Prioritizing the Spirit, Mind, and Body of Your Marriage
When I was a young mother, I read every parenting book I could get my hands on, obsessing over raising amazing kids. It was my number one priority. And then, out of nowhere, I felt the familiar nudge of the Holy Spirit, almost like a whisper, and I will never forget it… “I will never anoint you out of order. Start with your marriage.” WOAH. I knew exactly what God was saying to me on that day. It wasn’t that he didn’t want me to be a great mom and raise amazing kids, it was that he didn’t want me to do it at the expense of my marriage. Order matters.
I decided to work on a few things that I had been neglecting in my marriage. I wasn’t sure where to start; I just knew I wanted to love my husband as wholly as humanly possible. So I decided to start with the foundation: spirit, mind and body. Years later, I would discover that connecting with my husband in these three areas gave our marriage strength that would stand the test of time.
If you want to connect with your spouse more intentionally, here are some ideas that have worked for us:
Clif and I have been married for almost 31 years now, and our spiritual life has been the nucleus around which our relationship has deepened. Your relationship with God is at the heart of who you are, so it makes sense that our marriages will be strengthened when we invest in our spiritual lives together.
Depending on the season of our family life, the way we nurtured our love for God together shifted. We went on evening prayer walks in our neighborhood, attended small group gatherings with other families, or even invested in weekend getaways to focus on growing together spiritually.
Sometimes a quick kiss and a prayer as one of us was running out the door for work or a meeting was what we could give. Still, it was something. One thing Clif did consistently, that he still does now, is to pray for me. And I pray for him. Sometimes we do this in each other’s presence but oftentimes not. Just knowing we pray for each other has strengthened our marriage.
What are some ways you can spiritually connect with your spouse?
As a busy woman, wife, mother and about a half dozen other titles, it can be easy to forget the importance of nourishing our minds. It’s even easier to neglect as a couple. The amount of new, interesting, thought-provoking information we absorb on a weekly basis is astounding, and this can be a bridge for connecting with your spouse in a powerful way. Be intentional about sharing what you’re learning, what you’re thinking about, what you find interesting.
When the kids were very young and it was hard to have stimulating, uninterrupted conversation, we did something called “Couch Time.” For about 20 minutes Clif and I would reconnect in the evening while sitting on the couch together. Alone. It was a time for just me and him, and we taught our children to respect that time. They were allowed to watch a show, play a game or play with each other in another room until Couch Time was over. In more recent years we have read and discussed books, enjoyed a good documentary, and currently we’re spending time mentoring young people and serving in ministry together. It’s not that we need to do all of these things together but that we take the time to use them as another connection point in our marriage.
What are some ways you can mentally or intellectually connect with your spouse?
When we think of connecting physically with our husbands, many times we immediately think of sex. And while that is a key component to a healthy marriage, we first have to become comfortable with our own bodies. Remember, order matters. Your physical connection with your spouse will only be as intimate and healthy as your relationship with your own body.
I have not always loved the body I’m in, and it has held me back from connecting freely with my husband. So, I had to get real about this love/hate relationship I have with physical exercise and find something that I enjoy (I use that word loosely), that would help me appreciate my physicality. Something I could realistically commit to. For me it’s walking and a rowing machine. For you it might be yoga, cycling, swimming or any of the many ways you can move your body. This is not about weight loss or improving your figure; it’s about giving yourself the gift of peace with your physical self. Making the decision to move my body has improved my physical connection with my husband in incredible ways.
What are some ways you can physically connect with your spouse?
Clif and I are loving the empty nest phase because we have committed to putting in the work. We have been intentional about our connection, and it has paid off. If you want to draw closer to your spouse and find ways to strengthen your foundation together, start with these three areas: spirit, mind, and body. Consider making a date to assess how things are going in these three areas of connection, and brainstorm ways you can come together more often. Take one small step in each, and you will experience the gifts of a God-ordered life.
Hear more wisdom from Deborah Porter at our finale Comeback Tour on May 5. Deborah will be one of our special guests! Register here.