It’s a bond that can seem mysterious and elusive – but it’s one that is essential to have the marriage that God intended for you. So today we have a question for you: Are you and your mate on the same page spiritually?
It’s relatively easy to understand the emotional intimacy that creates a heart-to-heart bond as well as the physical intimacy that brings a couple together body-to-body. But every couple also needs soul-to-soul closeness. If you want to enjoy the deepest level of connection, you need to develop spiritual intimacy in your relationship.
Bonding spiritually can be a puzzling area for husbands and wives. Even if you both set a goal to grow together spiritually, you may have difficulty deciding how to get there. And if only one of you wants to pursue spiritual depth in your relationship, you will face additional struggles.
But here’s what you need to know: Spiritual intimacy occurs when you as husband and wife surrender your lives and relationship to the Lord. You grow together spiritually when you live out your marriage relationship according to God’s ways and aim to please him in all things.
The sad truth is, most of our world doesn’t understand spiritual intimacy in marriage. And sadly, many Christian couples haven’t grasped this profound truth either. But when husbands and wives truly begin to understand the significance of a marriage of three, their relationships begin to flourish.
So how do you know if your marriage is lacking spiritual intimacy? Here are some telltale signs you’re missing spiritual intimacy in your relationship:
- You may experience conflict in many areas. The spiritual dimension provides the foundation for how the game of life is to be played. It’s tough to play well in marriage if you and your spouse don’t equally value God and Scripture. You wouldn’t want to play a game of baseball if people didn’t agree on the rules. It’s true of marriage as well.
- You may feel incomplete. You may be on top of your game in every other area of your relationship, but if you don’t connect spiritually, you will always feel like something is missing – because the most important element is missing! Without a spiritual connection you miss out on the closeness and joy God intends. The deepest part of your spouse will go unexplored, leaving the greatest joys of your marriage untapped.
- You may lack a firm foundation for your marriage commitment. The Bible declares marriage to be a sacred, unbreakable union. But without that biblical foundation in your life, it is easy to see marriage as an arrangement of convenience rather than commitment. And when it is no longer convenient, you want out.
- You may lack boundaries for guarding your marriage. The Bible provides absolute standards for right and wrong. God’s people enjoy confidence that the boundaries they live by were erected by a kind and loving God. But without spiritual dimension, your marriage lacks God’s protection and provision.
For many couples, finding spiritual intimacy in their marriage is one of the toughest things they’ve ever tried to do. Many things can stand in the way. From our experience, there are three major hurdles to spiritual intimacy:
- “I don’t have time for spiritual things. We have more pressing issues right now.” Smaller concerns are pressing and urgent, but none is as important as developing spiritual intimacy. Even if your life is in shambles, the most important thing you can do is make room for God.
- “I’m afraid God will expect more than we can do.” Maybe you’re afraid that God will force you to give up something you like and lead you down a painful path. Yes, giving yourselves to God often involves making hard choices regarding your activities and possessions. But remember that his purpose is to “give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). And you can trust him to do that has he shapes you into a couple who lives close to him.
- “My spouse isn’t interested in spiritual matters.” If your spouse is struggling with this whole area, pray for him or her. Share your own convictions if your spouse will listen, and then let God work in his or her heart. God will gradually open your spouse’s spiritual eyes as you obey the scriptural command to win them by a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). Or God will work in your mate’s heart as you treat him or her “with understanding” (1 Peter 3:7). You can be God’s instrument in reaching your spouse. But you must let God do it in his good time.
If you’re in a marriage where you and your spouse are spiritually mismatched – don’t give up! We encourage everyone in an unequally yoked marriage to intercede on behalf of his or her spouse in prayer. Before you try to fix the situation, before you try to express what you think is wrong, before you step into any communication with a spouse who is struggling spiritually – Pray. Perhaps you sense that your spouse is doubting his or her faith or is deeply discouraged; perhaps you fear that the presence of sin is keeping your spouse from intimacy with Jesus Christ. You may not know if your spouse won’t communicate with you. He or she may not even know what’s triggering the problem. The best thing you can do is to pray.
Along with praying for your spouse, be sure to let your spouse know that you’re there for him or her. Be an encouragement. If your spouse is a believer and is struggling in his or her faith, try saying something like, “I sense that you’re faltering, you’re scared, you’re afraid, you don’t have the faith right now, but let me allow you to ride on my faith for awhile.” That can be empowering to your spouse.
First Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Encourage each other and build each other up.” When your spouse is faint at heart, you can be “God with skin on” to him or her. You can comfort, pray with, and encourage your spouse. Besides, somewhere down the road you may hit a dry patch and need your spouse to do the same for you.
Portions of this article were adapted from "6 Secrets to a Lasting Love," Copyright 2006 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, all rights reserved. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., www.tyndale.com. To order this resource or to find our more about Dr. Gary and Barb – Your Marriage Coaches, visit www.drgaryandbarb.com or call 1-888-608-COACH.
Married over 30 years, the parents of two adult daughters and five grandchildren, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg, your marriage coaches, have a unique blend of insight and wisdom that touch people of all ages. Together with Gary's 25,000 hours of counseling experience and Barbara's gift of encouragement and biblical teaching, they are equipping thousands of families across the nation through their interactive daily radio program, conferences, and marriage and family.