Q. My husband and I are active in a church and have built our marriage on faith in God. However, when I try to discuss questions or ideas about faith or talk about spiritual experiences my husband has nothing to say. He won’t even share his ideas about Sunday’s sermon. I want to know my husband on a deeper level and grow together spiritually. I think this would strengthen our marriage and increase our intimacy with each other. What do you suggest?
A. You raise a problem which many couples experience. Often the wife is more verbal about her faith and more comfortable with sharing intimate feelings, thoughts and experiences. She may be eager for more spiritual intimacy with her husband than he is ready for. So how can you grow together spiritually?
Be Accepting and Non-Threatening
Let your husband know you’re thankful he is involved in regular worship with you. Couples who worship together strengthen their bond with each other and with God. Let him know you appreciate the togetherness you have in this. A small change toward more intimacy that might be non-threatening would be to hold his hand during prayers in church and during grace at meals.
Share your own thoughts about the sermon without digging for his response. You can hope for a response, but don’t do anything that to him would seem like a demand for a response. He needs to feel safe in order to open up and be more vulnerable.
When you talk with him use “I statements” and share your own feelings. For example, “I was very touched by the sermon this morning, especially ...” Or, “I realized something I need to work on spiritually when the minister talked about...” Avoid “you statements” and questions. For example, “Did you agree with…?” What did you think about...?” He may feel threatened by your questioning him or by your dissatisfaction with him.
Other Ways for Couples to Grow Together Spiritually
An adult Sunday school class or a small group can help you grow together spiritually. When your husband hears other men sharing their thoughts in the class or group this may give him greater comfort in sharing.
Attend a weekend retreat for couples such as Weekend to Remember or Marriage Encounter or a weekly Third Option Group. These are often life-changing in opening up marital communication.
Read a daily devotional, read scripture and pray together. These may be less threatening and can help you grow together spiritually.
There are several books that can help couple with their spiritual growth:
· Real Relationships, Love Talk, and The Love Talk Devotional for Couples are books by Les and Leslie Parrott. The Parrotts believe every couple has a restless aching not just to know God individually but to experience God together. Their books provide a road map for cultivating rich spiritual intimacy in your marriage.
· Quiet Times for Couples by H. Norman Wright. The 365 daily readings in this popular book are designed to open up genuine communication between husband and wife. Each devotional gives a framework for conversation, making it easier for couples to share about the deeper parts of their lives.
· Couples Devotional Bible is a very helpful resource to couples wanting to deepen their relationship with God and each other. A brief devotional message, a scripture, and “Marriage Builder” questions for discussion are given for each week day. A “Weekending” short devotion with scripture is offered for Saturday and Sunday. 52 weeks of devotions are woven through the entire Bible and are written by 140 well known contributors.
· Night Light: A Devotional for Couples by James and Shirley Dobson is also very good.
Deepen your own faith, pray for your husband and God will grow both of you.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 5:33 NIV
This blog originally appeared on Taber’s Truths.