Brandon and I both hold our faith pretty close to our hearts. It isn’t something that we live out publicly or that we talk about frequently. To us, our faith and our relationships with God are a private matter. We defer to
We know that is not a total prohibition on prayer. Jesus himself prayed publicly on numerous occasions. It is, however, a clear message to not pray for the sake of being seen publicly praying. There is no need to make a spectacle of your relationship with God. We hold our faith to be something intensely personal. While that is something we both strongly believe in, there are still times we want to come together and grow spiritually together.
We want to come together in our growth but we also want to maintain our own separate relationships with God. At times, it’s a challenging balance to strike but we have found 8 things that really work for us.
Share your blessings
We love to share the ways we feel or see God moving in our lives with one another. Whether it is something as small as having anxiety lifted off of your heart over something you’ve been struggling with or something as powerful as answering a prayer regarding an illness, financial emergency, or other crisis, it’s important to share it with your spouse.
It helps recognize positive actions, behaviors, and circumstances while giving credit to the Lord.
Tithe to the church or donate to charity
The other day I shared my favorite two charities with you. We feel it’s important to give where you can and to give to causes you are passionate about. Giving back helps us feel connected with the huge world around us. We choose charities that we feel lift others up, improve someone’s quality of life, and lead to a better future.
We see God working in these changes (I support clean water + worldwide literacy) and it helps us see God working in us as well. The Bible frequently talks about helping your brothers and sisters grow; giving back where and how we can encourages us to continue to do good works.
Check each other’s thoughts + behaviors
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1-2 ESV
My favorite part of that oh-so-quotable passage is “for with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged” as it’s a great reminder to uphold the values and rise to the expectations that you expect of others. Brandon and I agree that it is to each of us individually to choose the lifestyle we want to live. However, as partners in this life we hold each other accountable for our thoughts and behaviors because we have made a commitment to our chosen lifestyle.
When I speak out of turn or out of anger (example: I hate “this person” because…) he will remind me that I shouldn’t hate and that I should try to find a way to forgive and be kind. It’s a reminder of love and it keeps us focused on God.
Respect private time with God
Every day Brandon and I share our own private time with God. It is our time, one-on-one to pray and talk to God. It’s uninterrupted and it’s limitless. Whether I need to take 10 minutes or 1 hour, Brandon gives me the time I need to talk to God. He doesn’t ask about it, try to involve himself, or try to take God’s place in the conversation with me. He respects that I need that time with the Lord and, in return, I do the same for him.
Your relationship with God is an intensely private matter and you deserve to have quiet time together. A strong individual relationship with God leads to more happiness, inner peace, and personal strength. Seek it for yourself and respect it for your spouse.
Yes, you have to respect your partner’s private time with God but you should also take time each day to connect with God together. Brandon and I do this through prayers of gratitude such as prayers of thankfulness or a prayer over food. We keep the pleading prayers private but share gratitude together. You don’t have to pray together the same way we do, some couples prefer to pray the pleading prayers together and that’s totally ok. Do what works for you but pray together often.
Discuss the Bible together
I hold quite a few opinions and beliefs that are controversial in the Christian community. I don’t condemn homosexuality. I don’t believe that creation took place over a continual 7-day period (Sun – Sat), instead I choose to believe that creation took place over 7 days which were separated by long periods of time. There are others but they aren’t relevant right now. Brandon and I discuss our interpretations of various events based on our individual study and prayer.
We don’t schedule these discussions; they tend to happen organically. For example: we started talking about the timeline of creation after SportsCenter mentioned that an NBA player supported the ‘flat-earth theory’. Be open to conversations about interpretation and be careful not to condemn one another’s thoughts or feelings. If you differ, seek answers and wisdom in studying your faith.
Serve each other
The Bible says a lot about our behavior within the vows of marriage. One of the common themes is serving your spouse. It is important to serve one another in a way that lifts each other up and brings out the best in us. It’s a partnership and it reinforces the understanding that love of another means giving and serving. This does not mean sacrifice of self, a lack of independence, or acceptance of a controlling or abusive situation. Rather, it is a relationship of respect and honor. Each person brings their own strengths to a relationship and those strengths should be put to use in a way that supports and encourages your partner.
My husband and I each have our own personal and professional strengths which we use to balance each other in our weaknesses.
Admit your doubts, fears, and flaws
Admitting that your faith isn’t flawless can be fantastic for our shared relationship with God. I’ve never met a person of faith who didn’t experience moments of doubt, times of anger, or instances where they were flawed in their belief. It happens to all of us. A prayer goes unanswered, a crisis hits you, a devastating loss occurs, etc. and you feel disappointed or angry. You might forego prayers of gratitude for a while (a day, a month, etc.) or you might express your anger toward God out loud and in fury. It happens.
Admitting these moments when you’re weak in your faith allow you to be vulnerable before your partner and gives them the opportunity to encourage you and support you. It’s often in this weakness that we find ourselves strongest in our relationships with others. Share these moments.
If you have any other favorite tips to help grow spiritually with your spouse, I’d love to hear them!