When I was single, I began each morning on my couch, tea in hand, my journal, Bible, and Bible study piled onto my lap. I soaked up the peace and quiet of time alone with God. Responsible to no one but myself, it was easy to spend consistent time reading the Bible and praying.
My husband, Scott, also considered himself a disciplined person when it came to his spiritual life. He'd take an early jog and pray. Feet pounding the pavement, he unloaded to God all that was on his heart and mind.
This time alone was something we loved and respected about each other.
Then we got married.
Rather than hopping out of bed at the first sound of the alarm, I cuddled close to my new husband—just five more minutes! And instead of lacing up his jogging shoes, Scott reciprocated.
God will understand, I reasoned. He knows it's important for newlyweds to bond.
Morning after morning we stayed in bed until the last possible moment, during the day we called each other, then after work we rushed home to be together again. And God got pushed to the side without a thought.
A few months passed. While I loved spending every moment with my husband, I began to feel an emptiness in my spirit. It was as if I'd replaced God with my husband: Scott was my best friend, my companion, my confidant. But the truth was, he simply couldn't meet all my needs. I found myself talking to Scott, rather than God, when I was discontent or unhappy. Many times, however, Scott just didn't understand. He'd try to encourage or challenge me, yet I often wound up feeling more frustrated. I looked to Scott to bring me contentment and joy—and when he didn't, I felt a void. Deep down, I knew filling that void wasn't Scott's job.
One day Scott asked, "Have you spent time with God today?"
"I wanted to, but I just didn't have time."
"Me too. I need to get back into that."
But we never did. Day after day we had the same conversation: Have you prayed? No, but I wanted to.
Finally, I couldn't ignore the gnawing feeling that I needed to put time alone with God back on my priority list.
Scott also grew convicted. "It's been weeks since I spent time with God," he confessed. "I don't know how to make it happen like I did before we were married."
"I guess we have to commit to figuring out a way to make it happen," I replied.
It was clear that early morning wasn't going to be the best time for either of us to connect with God. Instead, I turned off the car radio during my long commute to work and spent that time in prayer. During my hour-long lunch break, I read my Bible. It was nice to have that quiet time in the midst of my busy workday!
Scott discovered the best time for him was in the evenings, when he first came home from work. While I made dinner, he slipped away to read his Bible and pray.
To get into a routine of praying together, Scott and I decided to combine it with two of our favorite things—getting coffee and walking on the beach. We made a commitment to hit the local Starbucks first thing Saturday morning and then head to the beach to walk and pray together.
Although it took us a while (and we still have plenty of days of inconsistency), it was important for us to realize that our time with God was going to look different as a married couple.
Setting aside time with God has given us a new perspective. By realizing only God can meet our deepest needs, we cultivate more realistic expectations of each other. It's freeing to know we're not solely responsible for each other's happiness! Our individual quiet times also open the door for God to show us things that are pertinent to each of us individually. My struggles are different from Scott's, yet as we share the things God is teaching us, we can learn from, and be challenged by, each other.
As newlyweds, it's easy to fall into the mindset that everything is about us—our time, our relationship, and our desires. While God delights when we prioritize time together, he also knows that our marriage will be that much richer if we seek him daily.
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