I particularly liked this short article on spiritual intimacy from “Biblical Counseling Insights” from the AACC:
There are many ways couples can work to build spiritual intimacy. The following action steps give several of these ways.
- 1. Talk, Listen, and Share
- Spiritual intimacy cannot occur in a relationship unless there is meaningful communication about spiritual matters. Set aside some time each week—even if it is just fifteen minutes—to talk about spiritual growth and the things of God.
- Spouses need to be able to talk about:
- What God is doing—and not doing—in their lives.
- What they have learned about God recently.
- Ways that God is speaking to or leading them.
- Their doubts or faith problems, including any sense of disconnection with God.
- Spiritual areas in which they need improvement.
- Keys for listening include:
- Be attentive to what your spouse is saying.
- Do not condemn or judge your spouse’s struggles or mistakes.
- Be supportive and reassuring, emphasizing God’s mercy and grace.
- If you feel compelled to share a contrasting point of view, share it as your interpretation, not God’s. And don’t make it seem that your spouse has a warped understanding.
- Preaching at your spouse, including pointing out his or her sins or beliefs that seem wrong to you, is not a good way to build spiritual intimacy.
- 2. Pray, Pray, and Pray Some More
- Paul Tournier, in his book To Understand Each Other, writes: “Happy are the couples who do recognize and understand that their happiness is a gift of God, who can kneel together to express their thanks not only for the love which he has put in their hearts, the children he has given them or all of life’s joys, but also for the progress in their marriage which he brings about through the hard school of mutual understanding.”
- It is said that few spiritual endeavors have as great a potential for building spiritual intimacy as praying together.
- If praying together is not your style, or if makes you uncomfortable, you and your spouse can pray separately for each other daily, then talk about what you prayed. It is likely that over time, simply talking about prayer will help you be able to pray together comfortably.
- In addition, the following tips may help minimize any discomfort either of you feel about praying together:
- Try praying together when the two of you are already in a spiritual mindset, such as after a church service or before small group meetings.
- Try praying together when there is less pressure, such as while riding in a car or listening to music or taking a walk or while in a large crowd.
- Try reading the Psalms together. Read a passage, and then pray about the content of the verses. Instead of making up prayers on the spot, find a book of prayers and pray them together.
- Solicit prayer requests from others. Make a list and pray for the specific issues on that list.
- Pray together silently.
- 3. Do Bible Study and Religious and Spiritual Learning
- Many couples find studying the Bible together a comfortable way to build spiritual intimacy.
- The downside is that studying together often takes more time than praying together, and it can feel impersonal if the study is more technical than reflective. Few couples will feel very close studying the ontological argument for God’s existence, for example.
- The key to building spiritual intimacy through religious-spiritual study is bringing in one’s own personal reflection. Ask, how does this particular Scripture convict, encourage, or challenge us? Sharing and listening to each other’s reflections are key components of building spiritual closeness through study.
- 4. Worship and Serve Together
- Worship is a vital part of spiritual intimacy and finding a church where worship brings you directly into the presence of God may be a key goal. Instead of the husband going to a men’s retreat, and the wife to a women’s group, attend religious activities together.
- Make sure you are both actively involved together in your church ministry. This not only includes sitting together during services but also volunteering together and having your marital relationship be a vital part of your identity in the church.
- According to Gary Chapman, “Because service to God is so central in the Christian life, it also plays an important role in developing spiritual intimacy within marriage. Spiritual intimacy greatly increases when a husband and wife serve together.”
Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred. Proverbs 15:17
Other resources: Focus on the Family
Dr. Judith Needham-Penrose PhD, LMFT