Friday, June 22, 2012

Fostering Spiritual Intimacy in Marriage

            When most people hear “intimacy,” they only think about the physical side of it.  But true intimacy is multifaceted, and spiritual intimacy is a key component of a healthy intimate connection with your mate.  Just as with most other aspects of marriage, there are behaviors that can enhance spiritual intimacy and behaviors that can destroy spiritual intimacy between a husband and wife.
            In this post, we’ll look at seven specific things you can do to enhance spiritual intimacy with your mate, and in the next post we’ll note five things that can quickly destroy spiritual intimacy.

7 Ways to Enhance Spiritual Intimacy:
  1. Pray together.  Nothing will open up spiritual intimacy faster than shared prayer where you are completely honest with God before each other.  (See the posts from April 2, May 17, and June 18 for some of the various aspects of a couple’s prayer life together.)
  2. Worship together.  I know spouses can have widely varying beliefs and practices.  I know spouses can sometimes be at radically different places in their own spiritual journeys.  But when we come before God in uninhibited worship and praise, we unite our own hearts with the Creator and at least touch on the Edenic ideal of husband, wife, and God in a holistic relationship.
  3. Find a shared ministry.  When you use your God-given gifts together to serve others, something incredible happens.  Whether it’s through a program at your church, a local charity/ service organization, or something you do on your own, such as helping the little old widow lady who lives next door, if you and your spouse do it together it will bring you together spiritually.
  4. Sacrificial living within the marriage context.  Sometimes we become so comfortable with our spouses that we begin to take them for granted.  We forget that marriage is about the pursuit of holiness as a couple in a covenant relationship with each other and with God, not about the pursuit of a self-centered happiness that treats your partner as if his/her only job is to serve your "needs."  In mutual sacrificial living toward each other, you’ll find joy flowing from your spirit toward your mate (and you're more likely to get your real needs fulfilled in a much more satisfying way).
  5. Being Christ-like to your spouse first.  I’m amazed at how often a husband can demean and berate his wife without thinking twice, but treat a clerk at the grocery store with the greatest of grace and patience.  Or, how a wife can be screaming at her husband and when the phone rings, turn off the angry tone and speak as sweet as honey.  We should be Christ-like toward others, but we should always be practicing our faith at home with our own spouses first and foremost.
  6. Forgiveness, grace, mercy, and patience.  Of all the ways we do practice our faith at home first and foremost, these four are often the most critical.  When we begin to master these virtues, our spiritual intimacy with our mates will flourish.
  7. Shared trials.  Obviously, this is the path to spiritual intimacy that anyone would least like to take.  But, if you practice marriage as “one flesh,” if you seek mutual holiness over self-centered happiness, if you find a safe harbor in each other in which you can be transparent and authentic—warts and all—shared trials can ultimately enhance your spiritual intimacy.
            Spiritual intimacy allows a couple to grow closer to each other as they grow closer to God.  There are certainly other things that you might be able to add to this list (if so please share them in the comments section below so that others can benefit from it), but just make sure you are doing something to intentionally move toward a holistic relationship of husband, wife, and God.

  There are still a few spots left for our August 31-Sept. 2
Marriage Enrichment Weekend
at Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn
Email to reserve a spot or for more info

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