Faith Mates

Faith Mates

by Susan Graham Mathis

The challenge of blending two spiritual lives

He shook his head dolefully as we talked about our future marriage and my thoughts on spiritual intimacy. “I’m not so sure I’m knowledgeable enough to be the spiritual partner you need me to be,” Dale said. “You know the Bible so much better than I do. You’ve been a Christian decades longer than I have.”

Over the course of our conversation, Dale realized that God’s plan for our spiritual intimacy did not depend on how much time we’d spent in a church—or even the amount of understanding we each had of spiritual things. We both deeply loved God, and that was a great place to start building a spiritual foundation.

Since we’d both been single for many years, we were used to developing our spiritual lives on our own. We had to learn how to share our deeply personal spiritual lives and grow together as a couple. As we’ve worked to deepen our spiritual intimacy, I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Express appreciation

Dale’s steps in creating a Christ-focused home were not what I had expected, but our life together has ended up even better than anything I had planned. The tone and attitude he established set a firm foundation for our marriage.

I may have subconsciously expected to marry a pastor-like man. Dale did not live up to my unrealistic expectations, but he did fulfill the role God designed for him in our marriage. Though he didn’t sit me down every night for an hour of prayer and Bible study, Dale lived out 1 Corinthians 13. He incorporated the fruits of the Spirit into everyday living, and he directed many of our conversations to what Jesus would say or do.

In such an atmosphere, instead of holding on to my preconceived expectations, I enjoyed the journey of growing together spiritually.

Encourage each other

One of the most productive things I found I could do is encourage and empower Dale with genuine love and appreciation. When I see him take a positive spiritual step, simple affirmation gives him the courage to continue building our spiritual intimacy.

I watch for those moments—when he takes the risk to pray in a group or offers comments during one of our Bible studies. I make sure I let him know how proud I am of him and acknowledge his initiative. As I applaud his efforts to seek God, our spiritual relationship grows stronger day by day.

Work as a team

Naturally, I sometimes wish my husband would change in certain ways, but I know better than to nag or criticize. One friend of mine thought that if she nagged her husband enough, he’d take his rightful place as a Christian husband. Instead, she built a wall of criticism that kept him from even trying. Now, years later, they are spiritual strangers.

As I take my concerns to God, He teaches me to be patient and entrust my husband to Him. At the same time, I must continue pursuing my own growth without worrying that my husband might fall behind. We’re not running a race but travelling together on a lifelong journey; the progress of either one of us benefits both.

Be a team

Dale and I keep in mind that we are a team. So we make plans together regarding our spiritual life: church involvement, small-group connections, goals for prayer, Bible study, tithing and other disciplines. We address all these things as a couple, even if both of us don’t participate in all of them at the time.

Though each of us may grow in different areas at different times, we will stay connected spiritually as long as we work as a team and pray for each other. Praying daily is especially important to us—whether together or on our own. As we cover each other in prayer, our hearts and minds naturally come to a special place of love and desire to see God work in our spouse.

As we’ve encouraged and accepted one another, and trusted God in the areas where we fall short, we’ve found that our spiritual intimacy is one of the most beautiful aspects of our marriage.

Sidebar:

From One Husband to Another – by Dale Mathis
Men, we are to provide spiritual leadership and companionship for our wives. Even if you think this sounds like mission impossible, God will help you be successful as you put your trust in Him.
As provider, protector and leader of your family, you should create a spiritual atmosphere in your home and protect your marriage by keeping your life holy. Be the spiritual partner your wife needs—praying for her as well as with her, studying God’s Word together and on your own, being a part of a church and small group with her.
Welcome your wife’s input about your life, learn from her and enjoy the spiritual journey together. This way you’ll become who God called you to be and find, like I did, that it’s not as hard as it might have seemed.

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