How is tending to your wife’s spiritual side a sexual need? Women all over the country have told us the same thing: “When my husband takes the lead spiritually, by praying, reading his Bible, and going to church, I am drawn to him on a deep level. It makes me feel so secure that I am eager to give myself fully to him.”
Women are so serious about spiritual intimacy with their husbands that 58% ranked it as a top sex need. If you think it’s just our survey respondents who feel spiritual things affect what goes on in the bedroom, take a look at a survey conducted by the National Marriage Project, located at Rutgers University. Prominent family experts David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead reexamined the institution of marriage in America. In 2001, Gallup collected the data for the National Marriage Project to study, which included interviews from 1,003 adults who ranged in age from 20 to 29. The results indicate that emotional and spiritual connection rank far above other needs, including financial stability, in forming a romantic partnership. Nearly 81% of the women interviewed reported that it is more important to have a husband who can communicate about his deepest feelings than it is to have a husband who earns a good living. An overwhelming majority (94%) believe that a spouse should be a soulmate first and foremost.
What does that information tell us? Women want a man who can connect to the deepest part of them – the spiritual part.
In Making Love Last Forever, Gary Smalley writes about finding the power to keep loving: “Why is the spiritual journey so important? Marriage researchers are finding a correlation between one’s spiritual journey and one’s satisfaction in marriage. Howard Markman, Scott Stanley, and Susan Blumberg report that religion has a favorable impact on marriage. They write that religious couples ‘are less likely to divorce…show somewhat higher levels of satisfaction…lower levels of conflict about current issues…and higher levels of commitment.'” Similarly, marriage expert Nick Stinnett found that one characteristic common to most happy marriages and families was an active, shared faith in God.
If you want to release deep passion in your wife, then get serious about connecting with her spiritually.
What Is Spiritual Intimacy?
You will experience deep spiritual intimacy when you have a mutual, heartfelt desire to be close to God, when you seek God’s direction for your marriage – even for your sex life. Spiritual intimacy means that in the midst of conflict, you honor and respect each other. You don’t put each other down in an attempt to win; you think about how God would want you to act in the situation. You become united together through prayer. You unite under biblical principles for your lives and marriage. You actively invite God into every aspect of your marriage, including sex.
A wife deeply desires to pursue God with her husband. She wants to have spiritual conversations, to read the Bible together, and to pray together. A wife is attracted to her husband when he provides spiritual leadership.
God designed the husband to be the spiritual leader in the marriage. And your wife really wants to see you succeed in that. When you spiritually lead your wife, she feels encouraged to trust you more. When a husband and wife build their marriage on the foundational commitment to pursue God above all, they are able to share fears, anxieties, joys, and dreams. They are free to experience transparent honesty, knowing that they love each other unconditionally and that neither will ever walk away.
How to Meet your Wife’s Need for Spiritual Intimacy
Pick a few of the following suggestions, and begin the process of meeting your wife’s need for spiritual intimacy.
1. Ask your wife what she needs. The best way to start meeting your wife’s needs is to ask her how she would like you to build spiritual intimacy with her. Don’t let her give general answers. Probe exactly what she means. If she says, “I want you to be the spiritual leader in our marriage,” ask her what that looks like to her on a daily, practical level. Then begin to follow her requests.
2. Be honest about your awkward feelings. In the Reader’s Digest article “How Honest Are Couples, Really?” The author reported the results of a poll showing that men wish they could talk about deeper matters than sports or money – but they don’t know how. Nearly a third of the men wished they could talk openly with their wives about spiritual matters. Marriage researcher John Gottman commented on this finding: “That really impressed me. It underscores the meaning of how we live, what we value. It’s hard for men to talk about that.”
If you are uncomfortable talking about spiritual things, start slowly. One great way to start is for each of you to share the history of your spiritual life. Use the following questions to discover more about your partner’s faith:
• What did your parents believe about God, Jesus, church, prayer, and the Bible?
• How and where did you first learn about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit? At what age?
• What questions about Faith did you have as a child and teenager? Who gave you the answers?
• If you could ask God any questions now, what would they be?
• When you were a child, did anyone you looked up to as a Christian disappointment you? If so, how has that influenced you as an adult?
• How have difficult times affected your faith?
3. Pray for your wife. More than anything else – more than flowers, candy, candlelit dinners, or gifts – your wife needs you to be her “soul protector.” Pray for her throughout the day. Pray for her struggles and her dreams. Ask God to show you ways to meet her needs.
4. Pray with your wife. Praying together is probably the strongest knot that binds a couple.
5. Encourage your wife spiritually. To get started, complete these four statements together:
• You could help me grow in my faith by…
• I feel most comfortable praying with you when we…
• We could grow together in our faith if we…
• We could serve God together by…
6. Focus on your wife’s spiritual strengths. When you see her make a difficult decision based on her convictions, affirm and encourage her. When you are drawn to God because of her, let her know.
7. Practice forgiveness. When you and your wife have an argument or when she has hurt or frustrated you in some way, know that any unresolved offense can block all kinds of intimacy – emotional, physical, and spiritual. When you sense a wall between you and your spouse, something is wrong. Take responsibility for your wrongs. Ask for forgiveness. And when your wife does the same, choose to forgive her. (Check out our book, Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage, for in-depth help in this area.)