Photo by Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash
Photo by Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash

Parenting in an Unequally Yoked Marriage


I am a Christian but my husband is not.  After an injury and job loss he began to drink heavily and my friends say he’s an alcoholic.  We’ve never agreed on parenting issues and he displays unhealthy behavior around our 11-year-old son, who likes to imitate him.  He doesn’t think there is a problem.  How can I raise my son to be a godly young man and not become a contentious, nagging wife?


First of all, contact your pastor to find a licensed marriage and family counselor who is also trained in dealing with chemical dependency issues.  Also, find your closest Celebrate Recovery program and become a regular attender.  You’ll find practical, biblical wisdom, support, and encouragement.

The next step is for you to remain as strong and healthy as possible.  Don’t overlook the difference that a healthy diet, rest and exercise can make.  Find two or three godly women who love you, who you can trust, talk to, and who will commit to pray for you on a daily basis.

Ask the Lord to bring into your son’s life some men who can show him what a healthy, God-honoring picture of masculinity looks like—men he can respect and admire and who might be willing to spend time with him.  If your dad is a Christ-follower, make sure your son gets plenty of time with him. Get your son involved in a youth program at your church.

As his mom, you can be praying with and for him. Let your son see you living out a joyful faith in Christ as you pray, read Scripture, engage with and serve others, especially in the midst of difficult times.  As you cultivate your relationship with God and live that out in front of your son, you’ll be helping him cultivate a heart for God.

While you and your husband won’t see eye to eye on many issues, you can love him in a Christlike way. You can pray for him, offer unconditional love and forgiveness, and show him what it means to follow Christ. The book Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage by Lee and Leslie Strobel is an excellent resource to help you do this.

You have some difficult choices ahead of you and surrounding yourself with godly prayer-warriors will be a daily reminder that you aren’t alone, that your Lord has promised to never leave you or forsake you.  Throughout the process remember that you, your son, and your husband are precious in God’s eyes.  He loves each one of you and wants to bless you.  God isn’t just a promise-maker.  He is also the original promise-keeper.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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