Miranda J. Chivers - Exploring the Challenges of an Unequally Yoked Marriage
The challenges of the unequally yoked marriage are best understood by someone who has lived this life. Miranda J. Chivers draws her knowledge from both her forty years of experience in two marriages and counseling individuals in her former social work career. An avid researcher and student of the Bible, she is fascinated by cultural diversity and social differences. As our Author of the Day, Chivers tells us all about her book, Unequally Yoked: Staying committed to Jesus and Your Unbelieving Spouse.
Please give us a short introduction to what Unequally Yoked is about.
Unequally Yoked—Staying Committed to Jesus and Your Unbelieving Spouse is a Christian non-fiction self-help book. It addresses the conflicts that arise when a Christian is married to a spouse who is either not a Christian, or who claims to be a believer but doesn’t share their passion for the faith.
The book encourages the reader to re-examine their relationships— both with their spouse and with their faith—from different perspectives. It shows how to live harmoniously with your spouse despite different worldviews.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’m passionate about my faith. But that wasn’t always the case. After a long prodigal journey, I decided to make a full commitment to Jesus. My husband wasn’t interested in joining me in this life change. I couldn’t understand his reluctance. So I pushed, prodded, and preached—but got nowhere. In fact, my actions created problems in our marriage.
I questioned whether our situation was unique or whether I was doing something wrong. I started sharing with other believers—in similar marriages—and comparing our mutual concerns. I discovered that the problems I faced were identical to what others faced—but nobody had answers. I couldn’t find any concrete advice in the marketplace. It felt like this was a secret that no one wanted to talk about.
I thought, “someone needs to start talking about this. Marriages are at stake. ” Then I wondered “Is it possible for two people with no faith in common to have a happy marriage?” After all, one of the core elements of Christianity is sharing our faith with others. If you can’t do that with your life partner, then how do you do Christianity successfully in your life?
As I dug for answers to my many questions, I soon realized that this information could be beneficial to other couples. My knowledge was accentuated both from being a prodigal and living in two very different unequally-yoked marriages. Also, since we were/are still living this unequally-yoked life, I could write from an insider’s perspective. This made for a unique book.
Writing a book was cathartic. It permitted me to explore these challenges at a deeper level. It helped to cement my understanding of the complexity that faith differences bring to a marriage. It also helped both my husband and me to understand the roots of some challenges and develop new strategies to have a healthier marriage.
You used to work as a social worker. How much did your experiences in your former job influence your writing?
Social Workers are perpetually curious. We ask a lot of questions. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying— “every question contains its own solutions.” Social Workers love to dig until we get to the root of an issue. We explore and tear problems apart until solutions manifest. This helps us gain insight, and develop creative resolutions.
Social Workers are very analytical. We can emotionally detach to analyze problems objectively. These skills are helpful to encourage people to examine their dilemma from various viewpoints. In writing this book, all these skills were utilized. I asked many questions, objectively analyzed, and evaluated each problem from different perspectives.
Why do you feel it is important to develop strategies for taking care of your spiritual needs?
Life is hectic. Burn-out happens when you don’t take care of yourself. A happy life is about balance.
We are composed of spirit-soul-body. If we don’t take care of our body, it will not take care of us. The same goes for our spirit and soul. Our soul is composed of our mind, will, and emotions. If we don’t take care of our mental health, we will suffer from depression and anxiety—which can lead to poor physical health.
Our spirit contains our life-force and is our direct communication thread with God. That thread will be nurtured with something—good or bad. It needs to be fed and exercised— just like our body and our soul. If we ignore it, we will feel empty and dissatisfied with life. We will become overwhelmed during a challenge. A faith-filled life is a satisfied, happy and full life.
Unfortunately, often in our hectic lives, the first thing that gets ignored is our spiritual life—easily dismissed because we can’t see the immediate impact on our lives. Slowly, we become frustrated, discouraged—maybe even miserable—but we don’t know why. Our life slowly spirals downward until something breaks.
Practicing good spiritual health contributes positively to both mental health and physical health. If you build healthy strategies into your life, you will be rewarded.
Besides, talking to God is a great stress reliever. He loves to listen to our problems. And if we listen closely, we will get some good advice.
What is the most common problem you have encountered in unequally-yoked relationships?
Personally, the most painful part is being unable to share Scripture readings or pray through challenges together. It’s a significant void. As a couple, Christian terminology is a controversial issue. My spouse was not raised in a Christian home. My Christian terminology sometimes seems judgmental to him. We’ve had some honest discussions on our different perspectives.
Both of these problems are common to many unequally yoked marriages.
You also included a lot of personal stories in this book. Was that hard to do?
Yes, it was.
Personal stories need to be shared in a certain way to protect those you love. Sometimes you can’t tell it all.
Several painful stories included in my first draft never made it to the final cut. Other tales of drama and trauma of my life weren’t relevant to the topic of this book. Perhaps, one day I’ll be able to share those.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
From a physical perspective—the organization of writing is extremely challenging. Previously, I played at writing. I wrote when I had time, and fit it into a hobby category. Writing a book is very different. It’s challenging. You need a writing habit. I needed to structure my life and think about writing every day. It was stressful.
From a spiritual perspective—it was warfare. Fear was my biggest enemy, often paralyzing me. When you know that your words will be read by the world, it’s a scary feeling.
Warfare came in insidious ways. Sometimes the door to my office was too heavy to open, or the air was too tight. I would fall asleep in my chair. Interruptions would happen just as I was ready to work. Serious family, health, and personal problems kicked us over and over.
I spent many hours and days in prayer. Some days I couldn’t write, I could only pray. I have a good spiritual routine. Bible reading and prayer is the first thing on my agenda. That helped me a lot.
I’ve talked to other Christian writers and they tell me warfare is very common. The enemy doesn’t want this content in the marketplace. He will do anything to get you to quit.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
My husband says I’m very analytical and emotional. He thinks I care too much.
But I say—I’m very intuitive and empathic. When someone is suffering, I move into healing mode. I’ve gone through a lot of health challenges—both physical and emotional. Those crises moved me into a deep place where suffering became very spiritual. This has translated into a healing knowledge where I can tap into another’s pain and instinctively help them.
I need to be immersed in nature. I need to touch the grass, smell the water, feel the breeze on my face. However, I don’t like the Canadian winter. I dislike cold.
I love to grow things, especially herbs. Herbs are a requirement—not an option. They go into everything I cook. They perfume the air in my home. I’m a descendant of centuries of agricultural women where life revolved around the garden. It was the most important place in my childhood home. My mother and her mother were master gardeners. I learned so much from them.
Gardening is also a spiritual tool for me. It teaches me about growing in my faith. It must be important. Jesus used it in many of his lessons.
Apparently, I’m a really good cook. Those who say that are biased. I think that is partly based on my prior ownership of about 300 or 400 cookbooks. I’ve painfully released half of those to cookbook heaven. I need to write at least one book about food before I say goodbye to the rest of my collection. I cook instinctively now. I rarely need a recipe anymore. I enjoy watching cooking shows and checking out the newest techniques.
Some readers were surprised about the fact that the book is non-judgemental. Why did you find it important to write it this way?
I’m both surprised and pleased by this response.
Firstly, my husband read everything I wrote. We had many discussions about the content. If he wasn’t happy with how I wrote something, then I needed to rewrite it or have a good reason why it needed to stay.
Secondly, since I believed that God wanted me to write this book, I wanted to reflect Jesus properly. Jesus condemned the act of sin—not the sinner. None of us are perfect. As Christians, we can get so caught up in “churchism” that we forget that basic fact. I didn’t want this to be another Christian book the divides people. This topic is already divisive by implication.
In my experience, many people believe that Christians are judgmental. We can come across that way—probably partly because of our terminology—but we don’t want to be. To reflect Jesus properly, we need to come from a place where we can love and accept others for who they are—recognizing that we are all doing the best we can.
Many Christians believe that your spiritual life will suffer if you are not married to someone who will go to church with you. How do you feel about this?
Marriage is about sharing everything. In a Christian marriage, couples pray together, read the Bible together, and go to church together.
That doesn’t happen in an unequally yoked marriage. You can’t spiritualize your daily trials or pray about these problems with your significant other. That means you have to find a way to feed yourself spiritually. A circle of good Christian friends can give you the spiritual feedback and mentorship that you need. Sometimes, finding that support can be difficult.
I don’t recommend anyone to enter this union lightly. This marriage requires a lot of hard work with many lonely moments. You need to be prepared for the spiritual loneliness.
Tell us about your writing habits. What is an average writing day like for you?
Normally, I have a slow start to my day. Coffee and Bible Reading comes first. Then I check my emails and answer any urgent ones.
In the summer, I like to go for a short walk to talk to God and get my brain moving. After that, I’m ready to sit down at the computer and start working. I’ll generally write or research for a few hours, then take a break. When I’m stuck I read.
At four o’clock, my husband checks in with me. That’s a gentle reminder to take a break and start thinking about dinner. After dinner, I’ll often go back to the computer for a couple of hours.
Unfortunately, I’m temporarily struggling with some physical limitations—my schedule is not as structured as I would like it to be.
What has surprised you most from the reactions you have gotten from readers of the book so far?
I’m very surprised at the number of positive comments, especially those that say the book is non-judgmental. After all, this is my first book.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve always got too many irons in the fire.
I do want to complete a proper study guide to go with my book. I have a beta version on my website, but it needs to be rewritten properly. It will get done this year.
I’m also working on a devotional and prayer journal. I want this to be comprehensive, meaningful and inspiring. God willing, this will be completed next year.
Thirdly, I’m taking a fiction course and doing research for a historical fiction novel. My life has been full of so much drama. It’s impossible to tell all the stories. Nor do I want to. The wonderful thing about fiction is that one can fictionalize real life. It’s too early to know whether or not I will succeed. If I crash and burn, then I’ll revert to memoirs and more non-fiction.
If I don’t try, I’ll never know. As long as I am alive, I will continue to explore new avenues of learning. Hopefully, I will find a few faithful followers to walk this road with me.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Readers can reach me via my website athttps://www.mirandajchivers.com
My website is where I blog about living the Christian life.https://www.mirandajchivers.com
I also have two Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/mirandajchivers This page is updated regularly. It contains info on this book, my blog, and weekly positive and uplifting scriptures. This is where I post information about my future projects.
https://www.facebook.com/bookunequallyyoked This page is devoted specifically to this book and relevant contents.
My Amazon page is located at