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More than us: How marriage can draw you closer to God

Written by Amy Van Veen

From the thrill of wedding anticipation to settling into the roles of husband and wife, it can be easy to forget that marriage is about far more than just two people. What if the marriage wasn’t seen as an end in and of itself? What if it was seen as a means of drawing closer to God?

According to Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, “The reason God became flesh was so that we might know him; correspondingly, God did not create marriage just to give us a pleasant means of repopulating the world and providing a steady societal institution for the benefit of humanity. He planted marriage among humans as yet another signpost pointing to his own eternal spiritual existence.”

The following are just some of the ways Thomas, in his book Sacred Marriage, outlines how your marriage can help you grow spiritually and draw closer to God.

1. Learning to love

According to Thomas, “Marriage can be the gym in which our capacity to experience and express God’s love is strengthened and further developed. To get there, we have to realize that human love and divine love aren’t separate oceans, but rather one body of water with many tributaries. We show our love for God in part by loving our spouses well.”You might be in a season of your life where loving your spouse is the furthest thing from difficult, or you might be in a season where loving them is a struggle; either way, marriage deepens our understanding of what it is to love. God doesn’t love conditionally, nor does He want us to. The love He pours onto us and the love we then pour out on others isn’t dependent on how much that person is getting on your nerves or how much you’ve grown apart. After all, Thomas explains, “Christian love is displayed in loving the most difficult ones to love.”

2. Learning to respect

“As our partners and their weaknesses become more familiar to us,” Thomas writes, “respect often becomes harder to give. But this failure to show respect is a sign of spiritual immaturity more than an inevitable pathway of marriage.” Ultimately, learning to respect is a choice: “Contempt is conceived with expectations. Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude. We can choose which one we will obsess over – expectations, or thanksgivings. That choice will result in birth – and the child will be named either contempt or respect,” he writes.

3. Learning to forgive

Conflict in marriage is inevitable, but it needn’t be spiritually destructive. Even conflict can be an opportunity to draw closer to God. “Conflict provides an avenue for spiritual growth,” Thomas writes. “To resolve conflict, by definition we must become more engaged, not less.”Marriage teaches us – indeed, it practically forces us – to learn to live by extending grace and forgiveness to people who have sinned against us,” he continues. “If I can learn to forgive and accept my imperfect spouse, I’ll be well-equipped to offer forgiveness outside my marriage. Forgiveness, I’m convinced, is so unnatural an act that it takes practice to make perfect.”

4. Learning to serve

“Marriage creates a situation in which our desire to be served and coddled can be replaced with a more noble desire to serve others – even to sacrifice for others,” Thomas explains. “This is a call for both husbands and wives. The beauty of marriage is that it confronts our selfishness and demands our service twenty-four hours a day. When we’re most tired, most worn down, and feeling more sorry for ourselves than we ever have before, we have the opportunity to confront feelings of self-pity by getting up and serving our mate.”

Emotional Intimacy – 5 Tips to Grow Intimacy in Your Relationship

 

 

Emotional Intimacy seems  simple and straight forward, but can be  surprisingly elusive.  Emotional intimacy can vary greatly from couple to couple, person to person and from one time to another. Emotional intimacy is the perception of closeness.  Emotionally intimate couples have a shared expectation of understanding, affirmation and sharing of personal feelings and bonding.

Emotional intimacy can set the tone for all other types of intimacy in a relationship, making it a heavily discussed topic among relationship therapists and family therapists.

Here are 5 basic ways you can cultivate more intimacy every day:

  1. Quality Time –  Text, email and social media are very efficient ways to communicate throughout the day and get things done.  When you want to spend intentional quality time with your spouse, most couples find it useful to silence the electronics and put them in a drawer  or basket while time is spent focused on the people around them.  If its family game night, dinner or conversation over tea couples report feeling like they get more value out of time spent without the distraction of electronics.  In this scenario quality is of greater value than quantity.
  2. Be an open door – Acceptance is the biggest component of emotional intimacy.  If someone feels accepted exactly the way they are, they are more likely to open up and also accept you.  What is acceptance exactly?  Acceptance is loving a person without criticism, exceptions, judgement or control.  This doesn’t mean we never disagree or disapprove of their actions.  Rather, it is a “I will disagree with you and still honor you, your thoughts, feelings and independence” practice. Disagreements are normal and healthy and individuals in a relationship should have their own independent ideas and thoughts without fear of being criticized.
  3. Plan fun –  It’s 2019 and it feels like every minute of every day is scheduled.  “Honey, did you put that on the calendar?” is a daily conversation it seems.   Can we effectively schedule play and fun?  Of course we can!  Whether it’s once a week or twice per month schedule play time in advance and make sure it gets scheduled so nothing sneaks in there and takes it away.  You can schedule something specific like sports, crafts or watching silly videos on the internet together or be more flexible and leave it as open free time to spend with one another or the family.
  4. Talk bout what you want –  avoidance kills intimacy.  Assuming your partner knows what you need or avoiding the topic hoping it will ‘blow  over’ is a recipe for a broken heart.  Let your partner know you desire more quality time, more fun time, more deep discussions and lively conversation. Speak up when you need help or have big news.
  5. Practice, practice, practice.  –  The more we open up to our significant others or allow our partners to open up to us without fear of judgement or criticism the more we are likely to continue.  Don’t let the opportunity to have your spouse be your best friend and confidant slip away.  We are all searching for that deeper connection to authentic intimacy and there is no quick fix.  You deserve a strong, healthy relationship and so does your partner.

If you ever feel like the intimacy is lost, you’re feeling alone or your relationship is too damaged to recover, don’t lose hope.   Our counselors are dedicated to your success as a couple and in life.  It’s never too late to try again.

 

 

 

If you or someone you love is  wanting a vacation in paradise, one that will re-kindle the passion that has been lost? A vacation without kids. A vacation where you learn how to communicate. A vacation where your partner actually hears you and gains insight – Vacation Counseling is Your Next Vacation.