When your partner loses faith

After Stina Kielsmeier-Cook’s husband became a none, she reached out to some neighborhood nuns.

Over the last nine years, various parishioners have left the church where I serve as rector. The most troubling exits aren’t those of people who are uncomfortable with the de­nomination, who dislike me personally, or who disagree with a policy or a doctrine. The departures that keep me awake at night are those of people who no longer believe. Such members unfailingly reassure me before they leave that they care about me and other members; they simply can’t participate without belief. They’ve joined those who list their religion as “none.”

As painful as these departures are, I imagine it would be far more difficult to experience the deconversion of a family member—especially an intimate partner. This is the subject of Stina Kielsmeier-Cook’s new book, an in-depth exploration of how her husband’s loss of faith has affected her and shaped her own spirituality.

The couple met at Wheaton College, where they read the Bible together and discovered that “our shared belief in God was the deepest part of our connection.” But several years into their marriage, between the births of their two children, Josh stopped believing—and the author suddenly found herself in a mixed-faith marriage. How could she faithfully continue in this union? She writes, “After so much time in Protestant churches that center on the traditional Christian family, I don’t want a self-help guide on how to pray my husband back to faith. Instead, I need hope that my interfaith marriage isn’t an affliction I need to bear but a vehicle through which God can move.”