God designed marriage to be an object lesson of the intimacy He desires with each one of us. That includes physical and emotional connection, friendship, and covenant love. But without spiritual intimacy all those other aspects will feel lacking, empty, not enough. How can you find spiritual intimacy with your spouse when you’re not on the same page?
When asked, about 40% of committed Christian couples felt that spiritual conflict or lack of growth spiritually was a major problem in their relationship. This is much deeper than not agreeing on how often to go to church, or wishing your spouse would take faith more seriously. It has to do with what you base your lives – and your marriage – on.
When spiritual conflict is present, how can you move toward spiritual intimacy with your spouse?
Learn to Feed Yourself
Expecting your spouse to be your spiritual fuel is a setup for disappointment. You can’t expect your wife to do your praying for you, or wait for your husband to display the kind of spiritual hunger you think he should. Your spouse is not your source: God is.
Regardless of your spouse’s spiritual state, God holds you responsible for your own heart, attitude, and behavior. It’s before Him that you stand or fall. His opinion of you is the only one that ultimately counts.
So learn to feed yourself. If your spouse is not walking with God as you believe he/she should it’s even more important that you intentionally nurture your own relationship with God. You need His wisdom, strength, and guidance. You need to stay connected to the Source of love in order to be able to love your spouse well.
Get around healthy believers. Feed your own soul with uplifting media. Be relentless in your own time with God. If you are prickly, critical, and miserable, why would your spouse want more of what you are seeking? Do what you need to do in becoming more like Jesus. Who you are, who you become, as a result of the Holy Spirit doing His work in you will be the most important advertisement for a deeper walk with God that your spouse will see.
Let God Do His Work
Remember, the only one you can control in your marriage is you. Don’t try to play Junior Holy Spirit to your spouse! Using God-talk to try to manipulate, leaving subtle (or not-so-subtle) hints, quoting Scripture as a club – those tactics only create barriers between you and make it harder for your spouse to hear God’s voice.
God works uniquely in each person’s heart and life. God knows your spouse even better than you do, and He loves him/her even more than you do. He knows even better than you the history that brought your spouse to where they are now, and the journey they need to go on to become who He created them to be. Remember that just as it is for you, it’s before God that your spouse stands or falls. You can trust Him.
If you’re trying to “make” your spouse more spiritual, you may be the biggest hindrance to their spiritual journey. Take your grubby hands off your spouse, and let God do what He wants to do in them!
Yes, stay on your knees. Ask God to do His work in your spouse’s life. When bad behavior is happening you may need to set some boundaries and have some difficult conversations. Just make sure you let God be God.
There are times when your spouse’s toxic or evil heart necessitates that you move away. In every other situation, pursue intimacy. Seek to understand your spouse’s heart. Seek God’s perspective on your spouse, your marriage, yourself. Ask, What’s it like to be married to me?
Those things may not sound all that spiritual. But loving your spouse well is the most spiritual thing you can do. You are serving God just as much when you are doing the dishes, listening with an open heart to your spouse’s feelings, or making love to him/her as you are praying or going to church.
Make the choice to move closer to your spouse. Imagine yourself in your spouse’s shoes. See yourself as continually creating an invitation for your spouse to want to follow you as you move closer to Christ. Don’t wait for your spouse to initiate. If he/she is open, you initiate praying together. Hang out with other couples who are growing in Christ.
So here’s the foundation question for you to keep praying about, and keep moving toward:
Who does God need me to be to my spouse in this season?
Be the invitation your spouse needs. This kind of spiritual intimacy in your marriage takes investment, just as physical and emotional intimacy does. And it’s worth it.
Your Turn: How would you grade the spiritual intimacy between you and your spouse? What roadblocks to spiritual intimacy might you have put in place? What are you going to do about removing those roadblocks? Leave a comment below.
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