Over the years of counseling, I have heard many women and men say that they wish their husband or wife was more involved with them spiritually. As a Christian and a pastor, I think this is an awesome request and desire. But I have noticed some things that concern me about this topic and issue. Here is my major concern. I think we need to be careful we do not create a definition of Christian marriage that is not real. I think what many men and women are longing for is sometimes a combination of what is clear God wants for a married couple, but it is also coupled with the version of marriage the individual thinks Christians are supposed to have. They went to a conference, read a book or talked to a married couple and they are freaking out because their marriage does not look like what they heard about or what they saw.
Here are some things I think we need to be careful about when it comes to going after a marriage that honors God:
- Your marriage does not have to look like theirs. Yes, you are Christians and so are they, but that man is wired different than your husband and you are wired different than that man’s wife. Your patterns, rhythms, pasts, hopes, personalities are not the same. So how you go about things like date night or time together in the Bible or spiritual conversation does not have to look like what “they” do.
- He may still be leading you, ladies, even though you are not having Bible study time together. For some couples, couples’ devotions do not work. For some couples, it does. Some couples like to pray together daily. For others, that is actually not beneficial for various reasons. Ask yourself, is he taking your family to church? Is he serving others and his church? Is he talking to your children about Jesus? Is he reading the Bible himself? Is he praying? He may be leading quite well and for whatever reason is not comfortable or ready to engage in a study the way you want him to.
- Christian marriage has more to do with treating one another like Christ would treat the other person than what book you are reading together. I know of couples that read the Bible together but are mean to each other. Christian marriages are strong when spouses behave like Christians. Is grace being given? Forgiveness? Gentle speech? Service? Thoughtfulness? Support? Kindness? Respect? Faithfulness? An absence of these things is not erased by a joint prayer time.
- Christian marriages that are strong are built on the common mission of reaching people. Disciples want to make other disciples. When two disciples are married, they want to be a force for reaching people. This is a big deal. When your joint focus is to keep the gospel moving forward you are much less likely to dwell on the Christian health of your marriage. You know why? There is health that comes from releasing each other to reach the world and from reaching the world together. And when your eyes are focused on reaching and serving others, it is a lot harder to find the flaws in your situation.
I really needed this message today! About 10 min before I read this, I prayed that my fiancé would be more loving, generous, and caring towards others and reach out to them. After reading, I started thinking. And the truth is that we ARE a more “Christian” like couple in a better way if we practice our Christian ways separately rather than forcing each other to do them together. This message couldn’t have came at a better time!!!