Developing spiritual intimacy as a couple is very similar to developing other important life disciplines. All disciplines require time, focus, and energy. As a couple making a commitment to developing spiritual intimacy, you will want to find a plan that works for you. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all recommendation. Actually, we’ve learned that developing this type of spiritually intimate relationship may take several different attempts until you discover something that works for you.
Our story (Jim and Cathy) basically comes out of failure, but so many times we learn more from our failures than our victories. For the first years of marriage, we prayed together irregularly and, honestly, didn’t do much else to develop our spiritual intimacy as a couple. Because we were involved in youth ministry, we had no problem helping teenagers with their spiritual lives, but we seldom focused on each other. Knowing this was an underdeveloped area of our marriage, we decided to buy a marriage devotional book. It was one that couples were supposed to read together every day. We were amazing at it … for the first four days. Then we started missing a few days, and before we even realized it, we weren’t really doing it anymore. We blamed it on the book, so we bought another one. The same thing happened. After failing the second time, we decided that maybe it wasn’t the book’s fault.
The next time we met with our marriage mentors, we asked, “What do you do to enhance your spiritual intimacy together?” They immediately displayed one of those smiles that nonverbally communicate understanding. They said, “We spend twenty minutes a week focused on our spiritual intimacy.” I’m embarrassed to admit that my initial reaction (that I kept to myself) was, “Only twenty minutes a week? Really?” That seemed like a pretty wimpy amount of time considering these were Christian leaders. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Cathy and I weren’t doing any spiritual connecting—not even for twenty minutes.
As we were driving home from that meeting, Cathy said, “Jim, I would really like to try that twenty-minutes-a-week thing they talked about.” We agreed to start the next night. I’m happy to report that we’ve been doing it pretty consistently for more than thirty years.
Please note: twenty minutes is not a magical amount of time. What becomes magical about this whole ideas is that you are carving focused time out of your schedule to talk together about what God is doing in your life and what you’re learning about His love, and to pray together. You figure out how much time you need for this, but the idea of knowing that you and your spouse will connect on a regular basis and commit to doing something to develop your spiritual intimacy is a huge step forward.
You may find it helpful to go through a book, workbook, or devotional that will guide you during those minutes together. Several great devotional books are on the market (including Jim and Cathy’s book, “Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together”).
If going through a book together doesn’t fit your style, you might simply set some time aside and share from the following agenda (this is a sample; feel free to edit, change, delete, or make your own.)
• Share your greatest joy of the week.
• Confess your greatest struggle of the week.
• Relay a hope or wish.
• Make a statement about a physical goal (e.g., run three times, push-ups every morning, etc.).
• Pray together.