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Are You Married Strangers?

You can rediscover your spouse's heart
Are You Married Strangers?

Ever turn around and look at the person you married and think, "Do I even know who he or she is anymore?" It happens. Author Art Hunt says the key to really knowing your spouse lies in the spiritual aspect of your relationship—which, unfortunately, doesn't always come naturally.

In Quiet Times with the One You Love (Multnomah), Hunt insists that if you let the spiritual aspect of your relationship slide, you're missing the best third (besides the physical and emotional) of your relationship.

Fortunately, Hunt also explains that fostering a spiritual friendship with your mate isn't as difficult as you might think.

When couples complain "we really don't know each other," where does that feeling come from?

Couples need to come together in body, soul, and spirit for a complete sense of intimacy. If you're not coming together spiritually, then you've got a 33-percent boredom factor built into your marriage. You're not sharing something that is essential to who you are as a human being.

And that's dangerous because it leaves you open to believing the big lie—that it would be easier to split up and start over with someone else. There's greener grass somewhere else. That's the lie. The truth is, right now is the greatest chance you'll have to develop a great marriage.

So distance in a relationship is dangerous. What's the cure?

Relational intimacy has to do with spouses being willing to reveal who they are—then, in turn, to understand and accept their partner as they reveal who they are.

When you read Scripture and pray together, that's very self-revealing. You're unveiling yourself to God—in front of your spouse!

Getting that intimate seems like it would take a lot of time, yet you say 15 minutes twice a week is all it takes.

That's right. By investing even a small amount of time at first, couples will begin to see real benefits. For starters, shared quiet times and prayer promote couple intimacy. Intimacy is built when you reveal who you are and find acceptance. When you read Scripture together and then ask questions like the ones in my book, you begin to share what you think and how you feel. As partners do this regularly, they gain a picture of each other's heart. They can't help but grow closer.

How does that improved sense of closeness help strengthern your marriage in general?

Quiet times together give you a place where the problems of life won't overwhelm you. You can handle all the transitions, challenges and changes in your married life alone. Or you can, as a couple, come before God with your problems and become dependent upon him. I've noticed that when you don't include God, you're more likely to point fingers at each other when things go wrong.

If a shared spiritual life is so key to closeness, how come we have so much trouble developing one?

The answer boils down to three things, two of which aren't very surprising—time and priorities. It's easy to let the urgent push out the important in life. Today 60 percent of couples both work, so the pressing concern becomes how to get the laundry done. And yet, most couples admit they have some discretionary time so it becomes a question of priorities—a TV show or 20 minutes with God? But the third reason is that no one takes responsibility for making it happen.

So who should be the one taking that responsibility?

Whichever partner feels strongest about the need to establish a quiet time should grab hold and make it happen. Many couples want to have a shared spiritual life, despite the constant, downward pull of life. Couples will find that when one person takes the responsibility, soon it becomes a shared responsibility.

Get experimental

If you sense a creeping distance in your relationship, promise each other a one-month experiment in sharing some quiet times with God.

Art Hunt recommends a few minutes daily or 30 minutes on a Saturday. Talk about it, agree to it, then try to be as regular as you can in keeping your commitment.

Before the month is over, you'll probably be talking about what God is doing in your relationship. At the end of the month, decide if you want to make your experiment permanent.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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