Marriages are interesting. Each one is unique. Yet there are many shared experiences as well. Most married couples express similar strengths and challenges. What are yours?
One challenge Chuck and I have seen and experienced first hand is that of maintaining spiritual intimacy as a couple. What is spiritual intimacy? It’s the relationship with our faith, experienced together. Sometimes it comes easily for couples, but our experiences have revealed that most couples face seasons (or regular difficulty) around talking about spiritual matters with their spouse.
Spiritual intimacy isn’t the only challenge we face, however. Many couples report a deficit in physical intimacy as well. Many times this comes from a build up of distance in the relationship.
One partner may go on strike and refuse to initiate or respond to physical advances. Another individual may feel rejected and too discouraged to pursue their partner. Regardless of the cause, distance works the same. It makes the relationship feel different, discouraging.
Do you see a similarity between physical and spiritual intimacy? Both are vulnerable. We do not always feel safe to let down our guard and allow another person to truly see us. How do we respond when we feel guarded? We block ourselves off, protecting ourselves from risk, preventing ourselves from connection.
So. All of us could agree. We want to experience true physical intimacy. Most of us would agree that we also want to experience spiritual intimacy with our partner. But what prevents us from getting there?
Fear. Uncertainty. ______.
You fill in the blank.
We do not want to be rejected...restated a little differently...we FEAR being rejected. Our fear sometimes helps us. But many times, it causes us to fulfill our own fears.
If we fear that our partner will reject us, we may not not move closer to them in order to bridge the gap. This will create more distance and more reason for valid fear of a relational breakdown.
So what is the solution?
If we want to experience closeness, we must be vulnerable. Take time to reflect upon your own experiences.
Which is more difficult for you, asking for physical intimacy or spiritual intimacy?
Why is vulnerability so difficult?
I pray that as you explore these ideas, you will find courage.
Strengthen our relationships. Give us courage to pursue You freely, to run to You when we feel like withdrawing. Allow this to then translate into our intimate relationship with our partner. We need spiritual and physical intimacy.
Teach us, Lord.