You know you need God in your marriage for it to grow and remain strong and healthy. But you may feel as though you and your spouse are on very different pages when it comes to your spiritual life.
Having a deep spiritual conversation may feel intimidating or downright scary. Perhaps you've tried in the past and things didn't go well. You ended up frustrated, more isolated and feeling like a failure.
Here are steps that will help you get started having those conversations. Don't make the mistake of trying to talk about all these questions in one sitting. Choose one to three to begin with, and see where the conversation goes.
There is no greater intimacy that can develop between a husband and wife than when they commit to regularly bringing God into their relationship. Having these kinds of conversations will help you do that.
Before You Begin
For this kind of conversation to work well, you'll need to be intentional. Before you begin, these points will help you set yourself up for success.
Choose the Setting
Don't use these questions to ambush your spouse as they're rushing to leave for work or dropping into bed with exhaustion. Find a time when you will both be free from distractions and able to focus on each other. It might be date night, Saturday morning coffee or some other setting when you are both relatively well rested and able to listen well.
Listen to Your Spouse
Talking about these questions won't get you very far if you use them purely as an intellectual exercise. Look for what your spouse is trying to communicate underneath the words. Reflect what you hear them saying, and then share from your own heart. See yourself as investing from your heart in the spiritual foundation of your marriage.
Listen to God
Above all else, be looking for what God is doing—in your own heart, in your spouse's heart and in your marriage. Look for where He is already at work, and see how you might cooperate with that. It's best to begin with prayer—short and simple: "God, we are here seeking You in our marriage. Please show up and minister to us where we need it most. Thank You. Amen."
Now for the questions—the conversation starters that can help you explore your spiritual lives together and nurture what God wants to do in, through and for you.
1. What is your picture of God? Who is He to you? Biblical phrases and images are great, and it's wonderful to start there. But go deeper. Who is God to you experientially, emotionally? What kind of feelings or thoughts come up when you think or talk about God?
2. How did your picture of God come to be the way it is now? Has it changed? Messages we heard about God from parents, preachers, peers and others have a huge impact on our picture of God. Explore that. And continue to explore further how experiences—both good and bad—either brought you closer to God or drew you farther away from Him.
3. Where have you felt God's presence in the past? We each sense God's presence in unique ways. Talk about the times you knew He was near: helping you through a difficult circumstance; a particular book, movie, or other media; a church service; a time in nature; through another person' a time of solitude with Him; or whatever.
4. What are some ways in which God has grown you? How has He done so? God works uniquely in each person's life. Talk about the ways you are different today because of what God has done, and the means God has used to change you in those ways.
5. Where do you think God would like to grow you now? God never stops growing us. The Holy Spirit regularly puts His finger on something and says, "Here: let Me have this." Or, "You can do better here. Let Me stretch you." Share where you sense that God wants to change or stretch you going forward.
6. How might I as your spouse best support you in what God is doing in your life? This is about supporting what God wants to do, not how you want your spouse to change. This might look like praying for your spouse in a certain way, providing some aspect of practical help, holding your spouse accountable in some way, listening or something else.
7. When you pray for me, however little or much that is, what do you talk to God about? This can be quite an intimate point of conversation if you allow it to be. You can share about the changes you hope God makes in your spouse. But also share about the ways in which you are grateful for them and the gifts/abilities you are proud to see God developing in them.
8. What do you think God's opinion is of our marriage together? God sees and knows everything already, and He has the eternal perspective. Thinking and talking about this question can help you get a perspective on your marriage that is closer to God's perspective.
9. Is there any unfinished business between us that we need to bring before God together? God wants to bring healing and forgiveness to each of you individually and to your marriage. The way to experience that is to lay out any "junk" in His presence and invite Him to deal with it. His presence has a way of melting the hard places and healing the broken places in your hearts.
10. Where do you think God would like to grow our marriage? Just as God continues to grow each individual, He wants to continue to grow your relationship together. Talk about the kind of marriage you believe God would like you to have, and the ways in which you have not yet reached that goal but are working toward it.
11. Is there a specific area of our marriage where we need some extra help in order to get to where God wants us to be? There are many places available to get help for the challenges in your marriage. It may be seeking out a mature couple to offer some insight, a marriage counselor, a book, a marriage retreat, online resources, etc. Seeking out such help is a measure of your commitment to building the marriage God wants for you.
12. Do you think we need more of the Bible in our marriage? How could we do that? Among many other things that it provides, the Bible offers the most reliable and God-breathed spiritual nourishment for your marriage. Incorporating that might look like attending a couple's Bible study, working through a Bible study/devotional together or regularly sharing what each of you is learning in their personal Bible reading.
13. Do you believe we're in the church where God wants us? How so? Spending time with other believers who are seeking to grow spiritually will provide encouragement and help in many ways. What's important is that you both are getting fed spiritually, and that you do what you can to agree on where to worship together.
14. How do you think God might like to change our sex life together, if at all? Don't leave God out of your marriage bedroom. Sex is a vital component of the picture of the intimacy God wants to have with us. That being so, what does that say about your sexual relationship? Do you need help here? Get it. By talking about this openly together you may sense ways in which God would like to make this part of your marriage even stronger.
15. How do you think God might like to change how we handle money, if at all? Stewardship of your financial and other resources is a big deal to God. That means so much more than giving directly to God's work, although that is important. It means intentionally using everything He blesses you with in ways that are honorable before God.
16. Who are the people in our lives that God might want to impact through our marriage? Your marriage is not only about you. Others are impacted: children, extended family, friends, church acquaintances, those in your community/neighborhood, and more. How is your marriage impacting these other people? How do you believe God would like you to impact them?
17. What do you sense about God's purpose for our marriage going forward? Your marriage is no accident. God has you together for a purpose. Whether or not you started out as believers, God has a purpose for your marriage now. To the degree you understand it, what does that look like? How can you move toward that purpose more?
18. What are the dreams you have, either for yourself or for our marriage? Where is God in those dreams? Dreaming for personal success, special experiences, travel, or other goals is not anti-spiritual. Be open about what dreams you have, and then be just as open about where you see God fitting into those dreams. Make Him a part of it all.
19. What "next step" can we take to grow our prayer life together? Praying together is challenging for many couples. Start where you are now, and take one step forward. That might start with holding hands, praying silently and squeezing your spouse's hand when you're through. It might be praying out loud before dinner, or reading a Psalm or other prayer. It might be taking the plunge and praying out loud for your spouse in their hearing. Just take another step forward!
20. Where could we as a couple serve God better? What mission does He want us to pursue? Nothing is more satisfying than serving God together with your spouse. Look for an opportunity, a mission, a cause—some need or hurt that you can work together to make better. Talk about what that might look like.
Remember, all this isn't for just one conversation! This is meant as a kind of resource guide to show you the kinds of spiritual conversations that can help you and your spouse move forward in your relationship together and with God.
In the comments below, I'd love to hear what question you are going to discuss with your spouse, and when.
May God bless you as you invite Him into your relationship with a spiritual conversation.
Question: What question you are going to discuss with your spouse, and when? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board certified OB-Gyn physician and an ordained Doctor of Ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life that Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.
For the original article, visit drcarolministries.com.