Strengthening Your Marriage: 7 Foundations for Deepening Your Spiritual Connections to Your Partner
Having a successful and strong marriage these days isn’t easy to achieve. There’s a reason why so many couples divorce.
However, through our experience working with a lot of couples who are struggling with their marriages, we’ve identified seven key elements that help build the strong foundation needed to help this important relationship to thrive.
These elements are based on what scripture tells us about the marriage relationship. And when put into practice, they help you deepen your spiritual connection with each other and with God.
We utilize these seven foundations in individual counseling sessions as well as in marriage seminars.
To have a full understanding of what it means to be married, both husband and wife need to root their relationship in the truth of scripture. Very early on in the Bible, Genesis 2:24 tells us that a couple leaves their families and becomes one flesh. This image reveals the very heart of our identity once we’re married: we no longer belong to ourselves but to each other.
God uses marriage to help shape us more fully into the image of Christ. When we serve our spouse, we are serving Christ and living out his calling on our lives. This reality underlies our identity as a married couple.
True intimacy goes beyond sex. While physical intimacy is an important part of it, of course, complete intimacy means you can share your deepest thoughts and feelings with your spouse without fear or shame. You can fully be yourself.
The unconditional love that Christ shows us is what we should strive for in our marriage relationship. While we’ll never be perfect at it, it’s a cornerstone component of the spiritual bonds in marriage.
Marriage unites two people into one. When you committed yourself to your spouse, they became the number one person in your life. That means that other people should not interfere with that relationship or create friction that wears on the fabric of your connection. We can refer back to Genesis 2 and see that our families of origin take a lesser role compared to the needs of our spouse after marriage.
Likewise, scripture is full of admonitions about guarding our hearts and avoiding temptations. Maintaining clear boundaries when it comes to friendships with the opposite sex once you’re married is vital to the health of your relationship. These boundaries are easily blurred in our society, but they can quickly lead to emotional affairs and more that can wreck a marriage.
It may sound obvious that good communication is vital to keeping any relationship healthy and connected. But anyone who’s been in a long-term marriage knows that men and women really do have different ways of communicating! Add the stress of work, child-rearing, household management, and community involvement—and any two adults are bound to end up with crossed signals.
Scripture encourages us to think of each other first in all of our actions and words. 1 John 3:16 tells us to lay our life down for each other. When it comes to communication in marriage, we need to put hurt feelings and blame aside in order to learn to speak in ways that the other person can hear. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.
Conflict is normal in any relationship. The important thing is learning to manage that conflict in a constructive manner. Every marriage is different, but every couple has trigger points of conflict—whether it be about the speed limit, what brand of cereal to buy, or how long the in-laws can visit. Joking aside, conflict occurs for many reasons.
Proverbs 15 reminds us that a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word creates anger. And Ephesians 4:26 urges us to not let the sun go down on our anger. It also says to not sin when we’re angry.
It’s important to remember that scripture does not say we shouldn’t get angry. Anger itself is not a sin; it’s what we do with that anger. When we’re able to learn to manage conflict in a healthy way, our marriage will grow and become richer.
Let’s face it, numerous responsibilities and distractions likely make it hard to keep our marriage at the top of your priority list. But many spouses, often women, are deeply hurt when it feels like other things take precedent over their needs. It may be, for example, the other person’s career or friendships outside the marriage.
Matthew 6:21 states that our heart will be where our treasure is. If our marriage isn’t our top priority, we need to step back and evaluate what is most important to us. It takes time and effort, but readjusting priorities to make sure our spouse truly holds the key to our heart and treasure is always worth it.
As much as it may seem so from popular television shows and movies, marriage is not disposable. It’s not intended to be something we toss aside when we get bored, upset, or meet someone else we imagine will make us happier.
God takes marriage very seriously. Marriage is an icon of Christ’s relationship with us, his church. While there are many serious situations that can warrant a divorce, most people can readily agree that our society’s divorce rate is not ideal.
Hence, when we get married, our spouse needs to know that we are truly committed. They need to know that we’re in it for the long haul. Only this kind of commitment can create deep spiritual bonds that will sustain you across the decades. If you’re committed to each other, putting the other six foundational elements into place will be easier.
Of course, the biggest foundation for a healthy marriage, underneath all of these seven elements, is God himself. The way in which he loves us is the ideal to which we strive when it comes to our spouse. Many marriages experience a rocky road, but it is possible to navigate those bumps and reach a smoother path with his help.
If you and your spouse are in a painful place, we sincerely encourage you to reach out to our office to learn more about marriage counseling. We’ve worked with many couples over the years and know how life-changing counseling can be. The intimacy and closeness you felt early in your relationship can be restored and even made deeper.