The very best gift you can give your spouse, spiritually, is a gift that will actually serve you as much as it serves your spouse.
Ask yourself, “How can I help my spouse draw closer to God and learn to draw from Him on a daily basis?” Anything you can do to help your spouse draw nearer to God will bless you ten times over.
Let me speak as a husband: ninety percent of the changes and attitudinal adjustments in my marriage haven’t come about after my wife confronted me. They came about after a time of prayer when my heavenly Father convicted me, reminded me that I’m married to His daughter, and insisted on a change.
From that point on, it was about me and God even more than it was about me and Lisa.
Nagging doesn’t work. In the history of marriage, you won’t find one relationship dramatically impacted in a positive way by frequent nagging.
But Holy Spirit conviction?
Men, why wouldn’t you want your wife to meet regularly with God, knowing He will be your advocate if your wife gets too busy or distracted or simply starts to lose her zeal to be fully engaged in your marriage?
Here’s what I’ve found: the less I receive from God, the more I demand of my wife. The more I receive from God (worshipping, praying, studying His word, opening my heart to His moment by moment life-giving presence), the more I am able to love my wife, the more zealous I am to excel as a husband, and the more I have an attitude of serving my wife instead of demanding from my wife.
So the very best gift you can give your spouse—and yourself—is to help him or her find time and passion to regularly connect with God and to do the same yourself. That may mean joining a church or small group where your spouse is inspired to follow the examples of other men or women. It may mean giving her extra time in the morning or weekends to have some unrushed time with God while you take care of the kids or pick up the house.
As much as I’m a fan of marriage books (trust me on that one!), marriage counseling, and marriage seminars it’s sad how often we go for the big solution of human advice instead of a steady diet of God.
He is an able source, a trusted friend, a powerful ally, and an empathetic comforter. It is crucial if you want a monumental marriage that you pursue God with a new passion, and learn the secret of life in Christ—not as a religion, an obligation, or a guilt trip but learning to draw from a personal, living source who wants to love your spouse through you.
In some of their marriage seminars, Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott have used my book Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God as a tool to help couples discover how they best connect with God. We don’t all “connect” with God in the same way, and Sacred Pathways is all about learning to understand the way God made us so that we can craft a “quiet time” or devotional time that fits who we are.
You might be a “traditionalist” who will meet God most effectively with time-honored rituals and practices. You might be an “intellectual” and will find your heart most awakened when you learn new concepts or truths about God. Perhaps you’re a naturalist—who meets God best out of doors—or a sensate, who enjoys bringing all five senses into play when you worship. There are several other pathways, nine total.
Understanding your own temperament will help you write a self “prescription” to more intentionally meet with God and receive from God on your own. And understanding your spouse’s temperament will assist you in giving them the time and place they need to surrender their hearts and minds to God.
Giving your spouse time to connect with God and encouraging them to pursue Him more and more is one of the most gracious, loving, and wise things you can do as a spouse.
Your marriage will be better served when God becomes a bigger and bigger influence in your life. He will help you love others (including each other) more. He will help you lay aside the petty sins and motivations that bring so many marriages down. He will supply more patience, gentleness, courage, humility, and generosity—all of which will greatly bless your union.
Sadly, God’s presence is the greatest un-tapped source of strength in marriage. Too many couples settle for a once-a-week (or less) church service, a perfunctory personal “prayer” time, and leave it at that—just enough to not feel too guilty about it but never enough to draw real power from it.
If you take the time to meet with God regularly you will find, as I have, that you crave it more and more, particularly when you feel free to craft a time with God that fits who you are. As you seek to draw ever closer to each other, recognize that the most powerful way to do that is to first draw ever closer to God and let Him provide the grace, motivation, and love that will lead you to a fulfilling marriage.