Seeking an authentic marriage

He, an atheist, dumped me, a Christian.

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Divorce can be difficult, but getting dumped by my next significant other can be toxic to your spirit.

Finding joy after divorce and in marriage and relationships is an occasional topic on my regular podcast, Positively Joy. Listen to several episodes on the subject on this playlist. But for now, let me tell you a true story.

I divorced in 2003 and became friends with a great guy. He was charming, handsome and funny. He liked the same things I did. He understood my work. We spent six committed years together. It was a match made in …

Not heaven. I’m Christian and this fellow was an Atheist.

I fell in love with an Atheist. How was that even possible? Well, I’ll tell you how. In my younger years, I men I was strongly attracted to did not share my faith.

I was raised Catholic, and went to Catholic Church the first 28 years of my life. I eventually started going to Episcopalian Church and was “received” into that faith. I never converted from Catholicism, and I have fond memories of my childhood church on Chicago’s South Side. I went to Catholic elementary and high school. I was a church girl, but finding suitable dates proved difficult.

Before my first marriage I dated Christians who were not committed to their beliefs. Later, I dated a scientist non-believer, then a man who was raised Mennonite but who had fallen away from the church. Much later, I dated a man who literally lived across the street from a church but did not believe.

My first husband called himself an Agnostic. That, according to, is “a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.” I say called himself because he never professed to that dictionary reference, but said he believed in a supreme being but not in organized religion. Still, he occasionally frequented the Unitarian Universalist church and asked that I come with him instead of going to my Catholic church.

The Unitarian church was a great place to find fellowship. The people were really nice, but I didn’t feel spiritually fed. When he stopped going with me, I began to search that would fit my authentic Me. I found the Episcopalians.

You know, it would make sense that I would find my true love in church. I spent enough time there, at events, in meetings, serving. But it just didn’t happen.

Even when I did find a guy in a singles group at my church many years ago, he cheated on me with another girl at a church overnight camp. That added insult to injury.

A Christian counselor I started seeing when my first husband and I began having troubles, told me we were “unequally yoked.” That is a phrase from the Bible. In 11 Corinthians 6:14–16 it says:

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

When I divorced and found the next man — the atheist — I just knew I would marry him. I went all in. I think that is why the fall was so hard. I knew, deep down, I would never change him and he would never become the Christ-led man I needed. But we were so compatible in every way … except what was most important. While we had fun, enjoyed each other’s company, loved talking to each other and even read books together, it didn’t last.

It didn’t last because it wasn’t built on a stable foundation. That foundation is loving God. The week after he told me he no longer loved me, I couldn’t sleep. I feared growing old alone. Dying alone.

I think — no, I know — I was running to relationships after my divorce. It took an 18-month sabbatical away from men and toward Christ that helped me see what was important.

It’s a long story, but I remarried in 2017 on Good Friday. Read about that here. My man is Godly and shares my faith. We go to church most Sundays, something I made him commit to before we married. It wasn’t a hard sell, he was already a strong believer and went to church.

Today we are the epitome of a happy older couple, even though we’ve only had seven years together. I don’t anticipate a “seven-year itch.” What’s the lesson?

Be equally yoked in relationships, especially in marriage.

Opposites do attract. My goodness, they do. I can tell you from experience. But a strong foundation in whatever faith you share is the glue that can keep you together.



Yvette Walker of the Positively Joy podcast

Walker is the host of Positively Joy, a multicultural podcast that takes a mostly Christian look at the search for light in all seasons.