20 Years of Valentines

Photo Credit: desireux via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: desireux via Compfight cc

Last summer, Brandie and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Charleston. On the drive down we reflected on our twenty years together, thanking God for His grace and guidance in our lives. We decided to take stock of the things that we have learned about marriage and would want to pass on to others. For Valentine’s Day, our twentieth in marriage, here is our list of 20 for 20:

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How You Can Build Intimacy in Your Marriage

Recently, I said to a group of friends that I believed prayer was the most intimate activity a person could share with his or her spouse. My comment got some raised eyebrows, some chuckles, and more than one blush! I understand why, for sure. The prevailing worldview around us sends the message that physical intimacy is the pinnacle of a relationship. Earlier in my life I would have agreed. Physical intimacy is critical in a marriage; it should be enjoyed, not neglected. Nevertheless, without spiritual intimacy with God and each other, the rest of your marriage will never reach its full potential.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jo Christian Oterhals via Compfight

Consider this: the God of the universe has invited us to call out to Him in prayer promising that He will answer us (Jeremiah 33:3). His promise to us is that if we seek Him with all of our hearts we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). What a privilege and a promise! God calls us to relationship with Him in Jesus Christ. That relationship is deepened through prayer. We are told in James 4:8 that when we draw near to God then He will draw near to us. It makes sense, then that if my wife and I are both drawing nearer to God in prayer, then we will also draw nearer to each other.

When Brandie and I were going through our premarital counseling, our pastor describe our relationship with God and each other by drawing a triangle with God at the top and each of us at the opposite lower corners. He noted on the drawing that if we each moved “up” the triangle (closer to God) then we were also drawn closer to one another. Note: the goal is to draw closer to God, the side effect is growing closer to each other.

How can you develop an intimate prayer life with your spouse?

1. Spend time alone with God on your own first. Your time of praying as a couple cannot replace your own time with the Lord.

2. Set a time. We have found it best to pray together when we go to bed. Yes, this means we go to bed together on most nights. This requires some sacrifice if one of you is a night owl and the other is an early bird. It may mean giving up that TV show or magazine. You must decide what’s most important.

3. Keep it short and simple. Many people are intimidated by prayer and are embarrassed that they fumble through the words. Don’t sweat it. Your prayer doesn’t need to be long and it doesn’t need to be eloquent.

4. Both of you pray. Sharing prayer requests with each other is good, but hearing one another’s hearts as you pray out loud will give you insight into each other’s needs, hopes, and fears. It can seem awkward, as I said above, but if you are committed to trying it will get easier over time.

5. Get started. Using a guide may be helpful. Two Hearts Praying as One, by Dennis and Barbara Rainey is a good book to start with. The little book contains 30 days worth of brief devotions and guided prayers for husband and wife. 30 days can make a habit.

So, make prayer the most intimate part of your marriage. Then don’t be surprised when all other parts of your relationship get better, too!