By: Jim Mueller
When you think of intimacy, what comes to mind? A romantic date? Warm conversation? Candlelight dinner? Spending time together? Sex?
Not long ago, I defined “intimacy” as the physical part of our relationship. Now that definition has expanded for me.
Through the years my relationship with my wife, Sheri, has become less selfish, richer and less physical. Now, don’t misunderstand, the physical aspect of our relationship is still important and fulfilling. But somehow the physical element of intimacy now takes a backseat to a new, more meaningful, intimacy experience.
Over the last several years, our marriage has evolved in to a deeper partnership, with increased trust, confidence and security. Our communications and conflict resolution skills have improved. We selflessly serve each other, always looking for creative ways to express our love and foster romance.
Our relationship has expanded beyond simple physical intimacy into a deep spiritual intimacy.
To be honest, this new level of closeness caught me by surprise. Not long ago Sheri and I made spiritual decisions and commitments that, to us, seemed unrelated to our marriage. An upshot of our now changed lives is a stronger, more vibrant marriage.
Essentially, spiritual intimacy in marriage is about partnering with God—harnessing His love, strength and leadership and utilizing that power in your marriage.
Steps to Spiritual Intimacy
To achieve spiritual intimacy in your marriage, it’s vital that you both are on the same page spiritually. That means you and your partner both need to “do business” with God—you Doth need to submit to Him and follow him.
This means being in God’s will in your relationship with your spouse.
- Not acting like your relationship is Ok with your spouse, but striving to achieve the best relationship God has for your marriage.
- Not sharing things that will embarrass your spouse, but get their permission before hand.
- Not talking negatively about your spouse to someone else, but talking about it with your spouse first then (if necessary) the two of you go to two or three in Christ.
- Not agreeing to a commitment that will effect your spouse without your spouse being in agreement.
- Not only praying separately but praying together and listening to God’s answer for you as a couple.
- Not, ‘ my will be done’ or ‘what I want’ but ‘God’s will be done in my life and what He wants in your marriage’.
Imagine a triangle. Optimally, in a Christian marriage relationship, God is at the top and you and your partner are at opposite ends on the bottom. As the two of you grow spiritually, you will move upwards together toward God, up the triangle.
If you and your spouse believe different things or are on opposite spiritual growth patterns, you will not only grow apart relationally, but your growth will stall spiritually.
Engaging in a personal relationship with God is the first and most important step in initiating spiritual intimacy. Next, you need to increase your accessibility to God. You need to position yourself in activities that will facilitate God-caused change in your marriage.
- Asking for prayer and covering as a couple for your marriage.
- Continually pressing in as a couple by petitioning God over your marriage.
- The majority of marital problems would go away if, ‘the husband would love his wife the way Christ loves the church’,
- The majority of marital problems would go away if, ‘the wife would respect her husband in words, and actions as the bible commands’.
One of the most intimate activities you can share as a couple is prayer. When you talk to God together, sharing your most private thoughts, prayer becomes a team effort and you bond spiritually. Collaborative prayer unites the marriage partners into a unified voice, powerfully merging your marriage dreams, concerns and requests.
Sheri and I have found that when we pray together, it’s easier to recognize answered prayer. Praying together leads to communication throughout the day and causes anticipation about how God will respond.
To grow to your full “intimacy potential,” you need to avail yourself to other like-minded people. Your first step toward community should be church involvement. Not just church attendance; you need to participate and connect with a local church.
A church will facilitate teaching, engage you in worship and provide a place where you can play an active role in a community of Christians. If you want to experience spiritual intimacy in your marriage, you both must connect with community.
Additionally, your church may provide marriage enrichment offerings: Retreats, workshops, training and counseling. Take advantage of these resources.
Trial and error is not the most effective means of achieving spiritual intimacy; yet that’s the approach many couples take. The most direct route to spiritual intimacy is to engage in close relationships with other Christians and learn by example.
A mentoring relationship, in the context of a small group or a one-on-one connection, will minimize missteps and provide a sounding board and safety net as you move forward. This is community on a deeper level.
These relationships will support you and you marriage. If you’ve been married a while, you know that “stuff happens”—unemployment, financial difficulty, sickness, marriage problems…even death. When life goes south, you need to be surrounded by quality people.
Sometimes meaningful relationships develop easily, but most often these connections don’t occur by chance—you need to take initiative as a couple.
The first place to look might be around your church or small group. Ask yourself: Whose marriage do I respect? Whose marriage would serve an example to ours?
Take this quest seriously. Connecting in a mentoring relationship is the fast track to spiritual intimacy.
The benefits of spiritual intimacy in our marriage are substantial. Our relationship is secure and strong; we have confidence about the future; our marriage has grown beyond simple human intimacy to a closeness only God could orchestrate.
Even a “good” marriage doesn’t compare to a quality, God-centered marriage. Take the risk: Discover spiritual intimacy in your marriage.
- We bicycle, eat out, golf, plan little ‘Get-Aways’ mostly alone as couple. During the week we have little time together so we plan ‘Quality Time’ together whenever possible. Things we both like to do.
- Our time of new spiritual growth as a couple comes from these sessions. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a group setting or one-on-one with another couple. It doesn’t even matter if we are leading or just another couple in the group. We have learned to listen to God as a couple, share with each other, guide each other and instruct each other as God directs. My spouse is my accountability partner, my best friend, and my .. my mate for life.