At weddings, I have been known to stand up and give an analogy of marriage as a three legged stool.
The three legs of a marriage (in my short talk) are:
- Spiritual Intimacy
- Emotional Intimacy
- Physical Intimacy
You need all three in order to have a stable marriage. This is not to say you can’t have a marriage without all three. With only two of them, you can stay upright, but you’ll constantly be doing a balancing act (a bad situation), or catch yourself holding on to something external to your marriage (a worse situation). With one, you don’t have much of a chance at all.
Not only do you need all three, but the legs should be around the same height. All exactly the same is ideal, but some variance might not be noticed. Large inequalities start to get uncomfortable. When your physical intimacy is far above your emotional intimacy, something feels wrong, you fight to stay on the stool because it’s not level.
Sometimes a short leg will be encouraged to grow in response to the other two legs (remember your wedding, if you waited to have sex: emotional intimacy high, spiritual intimacy high, physical intimacy is begging to catch up).
But more often, a short leg will pull the others down. For example, when physical intimacy starts disappearing in a marriage, it’s generally either the result of a loss of emotional and/or spiritual intimacy, or they soon follow.
Today I want to give a quick tip on how to increase spiritual intimacy, since it’s a rarely discussed topic.
Pray together as a couple to increase spiritual intimacy
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)
Many of us know this verse from the Bible. It is a call for Christians to marry other Christians. Why? Because marrying another faith cuts a leg from under your stool (marriage). But often this is taken at face value and left as it stands, “Don’t marry non-believers”, check.
But, let’s look a the King James Version. I know it’s a little rougher to read, but it tends to be more accurate:
Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what partnership has light with darkness?2 Corinthians 6:14 (KJV)
See, the KJV throws in the word “unequally”, and I think we can extrapolate this beyond just to unbelievers. We need to be equally yoked within our Christian marriages as well. Both partners should be striving daily to meet Christ, to seek God, and to do His will in the world, in their family, and in their marriage.
I praise God often that He gave me a wife who will follow where I lead spiritually, not as a passive follower, but as an active equal, walking where I walk, side by side. We discuss the Bible together, we read some of the same theology books, we go through the same processes. Right now, we’re both going through a 40 days of prayer session (though with separate same-gender partners). Our theology is in sync with each other because we learn together, we grow together, and we pray together.
But, we didn’t always pray together. In fact, for the first 8 or so years of our marriage we never did unless “forced”, and then it was extremely uncomfortable. I’d been told many times that we should, in sermons, books, blogs, websites, etc, but the thought always made me uncomfortable. My wife had the same feelings and experiences. Maybe this post is making you feel uncomfortable.
One day, we just decided to start. We decided we would pray every night before bed. And you know what? It WAS uncomfortable to do prayer together, to start praying out loud. It was awkward, for both of us, listening and praying. But we decided to push through it because growth is usually uncomfortable. Slowly but surely, we established a prayer life together, as husband and wife.
Ready to start a habit of praying together?
If you want to start, start small so you won’t chicken out. And ask for God to help you stick with it. Something like:
Thank you for today. Please help us as we try to grow together closer to you. Help us not to chicken out and stop this even though its awkward.
It was uncomfortable for about a week. It’s been nearly a year now at the time of this writing, and wow, now I feel like I’ve missed something if we don’t for some reason, which is rare.
The benefits? A closer relationship with God and a closer relationship with your spouse.
How about you, do you pray with your spouse regularly? If so, has it helped? If you don’t, what’s stopping you?