Last week I wrote about how spiritual intimacy is a significant challenge for most married couples I know. Specifically I shared eight reasons why married couples struggle in knowing how to be spiritually intimate with each other.
Today, in part two of this mini-series, I share how to overcome each of these eight barriers to spiritual intimacy. Each of the barriers are described below in italics, followed directly by some suggestions in how to overcome the barrier.
Barrier #1 – Laziness
Sometimes we know that spiritual intimacy would do us good as a couple, but we’re too lazy and preoccupied by other tasks or selfish desires. Often we seek immediate fruit, and spiritual intimacy usually produces a product/fruit down the road, not in the immediate present.
No rocket science here, but we simply need to do the things we know we need to do. We combat laziness with dilligence and effort. Marriage takes work and can be challenging (1 Corinthians 7:28). If anyone told you otherwise, they lied to you.
Barrier #2 – Fatigue
A great time to pray or discuss what we’re learning spiritually is when we go to bed at night. But, we are so exhausted from the day’s activities that we conk out before even getting a chance to discuss or pray.
A few potential options/discussions for this one:
- You may need to have a conversation about your schedules. What is the “good thing” you need to say “no” to so that you can say “yes” to something great?
- Be creative about when and where you pray together. Maybe instead of at night when you’re exhausted, how about first thing in the morning before the chaos of your day begins, or in the middle of the day in a phone call together?
Barrier #3 – Idolatry
Other things take precedence, including television (get rid of that TV in the bedroom if you have one!), hobbies, schedule, people-pleasing (we say yes to everything else and have no margin left for the things that matter most), reading (even good things can replace the great thing), exercise (we make the physical more important than spiritual) and much more. Good becomes the enemy of great.
As above with fatigue, what can you remove from your life in order to make room for spiritual intimacy? What are those idols that rule your life? One of the most helpful resources to help me identify my idols was the book Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller. If you read it, prepare for a butt kicking.
Barrier #4 – Different schedules
Sometimes the husband and wife have different sleep and wake schedules. The husband is up earlier or vice versa. Regardless, schedules not in sync make it difficult to make time for any and all conversations.
I know this is a real challenge for some of you, but if you don’t make time for conversation and spiritual intimacy, then your foundation will crumble. Be creative and problem-solve together as a couple. Bring in wise friends as well (Proverbs 13:20).
Barrier #5 – Uncomfortability (a made-up word, I believe).
We don’t know how to share with our spouse. Our relationship with Jesus is something private to us and we are uncomfortable sharing what we’re learning or struggling with and we just don’t know how to share with one another.
For some reason, I believe men especially struggle with this one. Let me remind you: you are one flesh with your spouse. If there is anyone with whom you should be able to be vulnerable, open and have hard conversations, it’s your spouse. Learn to pray from God’s Word and from other people, and when you don’t know how, ask someone else.
If you’re looking to start reading your bible, but don’t know how, check out Join the Journey from Watermark Community Church. The Journey provides a great, simple way to walk through God’s Word.
Barrier #6 – Insecurity
A close relative to uncomfortability is insecurity. We don’t have the spiritual intimacy with the Lord we would like on our own, so sharing with our spouse becomes something we don’t want to do because of our guilt, shame or embarrassment. Or, we are fully aware of our own depravity (1 Timothy 1:15) and we don’t think we are worthy of sharing spiritually with our spouse.
You are two broken, sinful people married to one another. Chapter one in When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey opened up my eyes to the fact that the starting place for intimacy with the Lord and with our spouse is when we admit that we are the chief sinner, that we are in fact broken. And so is your spouse. We do not need to be insecure around another broken human being. In spite of our sin and brokenness, God still loved us enough to send Jesus to die for our sins. If the Perfect God of the universe can love us through Jesus, then we have no reason to be insecure around our spouse.
Barrer #7 – False Humility
We don’t want to appear hyperspiritual or holy, so instead of sharing with our spouse we decide to stuff it and not share with one another. We don’t want to ‘brag’ about what we’re learning or shove it in someone else’s face, so instead we don’t share with our spouse what we’re learning.
Read Philippians 2:3-4 and get over yourself.
Barrier # 8 – Broken Trust
At its core, this may be the biggest challenge for many couples. Our trust is broken with either God or with our spouse, so we don’t share with one another. If trust is broken with God or with your spouse, then you will choose to not be intimate in any way with them.
Trust is certainly a big deal in our relationship with God and with our spouse. Read and pray Proverbs 3:5-6 and begin to trust God. Remember back to when you married your spouse. What broke your trust along the way? If broken trust is an obstacle in your marriage, I’d recommend you check out re|engage as a way to bring hope and healing back into your relationship with one another.
Kristen and I celebrate 14 years of marriage on Tuesday (September 15, 2015). Just like all couples, we have faced challenges over the years, but I can say with confidence, married life has never been sweeter. We love each other, fight for oneness and unity, pursue each other and, I hope, consistently put the other’s needs before our own.
Spiritually, we have ups and downs as well. We struggle like any other couple. However, we love the Lord and our love for each other flows out of our love for Jesus. There is no question in my mind that the reason for our joy and a rich 14 years is because we have built our lives, our marriage and our home on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27). My hope is that you will do the same.
With which of the barriers do you most struggle?
What solutions can you and your spouse brainstorm to over come some of these barriers?