When Jim and I were planning to be married, we set aside an intense two hours for marriage preparation not much of an investment for an idealistic 19 and 20 year-old couple. Unfortunately, no one pulled us aside to explain the secret to building a strong and lasting marriage. I figured if we were in lust —I mean love — we had what we needed for a great future. My head was definitely in the clouds.
Years later, through struggles and adversity and nearly ending it all, we discovered our secret to a successful marriage — the "forgotten" intimacy.
This type of intimacy is often put aside because it's uncomfortable, risky, and has the potential to create conflict. It requires time to develop, time we don't have in our busy schedules.
Any idea what this "forgotten" intimacy is? It is Spiritual — intimacy with God at the center.
Building Spiritual Intimacy isn't easy, but it's worth the effort. Spiritual Intimacy develops trust, oneness, and closeness
Provides a secure spiritual foundation
Strengthens your marriage through a shared spiritual focus
Introduces hope and joy into your marriage
Develops a home environment where there is safety, peace, love and forgiveness
Establishes the groundwork for spiritual legacy in your family
Spiritual Intimacy has helped us withstand the earthquakes of life. The death of my mom, Jim's mother's Alzheimer's diagnosis and the pregnancy of an unwed daughter — All of which occurred in the past five years. We have learned to put our trust in Christ to carry us through the rough times we've faced.
It takes a heart adjustment to reap spiritual benefits from marriage. We need to take a serious look at the condition of our heart toward our spouse and look at what stops us from connecting with them on a spiritual level. And?begin considering ways to build Spiritual Intimacy.
The First Step — Prayer If I told you there was one single activity that will effectively establish Spiritual Intimacy; one simple step that will improve and strengthen your marriage and family... would you believe me?
Dave and Jan Stoop, in their book,
When Couples Pray Together, said only 4 percent of Christian couples actually pray together on a regular basis. That's a pretty amazing statistic!
Is prayer everything couples need to be successful? Some couples do consider themselves to have great marriages without prayer. Good communication and conflict resolution skills can be developed and developed well. But with prayer, there is fullness, richness and a depth of intimacy that cannot be achieved otherwise. Prayer causes other areas of your marriage to grow into something that could only be orchestrated by God.
Prayer's awkward, it's personal and risky. It can make you feel vulnerable and inadequate. Prayer was our most difficult step toward spiritual intimacy. Can you identify with this?
Every marriage needs a place where a couple can come together at one moment, in one quiet place — a place where we have one thing in common: God. In prayer, we find this quiet place.
One of our favorite ways to pray is cuddled up in bed — and well, I'll leave the rest up to your imaginations. Jim often tells people prayer will lead to romance. He doesn't understand why and he's not asking questions!!
In their book
Made to be Loved, Steve and Valerie Bell ask the question, "Do you know your spouses heart deeply?" They explain that lack of knowledge can destroy the possibility of true intimacy. Through praying together, the heart can be known. When the heart is heard, intimacy is experienced. The resources of divine grace and love go untapped when a couple does not include God in their relationship. Without God, we're limited to our own human abilities; which usually fail.
Praying together has strengthened our commitment. The "C" word: Commitment.
If you lookup "commitment" in your thesaurus you'll find, Promise, Dedication, Vow, and Pledge. Do those wedding day words sound familiar?
Commitment helps keep the "D" word away: Divorce. That word was a major part of our vocabulary. I'd like you to take the negative connotation of the "D" word and change your thoughts to "Dedication". That's exactly what prayer will do, create a sense of Dedication.
Ministries International recently stated that almost every divorce occurs because one or both people are caught up in "meism" or simply stated: selfishness. It is a different story with couples that pray together. Statistics show only 1 in 1,500 couples that pray together actually divorce.
God assures us in our struggles of praying, that we can be comforted. "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, but to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
God says in Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and unsearchable things, which you do not know. (NIV)
Just imagine the blessings He has in store for you!
This is the first article in a series of five on the Forgotten Intimacy. In upcoming segments we'll cover Prayer Barriers, Understanding our Struggle, Servanthood and Connecting.