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Married couples share so much of their lives together, as they should. It is a blessing to have a life-long partner you can encounter shared experiences with of all God has given us in this life. Even though being spiritually connected to each other is vitally important to a healthy marriage, so is maintaining healthy spiritual lives as individuals. Having a love for God gives the marriage a common interest and focus. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of each individual to cultivate their relationship with God, aside from seeking God as a couple and desiring a healthy marriage.
In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul admonishes the believers to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). We can never become so focused on any one area or relationship in our lives that it overshadows our ability to remain devoted in maintaining our relationship with God. When our fellowship with God is out of alignment, so will all other relationships in our lives be out of balance. The biggest, best gift you can offer your spouse is the fruit you consistently bear from a flourishing relationship with Christ. The overflow of a rich, fulfilling relationship with the Lord reaps a harvest of blessings in your marriage that pays exponential dividends.
Here are some tips to consider as you intentionally build healthy spiritual lives as individuals.
1. Practice the Spiritual Discipline of Solitude Daily
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Just as important as it is for you and your spouse to have uninterrupted time alone with each other, it is just as valuable that you have uninterrupted time alone with God each day. Jesus’ example of practicing solitude is recorded throughout the Gospels, as He models for us the necessity of spending intimate time with the Father. In Matthew 14:23 (KJV) it says, “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”
Another example of Jesus retreating to commune with God is found in Luke 5:16 (KJV), which tells us, “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” Being alone in the presence of God is vital to our continued spiritual growth and formation.
Even if we could realistically be with our spouse 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is not a healthy idea. We need to spend time alone with our Creator because the more we cultivate our relationship with God, the more we become who we were created to be and manifest the glory of God revealed through our lives. We learn more about ourselves when we commune with God, and He teaches us more about Him. This strengthens and prepares us to show up as the best version of ourselves in all other relationships, especially in our marriage.
There is a satisfaction we can only experience in the presence of God. When we create opportunities to celebrate being alone with God, our spirit is renewed, and our soul finds rest that cannot be known with any other. If practicing solitude with God is not part of your daily routine, I encourage you to incorporate it. Morning, noon, or night – it does not matter the time of day you choose – just be sure to carve out time you can intentionally be with Jesus.
2. Participate in Spiritual Engagement Apart From Your Spouse
It’s true. Couples who pray together stay together. So do couples that make Bible reading and study time together a spiritual resource for their marriage. However, praying and studying the Bible with others apart from your spouse also contributes to maintaining healthy spiritual lives as individuals.
Sharing in community with other believers provides support and encouragement to keep progressing in your relationship with God. For example, if you are a woman desiring to be a godly wife, being in a community with other women who share the same desire can benefit your marriage as you engage spiritually with each other. Other women can provide accountability, honesty, and motivation in a different way than when engaging with your husband.
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) reminds us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” If the only person we partner with along our spiritual journey is our spouse, then we will not enjoy the advantage of being sharpened in multiple practices by multiple people God places along our paths. Joining a small group, having a prayer partner, and attending a conference with people other than your spouse are excellent ways for us to continue developing our relationship with God.
3. Serve in the Area of Ministry God Has Called You to Serve in His Kingdom
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When you get married, there will be unique opportunities God allows for you and your spouse to serve others in ministry as a team. Maybe you will go on a mission trip together, volunteer in a food pantry, or advocate for seniors or youth ministry initiatives. Marriage allows for a beautiful, unified effort in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, if God has placed something on your heart that your spouse does not have an interest in, you should still pursue it.
If God gave you a passion to serve in a particular area of ministry before you married, that passion will not likely go away just because you are no longer single. How you serve may need to be tailored to fit your new context of one who is no longer unmarried, but it does not mean you cannot continue to serve in a way that esteems God, brings you joy, and strengthens your spiritual walk with the Lord.
Serving in ministry is a privilege. It is an honor to serve God through serving His people. Although we pour out to others, through this process, God often pours back into us. As our relationship with God is impacted positively, we gain the advantage of fostering healthy spiritual lives as individuals.
We have been saved by grace for God’s holy purposes. 2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV) says, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purposes and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” Our purpose is connected to God’s providence. God does not change His mind about our calling once we marry. Marriage can very well be a part of the plan. But if a couple does not share the same ministry callings, assignments, or passions, it is okay for them to serve in those areas of ministry as individuals.
We continue to grow in God as we fulfill our God-ordained purposes. This is crucial to our ongoing personal development as healthy individuals with healthy spiritual lives. A supportive spouse will appreciate their partner committing to follow God’s plan for their life and be their biggest cheerleader.
One sure way to have a thriving marriage is to have a thriving spiritual life as an individual. Whole, healthy couples serve each other from the overflow of their thriving relationship with God. We glorify God most when we make seeking Him our first priority and primary focus above all else in our lives.
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Championing women to live authentically and pursue God passionately, Patrice Burrell is called to lead others to the grace of God, rooted in the truth of scripture. She is an author, life coach, and worship leader who loves practicing the presence of God through a lifestyle anchored in spiritual disciplines. As a Bible teacher and preacher, she exhorts women to remember their true identity is defined in Christ, not culture. When not serving at her local church with the small groups and singles’ ministries, Patrice enjoys visiting local Orlando attractions, reading books while sitting along the beach, and finding unique ways to explore her writing creativity. You can connect with Patrice on her blog, Warrior Woman Blog, on social media in her Facebook community, Warrior Women, and @patriceburrellministries on Facebook and Instagram. Patrice is excited about her new book release, Living My Best Life: Embracing God’s Gift of Living Full and Single. It is a six-session Bible study designed especially for single women. You can also check out her debut book, Warrior Slay, a devotional book on the power of worship and prayer.
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