Deepen The Spiritual Intimacy in Your Marriage pt. I
Characteristics of a
Spiritually Intimate Marriage
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed… Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
My husband Chris and I had been married about eight years when we formed a small group with our best couple-friends to encourage each other in our marriages. For the most part, we were all happily married, but life in the trenches with toddlers, full-time work, and graduate school was beginning to take a toll. Cracks were beginning to develop in our foundations. Chris and I, in particular, knew we needed to pay closer attention to our relationship to survive this all-consuming season of life! But the truth was we wanted to do more than just survive; we wanted to thrive! We wanted to live out a relationship with each other that was stronger, deeper, more fun and more intimately connected. So we met together with our friends to start reading and discussing books on the topic of marriage.
After just a few weeks it was clear that each of us as couples differed somewhat in our areas of strengths and areas of “opportunities for growth.” Some of us communicated better or managed in-laws more adeptly than others. Some managed their money well while others of us…didn’t. But interestingly, there was one area where we all struggled, one that we all agreed was really difficult: spiritual intimacy. While each of us had a strong individual walk with the Lord, we had a hard time trying to figure out how to share our spiritual journey as spouses.
As we have counseled with thousands of couples over the last 25 years, spiritual intimacy continues to be a common struggle for many. Rarely do we hear anyone say, “Spiritual intimacy is definitely our strong point. We’ve totally nailed that area!”
Perhaps you and your spouse find yourselves in that same position of surviving, but not thriving – especially spiritually. For others, you may not even be surviving. In fact, this area of your relationship may not exist at all. For us, this was especially discouraging. We were long-time believers, attending church regularly and working fulltime at a Christian university. We often thought, “Of all people, we should have this together by now!” We found ourselves feeling discouraged and embarrassed to admit it – even to our closest friends.
But through our small group meetings, we began to learn some key principles that gave us a new perspective and a renewed hope. So take heart! God is the source of hope (Romans 15:13), and He is in the business of making all things new, especially your spiritual relationship!
“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
4 Key Principles We Have Learned About Spiritual Intimacy:
- A spiritually intimate marriage is about having a strong commitment to Jesus as the hallmark and foundation of your marriage.
“Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” – Ephesian 2:20-21
- Spiritual intimacy is the process of opening your hearts (the core aspects of yourselves) to each other as you open your hearts to the Lord.
- It is the process of profoundly connecting the core of your being to each other without giving up your own self. We mutually experience closeness with God through our relationship with Jesus Christ. This joint spiritual connection creates a strong and powerful emotional and physical closeness with one another unlike anything else.
- Spiritual intimacy may best be thought of as the power of the Holy Spirit being experienced and released in your relationship.
Characteristics of A Spiritually Intimate Marriage:
A spiritually intimate marriage, where Jesus is not just valued, but He is Lord, will be characterized by…
- Two people committed to growing in their relationship with God (both personally and as a couple)
- An openness of heart toward your spouse – feeling safe to open up and reveal who you really are while trusting that the other person will still love, value and unconditionally accept you (Dr. Greg Smalley)
- Shared core spiritual values, purposes and goals
- A consistent prayer life (both for and with your spouse) – prayer facilitates intimacy and vulnerability between you and your spouse
- A shared commitment to studying and memorizing God’s Word and living it out daily
- A passionate, romantic sex life
In Part 2 of this blog, we’ll explore 12 creative, practical, easy-to-apply strategies that you and your spouse can implement to start seeing a real change in how you connect with each other and with the Lord.
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.