up, one or both spouses can feel cornered. A quick “get out of here now” card is to say that you don’t have all of the answers. Back it up with a resource, my favorite? My priest. He knows everything!

When in doubt, sprinkle everything with holy water! I’m kidding. Maybe. Please know that you’re not alone. If He brought you to it, He will see you through it. It’s cliche, but man is that something to keep handy when the going gets rough.

Are you unequally yoked? Do you have any tips that could be helpful to others? I’d love to read and share them.

Copyright 2016 Cristina Trinidad


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  1. Never give up! I married a pagan who is now a Deacon in the Catholic Church. When I see him lift the cup at the Holy Moment of each mass you can sometimes detect a tear trickle down my check. The tears are graditude to God and a witness to my soul that nothing is impossible with God. God sees your heart. He loves your husband more than you do. I will join you in prayer. It was a very great article and yes I read the book too.

  2. “When in doubt, sprinkle everything with holy water!” -> love it! too funny.
    My brother decided to be an atheist several years after high school and tried to cut himself off from our family because of his decision – so hurtful! Currently I’m the only one he talks with, and that took a lot of work of prayer, not talking anything faith with him, and showing support for his life sans faith. A lot of your pointers cross the border into how we continue to have relationships with family members who are not believers (like my brother). I appreciate hearing them!

  3. I read your article with torn emotions because I was there. It’s so difficult to live in a marriage where you are not on the same page (or even in the name library) as your spouse. Over the years of my marriage I read every article on what to do and how to pray, be an example, show God’s love… You’re right that it’s not up to us to convert them, but it’s hard to not take that burden on. Especially as women – we want to heal, love and nurture. We start to think, “What else can I do?” I don’t have anything to add to your list because I think you’ve summed it up nicely.

    I think part of the bigger problem is a separation of church life & home life. Too often as Catholics church is the holy place and home is the secular place. And if that’s truly the case, then being in an unequally yoked marriage would be fine. But the truth is that to really live the life we are called to requires us to “pray unceasingly” and incorporate our faith into all parts of the week. If we are doing that, then an unequally yoked marriage is going to be a problem for more than an hour on Sunday. I’m thinking I’ve found the topic for my next blog post! Thanks, Cristina! St. Monica, pray for us!

    • I love St. Monica. My husband nods his head when we pray before meals, and will go to all the masses for Holy Days of Obligation, because we go. He stands when we do, basically, he does all that we do, in an attempt to let us know that regardless of what he feels, he is still part of the family and will support us. In that way, he is, to me, exceptional. Looking forward to that blog post! 🙂

  4. Abby Brundage on


    After I re-read my comments I thought – uh oh. I sound like a big jerk!

    To clarify – I didn’t mean to imply that you are not “living the life we are called to live” outside of the church walls. I was thinking more on the bigger picture of what we tell young people who are preparing for marriage. I admire you for sharing your journey with us and for working through the differences in your marriage. No marriage is easy. That’s for sure. It sounds like you have a pretty amazing husband!

    • Oh! I never took it that way! Isn’t it funny how sometimes we worry about how the reader will take our words on the screen! I know you’re coming from a good + holy place. No worries!

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