“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:13
It has been almost 25 years since my husband and I joined a couples small group that was dedicated to growing and strengthening our marriages. Since that time, we’ve learned some effective strategies that have helped us to connect more creatively, consistently and deeply in “our” relationship with Jesus.
Some of them we gleaned from couples who were further along in their spiritual journey together. Some of them we picked up from books and articles. Others we simply stumbled upon in our own day-to-day life. But either way, over the years they’ve become a source of deep joy and spiritual connection for us in our joint pursuit of the Holy, and I pray they will be for you, as well.
12 Ways to Increase Spiritual Intimacy:
1. Make a commitment to each other that you will seek to grow spiritually as a couple. Write it down and add the date. The act of actually putting it in writing makes your commitment more accountable, concrete and absolute in your minds and hearts.
2. Begin praying for/with each other daily and for your marriage regularly. Share personal prayer requests and follow up with each other, asking about how the requests turned out.
3. Call, email or text an inspiring Bible verse, prayer, or affirming thought to each other daily. The timing of these can be vital. Does your spouse have an important meeting, doctor appointment, or is it a special occasion like your anniversary? And never underestimate how powerful these little affirmations can be on the regular, mundane days as well!
4. Begin reading a daily devotional or prayer book for couples and discuss it. You can do this either together or individually. Ideally, you would do this together. But if you aren’t able to, then do it individually and set regular times to discuss what you read and how the Lord is processing it with you.
5. Set spiritual goals as a couple. These can be daily, weekly, monthly, and/or annual goals. For example, your goals could focus on committing to pray more together, memorizing scripture, serving in a ministry together, evangelism, joint daily time with the Lord, etc.
6. Find an area of ministry in which you can participate together as a couple. Serving as a couple has benefits that go beyond bonding, contentment, and peace. There's a sweet intimacy that comes with working together on a service project or giving together to those in need. Couples who embrace God's call to serve others experience an added closeness, and there are special moments and memories that naturally come when you do things together. (Susan Mathis, Serving Together as a Couple)
7. Join a couples Bible study. Regularly discuss what you are learning and how God is working in your life as a result.
8. Read a book or watch a movie together that is faith-based. Talk about what you liked (or disliked), the questions it raised for you, or things you plan to change as a result.
9. Attend faith-based events together. Afterwards, talk about what you learned or liked about it.
10. Share your deeply held hopes or dreams with each other; commit to praying for your spouse’s dreams and doing what you can to make them a reality if at all possible. Even if you can’t directly help them accomplish it, make sure they know you are behind them 100%. According to marriage expert John Gottman, “Understanding the basis of each other’s dreams, each other’s most deeply felt hopes and desires for the future, is one of the most rewarding (and bonding) experiences you can have in a relationship.”
11. Memorize Scripture together. Choose passages that are particularly relevant or meaningful to you, and share why.
12. Develop a regular, frequent, and passionate sex life. We recommend reading together through the book Sheet Music by Kevin Lehman. God gave us this drive to know Him and be known by Him, but He also gave us these sexual longings which mirror how we long to be truly united with our (spouses) and with God – to be truly and wonderfully KNOWN. (Sheila Gregoire, 29 Days to Great Sex Day 27: Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy While You Make Love)
Together, as you seek to grow more spiritually intimate, to thrive and not just survive in your marriage, be encouraged. You’re not alone; other couples share the same struggle. But God is faithful! The simple fact that you took the time to read this blog is evidence that even now He is doing something new in you, through you, and for you. I pray that like Isaiah, you will be aware of it, cooperate with His Holy Spirit, and celebrate the new roadways in the wilderness and the new springs in the desert that a spiritually intimate relationship with Him and with each other can bring to your marriage.
Alisa Grace ('92) serves as the co-director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships where she also co-teaches a class called "Christian Perspectives on Marriage and Relationships." While she speaks and blogs regularly on topics such as dating relationships, marriage, and love, she also loves mentoring younger women and newly married couples, speaking at retreats and providing premarital counseling. Alisa and her husband, Chris, have been married over 30 years and have three wonderful children: Drew and his wife Julia, Natalie and her husband Neil, and their youngest blessing, Caroline.