June 27th marked the two year anniversary of Carlton and I attending Elevation Church. But it was much more than just a church anniversary for us; truth be told it was actually the anniversary of when we made a decision to open up our marriage to create spiritual intimacy, a type of intimacy that we didn’t even know our marriage needed. I honestly thought that because we went to church regularly and volunteered as a couple in children’s church that we were all good in terms of connecting on a spiritual level. But I was so wrong!! Spiritual intimacy is much more than just attending church together as a couple or serving on a committee, it is connecting together with our faith and living out our COMMITMENT to God and his PURPOSE for our marriage. Our spiritual intimacy began to grow the moment we said YES to our friends’ invitation to visit Elevation Church. It wasn’t necessarily changing churches that increased our spiritual intimacy but rather the shift in our thinking about how being spiritually connected could impact our marriage. The people that surrounded us at our new church helped us see how big of an influence spiritual intimacy can play in growing and strengthening marriages. So ask yourself this question…
“How close are we spiritually as a couple?”
If you’re anything like me and Carlton your answer would probably be “We definitely could be closer.” The pursuit of spiritual intimacy is one that is often forgotten. Somewhere in the mix between keeping up with our careers, making school lunches, and trying to get enough sleep to make it through the day spiritual intimacy can sometimes fall between the cracks. Even when we do have some time to focus on growing closer as a couple it seems that we are always trying to put forth effort to strengthen physical and emotional intimacy but growing together spiritually is many times left out. Maybe it’s because it is less tangible and perhaps a bit harder to tie down. But of course when things get tough in our marriages where do we turn first? That’s right…to GOD! We start praying to God to change our spouse or complaining about all the things going wrong in our marriage….What if we used spiritual intimacy not just when we’re in a crisis but instead use it to get to know our spouse better and connect on a deeper level?
I can distinctly remember when I realized that we weren’t making spiritual intimacy a priority in our marriage. I was sitting in one of our church’s marriage egroup discussions listening to a couple talk about their marriage and the common theme that surrounded their story was spiritual intimacy. I immediately wanted what they had – not in an envious sort of way but in a way that I wanted to find out their “HOW” so Carlton and I could grow our marriage. But before we can get to the HOW we have to begin at the WHY! Why spiritual intimacy?
In short – it is because it’s what we are put on Earth to do. Even before speaking to achieving spiritual intimacy with your spouse, we must first seek intimacy with God for ourselves. In one of our recent devotions we read that we are called as a couple to seek first the kingdom of God. Not to seek first an intimate marriage, a happy life, obedient children, or anything else. This points back to how foundational spiritual intimacy is for us as the central aim of our marriages – not a secondary one. After we have made headway on our individual spiritual connection with God what better way to help his message reach others than to build a strong, faith filled marriage that can be a testament to others?
Beyond that, growing closer spiritually as a couple has other benefits. It will enable you and your spouse to:
- Create oneness between you and your spouse
- See and imitate God’s perfect vision for marriage
- Provide guidance during both seasons of blessings and hardships
Now that we knew the ‘Why’ behind spiritual intimacy and saw the benefits, it was time for us to actually get into the HOW.
There were three main ways that Carlton and I started focusing on to build spiritual intimacy:
- Praying together as a couple & individually. Find time to pray together daily whether it’s before work, in the evening, or simply praying over your meal. Asking your spouse what they need prayer for allows you to see areas where they are feeling particularly vulnerable and gives you insight into what is going on in their life.
- Talk about sermons that you’ve heard and have open dialogue about how it’s applicable to your life. Making a habit of this type of discussion helps to challenge and encourage each other in Christ. It also ensures that neither of you is dozing off during church!
- Read devotionals together to provide a good foundation to stand on when you all may be going through a difficult time. We love to use the YouVersion Bible App to read together and share our thoughts.
These are just a few ways to help make spiritual intimacy a priority in your marriage. Carlton and I are continuously working towards growing closer spiritually and there are times that we do really well and other times that we check in with each other and find that we’ve got to do better. We are a work in progress too!
I challenge you this week to invest in your marriage by finding a few ways to connect spiritually with your spouse and you may just be amazed at the difference it makes!