SPIRITUAL INTIMACY AS COUPLES
PURSUING SPIRITUAL INTIMACY
We, Chuck and Ashley, are thrilled to introduce you to some of our friends who a pursuing spiritual intimacy in their marriages. Their stories are filled with adventure but also include bumps, challenges, and insecurities. Listen in as they share about their journey toward spiritual connection; they’ll unpack how they’ve grown and tell where they hope to be in the next few
months. At the end, we’ll share about our journey as well. We pray that you feel encouraged and inspired, knowing that you’re not alone in your pursuit of our amazing God. We also pray that God reveals “great and hidden things” to you as a couple.
Each day, there will reflection questions. If you’re reading along with your partner, take time to
discuss your thoughts with one another.
In what ways do you want to deepen your spiritual intimacy with your partner?
How do you want to grow spiritually as an individual?
INITIATING SPIRITUAL CONVERSATIONS
Jake and Ellen in Indiana, married 3 years
When we started dating, we decided to study a book of the Bible together. It sounded like a great idea until the first day. We were supposed to dive into the study, but I (Ellen) found it really difficult to share my thoughts with Jake. At the time, we felt ready to grow together
spiritually, but inviting someone into our relationship with God felt uncomfortable. Later, we discovered that spiritual intimacy is exactly what it says, intimate. Studying God’s Word is so personal and intimate; we desperately wanted to become closer to God together, but because of the newness of our relationship, it was challenging. We desired the unity that comes from pursuing God and found that unity deepened on a whole new level after marriage. As we have matured individually, we have grown together as well. We have both invited each other into our personal walk with Christ. And with that invitation comes commitment to honesty and being open to learn. Every day, we push each other to become more like Christ rather than trying to “fix” the small things we may find annoying about each other that particular day. To us, it’s about being willing to be honest and open, as well as humbly accepting honesty when our spouse points out an area where we can grow.
We hope to increase conversations about personal spiritual growth and what we are learning in the Bible individually. God is always working and it’s especially neat and important to hear how He is working in each other.
Think of a time when you felt uncomfortable, maybe even fearful of spiritual matters, yet you pushed yourself anyway. How did you feel afterward?
Do you ever feel nervous about initiating spiritual conversations?
TEARING DOWN THE WALLS
Andy and Beth from Alaska, married 25 years
Early on, we struggled with praying together. There was some strange wall that we (probably I, Andy) couldn’t seem to break through. Maybe we all have a wall that we must tear down. As
spouses, we know one another so well, and we are aware that our spouse sees all of our flaws and shortcomings. And while we trust the grace of Christ, we still feel a sense of shame, guilt, and unworthiness with our spouse. In turn, this prevents us from being spiritually intimate with one another.
Although we are charged to love each other and trust each other just as Christ loves us, it is still tough sometimes.
Presently, we are trying to sustain ourselves in the place of growth that we have developed over the past five years. We could do devotions and pray together more often, but as a pastor and teacher with young children, it can be very difficult. We continue to do the very best we can and trust the Lord with the rest.
Have you ever felt like there is a wall between you and your partner?
What has your partner done to tear down walls to get closer to you?
TRIAL AND ERROR
Chris and Angela from Indiana, married 14 years
We dated for 9 years, starting in high school, so we have been together for 23 years. We were very involved in our youth group, so we began praying together early in our relationship. No one had modeled or taught us about spiritual intimacy, so we just tried different things. I (Chris) had been told that adding spiritual elements in a dating relationship was risky because the temptation to go further physically would increase. But as a follower of Christ, I knew that I wanted my relationship with my girlfriend to be centered on Jesus. We talked about it, set more boundaries, and continued to pray and read our Bible together. As we grew older and went to separate colleges, we still prayed some, but it became less frequent. Then as we entered marriage, we tried different things such as devotionals, Bible study plans, and times of prayer. However, we weren’t very consistent with reading together. Consistently spending time with other believers and serving together has helped us continue to develop spiritual intimacy.
Presently, we both serve in middle school ministry; taking time to discuss what the Lord is doing in the lives of students and in our own lives has deepened our connection. Also, there is something about worshiping as a couple with other followers of Jesus that helps us grow closer spiritually.
Over the next few months I (Chris) would like to be more intentional about prayer and Bible study with my wife. Now with three kids, jobs, homeschooling, and various activities, at the end of the day, it’s easy to just veg out and watch TV. I need to take those moments and be more intentional about spiritual intimacy with my wife.
In what ways does your spiritual intimacy with your partner look different now compared to when your relationship was brand new?
Do you notice any barriers that make it difficult to have spiritual conversations?
Dave and Kati from Louisiana, married 11 years
Early in our marriage, I (Dave) found praying together to be very awkward. I (Kati) found it difficult to let Dave be the boss in spiritually leading our family. Whether through Bible studies or just discussing Scripture, I had a difficult time trusting him. That made spiritual intimacy really uncomfortable.
Over the years, we have grown tremendously. We pray together now! Prayer has revolutionized our relationship. Part of that has been establishing gut-wrenching honesty. I (Dave) stopped making excuses and letting fear and pride get in the way and just pursued God with reckless abandon. Honesty and vulnerability were essential to allowing us to grow in our prayer life. Joshua 1:8 instructs us to study this book of instruction continually, to meditate on God’s Word day and night. And it says we will prosper in all we do. It wasn't until I got right with God that Kati trusted me. Now, even sex has become spiritual. We can pray during lovemaking.
And we do our best to start each day with three things: a 10-item gratitude list, one thing we love about each other, and a prayer. That's part of our shared, daily quiet time. Also, we have established vision weekends where we talk, dream and pray about life together, and that has directly impacted our spiritual intimacy.
We are eager to see what God has for us. We know how shallow it was in the beginning, and we're interested to find out how deep our relationship can go. We want to see how God will use our unity to bring change and healing to the world around us.
Are there areas of your life you have refused to allow God to enter (such as sexuality)?
If so, what makes it difficult to bring God into these areas of life?
BECOMING A SPIRITUAL EXAMPLE
Caleb and Ariel from Indiana, married 8 years
We dated for 10 months, were engaged for 9 months, and got married at the ripe old ages of 20 and 21. Both of us had the privilege of being raised in wonderful, Christ-honoring homes. I (Ariel) grew up seeing my mom and dad read the Bible and pray together every morning. Because of the example set before me, spiritual intimacy was something I knew I wanted to have in my own relationship and marriage. However, desiring something and pursuing it are two different things. Toward the beginning of our relationship, praying aloud and initiating Bible-reading felt slightly awkward, because it was uncharted territory for each of us. Through lots of practice, we have grown to look forward to times when we can be spiritually intimate with one another. Having a set time to pray and read the Bible together daily has been so helpful in making spiritual intimacy a priority. As with starting anything new, it can feel uncomfortable at first, but soon those feelings dissipate and are replaced with a closeness to
our spouse and our Creator. As we move forward, we would love to dig deeper into Scripture together, looking more closely into context and background, gaining a greater depth and understanding of God’s Word.
Share about any Godly examples you witnessed growing up.
What type of example are you (or do you want to be) to people around you?
Tyner and Tiffany from Tennessee, married 13 years
We were in our 20’s when we got married. Looking back, we were babies, but no one could have told us that at the time.
Early in marriage, praying together was awkward. Growing up, I (Tyner) was taught to pray by myself. When I (Tiffany) saw Tyner uncomfortable with prayer, I didn’t know how to respond or navigate asking for something different. We were still processing what our parents and faith leaders had taught us, as well as deciding what we truly believed. We also didn’t know how to act when we disagreed with one another or even how to fully communicate what we wanted and needed from each other in those moments. In time, we found that prayer could push joy into our lives even when it was uncomfortable.
We have also learned to celebrate our differences, because they can draw us closer as a couple. If we only focus on our similarities, we are missing a piece of each other in the process. In 1 Corinthians 12: 12 – 28, we learn about the body of Christ; each part is needed. We are unique individuals who can celebrate our differences while remaining one body.
Lastly, we have young kids, so it is hard…like really hard! For others who have been in this space too, we see you. We love our kiddos deeply, and honestly have reveled in learning about our faith by aiming to model and teach our kids about God. Daily, though we realize we must prioritize time for each other. Recently, we relocated and joined a Sunday school group. It has been an amazing place of support for us, so we want to invest in some of these couples by scheduling a couple’s date night. We hope to build closer relationships with other couples who are also wrestling with loving God and loving others in our community. We know that God has called us to be in community, so we truly believe that this will allow us to be better parents and better humans if we prioritize this time.
How have you engaged or resisted community in the past?
Discuss your similarities and differences.
1 Corinthians 12:27
John and Janet from New Mexico, married 37 years
As with many couples, spiritual conversations were not an active part of our dating life. We talked about taking our future children to church, but when it came to sharing how faith affected our lives, we were often mute.
Thankfully, as we worked to grow together, these conversations became more natural. One of the best and simplest ways we have found to grow in spiritual intimacy is to springboard off of something we have recently heard or read. For instance, our pastor recently mentioned the difference between knowing what is really important versus what we think is important. We talked about that off and on over the next few weeks and how we could use the concept in session (we are both therapists), and we will likely come back to it in our personal lives again in the future.
We have found that it is so easy to pick something interesting (or confusing/unsettling/etc.) from a sermon, podcast, or article and ask some simple questions:
What are your thoughts about ___________________?
How do you think you’ll use that information in the future?
We used to have weekly calendar and planning meetings where we would go out for coffee or a meal and talk about our plans or do a Bible study together. We even scheduled these meetings when we had children at home. As time went on, our crazy schedules took us away from that process. Such irony, isn’t it?
We would like to get back to that weekly meeting because it provided a focused, relaxing time for us to encourage each other. We were able to have those “what do you think about this idea?” conversations without distractions from home.
When we take time to focus on the spiritual things we read and hear and relate them to daily living, those conversations flow more readily, and we grow in a multitude of positive ways.
What are your thoughts about _______?
Have you listened to a sermon or podcast, or read an article or a Bible verse that made you think? If so, share. If not, in the upcoming week, share when you plan to listen or read.
Chuck and Ashley from Indiana, married 13 years
When we were dating, I (Chuck) remember standing in a Christian bookstore, thumbing through devotionals, hoping to find a book that would help us grow spiritually. Yet, each of them seemed to be better suited for engaged or married couples. We are so thankful for The Bible
App which makes it so easy for couples to complete plans and grow spiritually, together, creating lifelong habits that will protect their marriage! For us, growing in spiritual intimacy seemed to be a little easier once we were engaged, but it was still an ongoing challenge.
After we were married, I (Ashley) found myself expecting Chuck to initiate devotions since he was the “spiritual leader.” Now, I have come to believe we are both spiritual leaders in our home, and we’re raising our boys to be spiritual leaders, too. Though God may want Chuck to lead our home spiritually, I believe he also wants me to lead. We are in this together. When I stand before God, I don’t think that God will get me in trouble for asking Chuck to do devotions with me. Perhaps this thought came from the enemy.
Now, after 13 years of marriage, Chuck regularly plays worship music in the home or initiates watching a RightNow Media Bible study rather than another program. We are in this together. John 10:10 says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” God’s purpose “is to give a rich and satisfying life.”
We have family devotions each night, but we have been less consistent finding a regular time for couples’ devotions. Recently, we increased our commitment to engage in spiritual growth each night. Some days we spend 30+ minutes watching a series and discussing its content. Other days we may only pray a 15 second prayer together. Regardless, we will continue to do our best to push ourselves toward spiritual intimacy.
Who typically initiates reading the Bible or prayer?
Discuss and determine a daily time to read and/or pray together.
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