Cultivating Spiritual Intimacy in Marriage

A God-centered relationship too often feels like a nice idea that is always out of reach. We want it, but we aren’t sure what it looks like. We might even try a few ideas on for size, but usually give up in frustration.

Marriage is one of God’s laboratories in which he brings two uniquely different people together to become one.  Intimacy and unity is the end goal of this sanctifying process.  But too often we let our uniqueness get in the way of our oneness.  We focus just on our own needs and not on the needs of our spouse or our relationship.

We need to keep in mind that sameness does not equal oneness.  Conflicts abound when we try to force our spouse to be like us.  We lose the intimacy and unity God wants for us.

Paul addresses this issue in Ephesians 5:21-33.  In Ephesians 4, Paul begins his discussion on unity. In chapters 5 and 6 he describes how we can live out this unity in our relationships.  We are implored to walk in love.  If we are going to be filled with the Spirit, we need to submit one to another. (5:21) Tragically, too many translations make verses 21 and 22 part of separate paragraphs, thus breaking up the concept of submitting one to another. However, in the Greek text the word “submit” is not in verse 22. It is implied from verse 21. The two verses are linked.  Paul is describing how we submit one to another.

The word “submit” is like a cultural heresy. There is a misunderstanding of this term.  Some Christian men have used it as a club to lord it over their wives. Unfortunately, they don’t continue to read the passage. The context is unity, walking in love and being filled with the Spirit.

Submission is the willingness to give up your agenda for the betterment of the other person and the relationship. (Phil. 2:3.4) Paul encourages women to respect their husbands out of reverence toward Christ. Men are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Jesus didn’t lord it over us, he demonstrated his love for us by sacrificing for us.

I have heard people say that the Bible never says that wives are to love their husbands, just respect them.  I guess they missed Titus 2:41 Peter 3:7 calls men to respect their wives.  We need to love and respect each other if we are going to cultivate spiritual intimacy in our marriages.

God brings two uniquely different people together to strengthen one another. The focus isn’t on who’s in charge, the focus is on developing unity and intimacy by loving and respecting each other.

Each couple is unique. Here are few ideas on how you can cultivate a Christ-centered relationship.  Don’t try to do them all at once.  If this is new, start with one and go from there.

  • God’s word needs to be part of your everyday life.
  • Ask one another about what God is teaching each other.
  • Regular times of prayer.
  • As you encounter life’s challenges, look to the word and pray together. Don’t let these disciplines be an afterthought. Let them guide your decisions.
  • Find a mentor couple.
  • Join a small group.
  • Go to church together.
  • Read a book together.
  • Go for a walk and share how you see God in nature.
  • Talk about ways you can invest in each other’s spiritual life.

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