Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT
God’s plan for marriage is incredible. It involves bringing two people together who are just right for each other (Genesis 2:18), and they help each other conquer the challenges of life. Together, they are stronger and more victorious than they could ever be alone.
But here’s the thing: we only experience God’s plan for our marriages when we strive to make our relationship spiritual.
Every day, God allows us to choose how we will live our lives and build our relationships. We can live by the spiritual guidance he gives us, or we can follow our own desires. These two paths lead to very different outcomes in every area of our lives, including our marriages:
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 NLT
This passage paints a picture of a lack of spirituality. Following our own desires in marriage will lead to the sins listed above—impurity (or unfaithfulness), idolatry (expecting our spouse to meet our needs in the way only God can), quarreling, hostility, outbursts of anger, division, jealousy, and “other sins like these.”
If we see ourselves in this passage, we’re not alone, and we’re no worse than any other married couple. The outcome will be the same for anyone who follows their own desires and feelings instead of following God’s guidance.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
When we live God’s way and build a spiritual marriage (one in which our relationship with God is the biggest priority in our lives and we follow the guidance of his Word), God’s Spirit will produce good fruit in our lives. Our marriages will be filled with love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.
These qualities must come from a spiritual source bigger than ourselves; as hard as we try, our human shortcomings will inevitably show themselves. Any human efforts to be loving, patient, kind, or anything else on this list will probably be short-lived or eventually meet circumstances too strong for them.
As iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].
Proverbs 27:17 AMP
If we want to make our marriages more spiritual, a good place to start is having conversations about what we really want, how we view God, who we want to become, and whether or not we believe we can grow.
Discussions are a great way to discover unexplored areas of our hearts. We may not always be aware of the desires, fears, and experiences that are driving our actions, or the thoughts and patterns of behavior that might be holding us back from fulfilling God’s destiny. As we talk and listen to each other, we can influence each other to become more spiritual. In this devotional, we will cover four types of conversations that will transform our marriages by focusing us on God, his vision for our lives, and the ways he is helping us grow.
What do we desire most?
One of the most important things we should talk about if we want a spiritual marriage is what we desire most. We all have times in life when we aren’t getting what we hoped for; maybe we feel unhappy or unsettled in our marriage, friendships, or career. Whatever the source may be, we don’t like the direction our lives are going and we can feel that God is not coming through for us or is opposing us.
These feelings are difficult and uncomfortable, but they give us the opportunity to ask ourselves and our spouses an important question: What do we desire most? Is our heart’s desire an intimate walk with God? Or do we desire something else more, like comfort, success, or a life without certain difficulties?
I ripped the kingdom away from the family of David and gave it to you, but you have not obeyed my commandments as my servant David did. His heart’s desire was always to obey me and to do whatever I wanted him to.
1 Kings 14:8 TLB
God cares about our “heart’s desire,” so making our marriage more spiritual is not about improving our religious behavior but helping each other with the desires of our hearts. We will feel unsatisfied if our hearts desire something other than God because he created us with a divine sense of purpose that nothing else can satisfy (Ecclesiastes 3:11 AMP). Unless we slow down to ask ourselves and our spouses this question, our hearts will wander to other things or people to find what they’re looking for.
Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
2 Chronicles 1:8-12 NIV
God wants to take care of our physical needs and give us an abundantly full life, but he also wants to ensure our priorities are in the right order. If they’re not, he knows that we will feel perpetually unsatisfied and will use people and things to satisfy ourselves. When our heart’s desire is in the right place, God will help us find what we are looking for.
Who are we meant to become?
Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
1 Corinthians 13:7 TPT
Another conversation that will help our marriages become more spiritual is talking about who we are meant to become. This is a forward-looking and visionary conversation, and it helps us love one another in the way God intends.
If we don’t have vision for one another and as a couple, we will feel defeated whenever we fall short. We will resent each other’s failures and want to give up when we hit hard times (which will inevitably come).
Instead of giving in to unbelief, bitterness, and frustration, we can help each other by discussing who we are becoming. God works through everything for good (Romans 8:28). Every experience—every victory, failure, weakness, and strength—can be part of God’s plan to help us become what we are meant to be. Instead of categorizing each event in our lives as good or bad, we can spend our energy understanding how these events are all part of shaping us into something great.
To get started in this conversation, here are some questions to reflect on individually or with your spouse:
- What are some lessons God has been teaching us lately—both individually and as a couple? Who could we become if we embrace those lessons?
- What unique strengths, weaknesses, and experiences do we have that could benefit others?
Do we have a healthy view of God?
I always pray to the great and glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that he will give you the Spirit, who will let you know truths about God and help you understand them, so that you will know him better. I pray that God will open your minds to see his truth. Then you will know the hope that he has chosen us to have. You will know that the blessings God has promised his holy people are rich and glorious.
Ephesians 1:17-18 ERV
Even those of us who have been Christians for years don’t necessarily have a healthy view of God. Sometimes the way we think and feel about God is not based on the truth of the Bible but rather on our experiences. We can make our marriage more spiritual by discussing our view of God and helping each other get to know him better.
An unhealthy view of God will affect everything we do. It might make us self-reliant, convincing us that God doesn’t care about the small details of our lives and that we should just take care of things ourselves. It might make us worship our spouse and crave love from them that only God can give, which will in turn lead to resentment. It might make us arrogant and self-righteous toward our spouse as we rely on our performance to earn God’s approval instead of appreciating his grace.
If we don’t talk about our view of God, we will end up discussing issues that are not the source of our strife or unhappiness. We will focus more on what we think our spouse should change rather than helping each other find the hope and blessings God has promised us.
If this is a topic that resonates with you, check out our new book, He’s Not Who You Think He Is: Dropping Your Assumptions and Discovering God for Yourself, which goes to greater lengths identifying many of the misconceptions we may have about God.
Do we have a growth mindset?
This conversation is similar to the “Who are we meant to become” conversation but with one key difference. This one is about whether we put our energy into learning or into looking good.
The term “growth mindset” was coined by Carol Dweck, a psychologist who summarized her findings in this way:
“Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and put more energy into learning.”
A growth mindset helps us put more energy into learning than trying to look like we have a good marriage on the outside. If we put most of our energy into the way we appear to other people, we will feel unnecessarily stressed by the struggles we encounter in our marriage. We’ll want to cover up our arguments, needs, and challenges instead of asking God and others for the help we need.
Here are a few passages of the Bible that describe a “growth mindset”:
No, we will speak the truth with love. We will grow to be like Christ in every way. He is the head, and the whole body depends on him. All the parts of the body are joined and held together, with each part doing its own work. This causes the whole body to grow and to be stronger in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16 ERV
So we continue to tell people about Christ. We use all wisdom to counsel every person and teach every person. We are trying to bring everyone before God as people who have grown to be spiritually mature in Christ.
Colossians 1:28 ERV
I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until he completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again.
Philippians 1:6 ERV
I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven.
Philippians 3:12-14 ERV
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:2 NLT
It’s clear from these passages of Scripture that God wants us to have a growth mindset. He wants us to believe we can grow and change; we are not “fixed” as we are today. Change is possible. We don’t need to hide or feel defeated by our current challenges or sins, nor do we need to be offended if someone points out an area in which we could grow.
Instead, we can be excited about growth and change because we believe God is at work. He is transforming us to be more like Jesus. As he does, our impact on the world will be more like Jesus’s.
I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative-that is, the Holy Spirit-he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
John 14:25-27 NLT
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to remind his followers of everything he wanted them to know. The Holy Spirit would advocate for them and help them experience the spiritual peace Jesus promised. A spiritual marriage is one guided by the Holy Spirit to follow the teachings of Jesus, and the gift of a spiritual marriage is something the world can’t provide us.
We hope the questions in this devotional encourage you and your spouse as they prompt conversations that enrich your faith, vision, and intimacy with God and each other.