This article is a transcript of a video interview I did with my wife Michelle on being Unequally Yoked as a couple.
The transcript is not polished. I only did minor editing to clean it up a bit. This is us ‘unplugged and raw.’
Here’s the Interview
If you prefer to listen to the interview, click the button below:
The video is at the bottom of the page if you want to watch.
Hey this is Joseph from the Healthy Marriage and I’m here today with my wife Michelle and I have some questions I want to ask her on a specific topic.
This is kind of us unplugged a little bit. I did send her an email with these questions, so she could think about it, but we are pretty much unplugged here.
Michelle has a ministry to women. You can find that at MichelleLeeNolan.com. I’ll have the link below this video, but she’s a big part of what we do at The Healthy Marriage and I lean on her a lot to get feedback.
One of the subjects that comes up frequently in her ministry to women is the issue of being unequally yoked. There’s a scripture I believe it’s in 2nd Corinthians 6:14 where Paul says: “Don’t be unequally yoked together.” That’s a pretty neat word picture and I’ll have Michelle explained that in just a minute, but I wanted to ask her in all the times you deal with women, this subject seems to come up frequently.
So, I guess my first question would be what does that means in terms of marriage – to be un-equalled in your relationship.
What does It Mean To Be Unequally Yoked?
Michelle: Well, the picture is actually a biblical picture kind of two oxen that are pulling a plow together and so how I would probably say in marriage you could narrow it down to we’re kind of missing and not staying in step with one another, right?
And so one person is not walking at the same pace that the other person is.
How Important Is It To Be In Sync?
Joseph: How important do you think it is that we walk in sync together? I mean, I know you do a lot with women, so obviously it’s an issue that comes up. I’m sure that there’s varying degrees of it, but how important is it that we’re yoked together properly?
Michelle: It’s so important because the entire aspect of staying equally yoked is that it creates unity. It creates an environment so we can grow together, and so we can stay in step.
Joseph: If you read the blog a lot you realize one of the issues we’re big on is trust. Having a safe place and being in a relationship that provides you emotional security and emotional safety. I can see why being in sync builds on that platform.
Can You Give Us An Example of Being Unequal in Marriage?
Joseph: Can you give me an example? I know of course you won’t use names and all of that, but give me an example of someone you’ve dealt with, or a situation you encountered, or someone came to you and they were in a situation that was out of sync and unequaled.
Michelle: Well, I have dealt with so many women over the years, I can think of one situation where a young woman came and we pray together. She really had a spiritual hunger and she dedicated her life spiritually to Christ. She began to grow quite rapidly. Her husband would attend church periodically, but he wasn’t really very interested at all in spiritual things.
He was curious about her faith, but didn’t really want to join in. What happened was, as she began to grow, it caused them to go even further away than before she had even dedicated her life to Christ.
Joseph: So, they were out of sync in the first place and this just fueled to the fire, right?
What’s the Emotional Toll of Being Unequal?
Joseph: So what’s the emotional toll that that takes on a relationship when you’re not in sync and you’re unequal together? How does that affect women emotionally?
Michelle: Well, I think it’s a problem. It’s one of those things that really is not addressed a lot and it’s not spoken a lot about (in the church). And there’s a lot of silent suffering because it’s one thing to be lonely when you’re alone.
It’s another thing to experience a loneliness and a deep loneliness in the relationship that is supposed to meet a great amount of needs in your life. Not all of them but a great amount.
So probably that alone – that alone-ness – and the sting of that loneliness.
Joseph: We’ve talked before about the difference in being lonely and being alone. Being alone carries such a significant tone of isolation. I’m sure that’s kind of how it feels.
What Should You Do If You Are In An Unequal Marriage?
Joseph: What can you do, or what should you do, if you’re in an unequaled relationship with your spouse?
Michelle: I think my advice would be – sometimes you know with women – this doesn’t probably come across like a real spiritual answer, but one thing I wouldn’t do is encourage them to go slow. Not just a ‘no holes barred’ barreling in to every Bible study or every single aspect of spiritual growth while leaving their spouse, who’s not even sure if they want to be a believer, behind.
I want you to understand my heart. I’m saying that spiritual growth is an aspect of our life, we all have a soul whether we’re believers or not.
So you want to grow spiritually. But you don’t want to rapidly leave your spouse behind while you’re barreling ahead. I would say focus on in your relationship, what can you build on?
Do you like to hike together? Do you like to bowl together? Do you like to have friends over and play cards?
Do you like to watch movies together? Do you have a good friendship outside of the spiritual aspect?
I would say maybe you have intellectual conversation that stimulates something in both of you and you can share that together.
Joseph: Right. So that is quite contrarian to what you would expect somebody to say. You’re not saying don’t grow, right? You’re saying let’s work on maintaining and cultivating that connection.
What’s The Best Way To Approach Your Spouse?
Joseph: How could a woman so, or what’s the best way to approach your husband to say, “I feel a gap here and I want to close the gap.” What’s the best way to do that?
Michelle: First and foremost I always think that you either have people at “hello” or you don’t. Many times we get really familiar with our spouses and when frustration starts to build we don’t usually have them at hello.
Because when great needs start setting in, we get really comfortable and we can come across to them not as sweet as we would with the store clerk. Or brother “so and so” at church. Or sister “so and so” at church. So the first thing is being very aware of your approach.
Secondly, I would say it’s more stating what you need rather, than what you’re not getting from them. Not making them feel attacked or that they’re not doing something right. Maybe the aspect of this is saying what I’m needing in my life right now and this is what I’m Hoping that you can see this, and hear me, and help provide this in our in our relationship.
Joseph: Most of the time I think that’s sufficient. In fact, most of the men I know really want to have a connection with their spouse. So I think most of the time that’s going to work.
What If You Are Married To A Stubborn or Rebellious Person?
Joseph: I’m going to ask a very tough question: What if you are married to your husband and he is just stubborn and rebellious. And no matter what your approach, you seem to either at best get a cold shoulder, or at worse, you get verbal abuse. What then? What do you do with that?
Michelle: Well, sometimes you do have situations where you just kind of come to a crossroads. It’s like you’re having the same conversation over and over but it’s not going anywhere.
I would say, “Pray. Pray. And pray. And and really do some internal inventory. Do work on you first. And really pray for your spouse.
I can give you a scriptural example from first Peter chapter 3 where it talks about when you’re dealing with your husband “if they don’t believe the word without your words, let your great fear of the Lord and your chaste disposition and your discretion in your wisdom be a witness to him. Then that behavior – that you’re honoring God and honoring him – will speak so much louder than our ten thousand words a day.
I got a lot of words (laugh). Yeah we have a lot of words girls, so but that’s not the thing that’s gonna win them over. I would say pray for him and pray for you.
Then there’s another example scripturally about a man named Nabal and his wife named Abigail. This man was a fool. I’ve heard it said that in every man there is a king and a fool.
And in every woman there is a queen and let’s say a brat. Although I can think of some other saying girls. You always call one of those out of them.
Well in this scriptural story of Nabal and Abigail, Nabal is a Fool. He’s a very rich, selfish man that loves to have a few beers at night and when he has those, more of what is in him comes out.
Abigail is a God-fearing woman. She loves God and she honors people that are called by God.
In this story – to wrap it up in a short version – David is this king and Nabal doesn’t want to help him . David has honored him, protected his property, protected his men.
David has a way to where he’s like, “What?” Who is this fool?
Well Abigail intervenes, because she’s a wise woman. She tempers the entire situation.
Joseph: She diffuses it.
Michelle: Yes. she diffuses it. She not only does that, she really preserves her husband. And she preserves David. They both respect her, but I would say once again with both of these men, you’re having people at “hello” and the way you present your situation or case is gonna matter.
Joseph: She was a very wise woman and how she went about not completely just dissing her husband, but honoring the king and maintaining this peace among them a very wise way.
So disposition does matter. And it means more than we give you credence to.
When do you seek legal help?
Joseph: When do you seek legal help?
Michelle: When there’s a situation and you are dealing with issues that are either illegal or there’s physical abuse. Physical slash emotional abuse.
I can tell you over the years, some of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve heard where I’ve had to say, “You have you have to leave. You have to get out.” Because it was either a case where there was so much abuse, or there was illegal activity going on that was going to incriminate their spouse.
There is a time for that. And it’s necessary for God to either do a work on your spouse, so that a time of separation can come and you can see if there’s going to be some growth, and there’s going to be some potential hope in that relationship, right?
What Are Some Things You Can Do For You?
Joseph: Before you mentioned about doing things for you; taking care of you. What are some things you can do for you? If you’re in that situation, what do you do for you?
Michelle: Well it can feel like a vacuum if you’re in that kind of situation. Our relationship with our spouse is the longest relationship that we will have outside of being a mother and a father to our children. The reality is our children are going to leave. A they’re supposed to. That’s an aspect that’s really healthy. If you’re clinging to your children because you don’t have the marriage you want with their father or their mother at some point that’s going to implode.
So, if the relationship with your spouse is not really at the level you’re really desiring, I would say there’s several things; because our spouse is not the only need that we have in our life. Although, whenever that’s disappointing and dissatisfied it can feel like you’re in a vacuum.
Recognize the other avenues that meet your needs. Recognize hobbies. Friendships. Exercise groups that you can be part of.
Extending your education. Even growing in your vocation and what it is that you want to do.
Those needs in our lives can be met through a lot of different avenues. Great friendships. Bible study groups and those kind of things.
What Are Tools You Recommend?
Joseph: What are some tools you would you like to leave people with? If you could say, “Hey, check this out if you’re really struggling.” What are some resources that you’ve recommended in the past and that you think are really good for people?
Michelle: There’s some different resources over the years that I have recommended.
One of which is the Boundary series by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. They are wonderful.
There’s ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.’ I think is that title of a book
The Five Love Languages is another. There’s so many tools that can help you understand you. And help you understand your spouse.
One thing that I have discovered is to go on a self-discovery. In a healthy manner.
Sometimes you don’t even realize when you are bleeding over into codependent things. You’re just in process of like, “Well, if they would just take my tools… if they would just take my help and my advice… or if I could just leave these scriptures all over their pillow… they would want to read the Bible.
You know that kind of stuff. It can be very well-meaning, but there can be a fine line of manipulation that can come with that.
It often comes out of great need, but it’s really ineffective. It doesn’t work. Usually they end up resenting it. So, I would say, if you can really look inward and start doing that work, and see who you want to become, and what you desire as an individual person.
I think striving for an interdependent relationship versus a codependent relationship is really healthy.
Sometimes I’m feeling like I need this, or I need to do this, and you know, sometimes in unhealthy relationships, we don’t really come to the table going, “This is what I need. This is what I need to do for me.”
Joseph: It’s important to be transparent. It breaks my heart that there are people we deal with on a regular basis, I know Michelle does, that are in relationships where they don’t feel that freedom to just be transparent.
They can’t say: “Hey, I’m feeling a gap here. Let’s close it together.”
I want to mention just a couple of resources because I’m a big fan of the material that Dr. Lee Baucom has put together called, “Save the Marriage System.”
If your marriage is at a point where you’re really struggling and you need some help, it’s a great starting point. He covers the eight stages of a marriage crisis. My the big takeaway from that was what works on one stage will not work on the other stages.
We tend to have one bullet in our gun so to speak, and we approach every problem the same. He will help you get beyond that and know exactly what to do. There’s a link below to that program.
We’re in the process of putting together our very first Healthy Marriage Conference/Retreat. It will probably be held here in Middle Tennessee. We will put some information on the website for that so check that out.
Michelle, thanks for answering my questions. You do a great job. She’s a wonderful wife and we have a healthy marriage, so I hope this helped you.
Let us know.
Leave us some comments below. Thanks.
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