Spending time with God, together with our spouse, is one of the hardest things most Christian couples face. Whether it’s full schedules, interruptions from kids, fear of being vulnerable or spiritual warfare, pursuing God together is very hard in most marriages, including mine.
In Part 1 of this two-part series, we saw that:
- part of our problem is in how we define ‘spiritual intimacy’ – it’s much more than doing devotions together;
- that we can learn a lot about pursuing spiritual intimacy together by thinking about how we can pursue it individually
Applying Insights From Our Personal Walk With God To Our Marriage
In this post, we’ll bend the approach (from Part 1) toward our individual spiritual intimacy with God toward spiritual intimacy in our marriages.
After all, Paul says that God created our marriage to reflect his love for us in Christ. After speaking of the way husbands and wives become ‘one flesh’, he says that while ‘this mystery is profound… I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church’ (Ephesians 5:31, 32).
In other words, because the way husbands and wives (ideally) relate to each other mirrors the way God relates to us, we should expect similar contours for what spiritual intimacy looks like in each.
And we do.
With the Lord, we found that our personal devotions can be special times of spiritual intimacy, but that each moment of our lives can, too.
In healthy marriages, we should definitely have moments where we seek God together, for example, in prayer. Our connection with him is deepened during seasons where our marriages flourish. (And weakened when they are not.)
But there’s more, isn’t there?
After a frustrating day at work, for example, I came home grouchy. But (my wife) Sharon showed me kindness and gave me a hug. Not just as a ‘random act of kindness’ but because the Spirit lives inside of her (Galatians 5:22). She didn’t share a bible verse or pray out loud for me, but this furthered our spiritual intimacy because she so clearly reflected Christ’s own love and grace toward me in that moment.
So, just like our intimacy with God involves much more than individual acts of devotion, so too our spiritual intimacy in marriage involves much more than acts of devotion we perform together. It can happen at any moment, in a million ways, as we live normal life together.
Good News If You Find It Hard To Have Devotions With Your Spouse
Understanding spiritual intimacy in our marriages can happen at any moment is really, really good news.
It means that, even if we find reading the bible or praying together incredibly hard, we can still be deepening the spiritual intimacy in our marriage. If you’re representing Christ to your spouse faithfully (not perfectly), you are heading in the right direction. You’re not a failure, and you shouldn’t let your struggles with joint devotional practices define you. Any more than you would in your own, individual walk with God.
Remember, God can’t love you any more if you have perfect (LOL) devotional times, and he can’t love you any less if you completely fail. He loves you ‘because… even when we were dead in our trespasses [he] made us alive together with Christ—by grace [we] have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:4, 5). In other words, God loves us because of what Jesus did for us, not because of our performance. This is the hardest truth in the universe to accept, but also the most freeing.
Stay Humble & Press Forward Toward Spiritual Intimacy
Of course, there’s also a challenge here. While God loves us apart from our performance, that shouldn’t make us lazy or indifferent to things – like bible reading or prayer – he’s called us to. It may help to remind ourselves that these aren’t things we ‘have’ to do so much as one of God’s major ways of relating to us. Of deepening the love he’s already showered upon us. So, there is an important place for worshiping God together as husband and wife.
But even if you’re already consistent in devotional times with your spouse, this broader view of spiritual intimacy should humble you. Even if you’re praying daily with your spouse, for example, there are many moments in your marriage where you may not be representing Christ well. That’s definitely true for me. These areas call us to humbly keep seeking Christ for help as we pursue spiritual intimacy in ways that are subtle, yet crucial.
In closing, if you weren’t there already, I hope that your view of spiritual intimacy in marriage has become much bigger through this (admittedly imperfect) post. While we should definitely seek out moments where we pray or read scripture with our spouse, we can always work on spiritual intimacy in other ways, too. Ironically, as we come to believe that God has lavished his grace upon us apart from our devotional practices, we’re freed to pursue them, with our spouse, as a grateful response.
How would remembering that spiritual intimacy is much more than joint devotional practices with your spouse be helpful to you (both)? On the other hand, do you need to consider beginning a regular time of devotion with your spouse? Let us know in the comments below.
For more ideas on how you can specifically pursue spiritual intimacy with your spouse, please see my guest post Six Ways To Pursue Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage over at Desiring God.