When my husband and I married nine years ago, we were flooded with aids to structure our devotions together—needlepoint mottos ("The Couple That Prays Together, Stays Together"), Bible-reading schedules designed for two, prayer journals with two columns and lots and lots of books. So we figured that joint devotions were just one of those things married people do—like sharing a bathroom or sleeping in the same bed.
Sleeping in the same bed wasn't easy (we're both sprawlers, snorers and leg-jigglers), but eventually we figured out how to fall asleep together. But joint devotions? We decided to start out by praying together in the morning, but we couldn't manage to synchronize our body clocks. I got up early to swim, but my husband slept in. We switched to bedtime. My vocal prayer style is short and terse, while my husband's is conversational and wandering. I would pray in a few brief sentences and then, listening to the soothing sound of his voice, I would find myself mentally rearranging the cabinets or (worse) dozing off.
We hadn't been married long before I realized that I was having trouble finding time for my private devotions—let alone additional time for joint prayer. I was staying up later at night, talking to my husband, entertaining company, trying to finish up work I hadn't done during the day. And I was getting up later in the morning. When we had a baby (and then another and then another), time alone got even more scarce.
Over the years, I've managed to carve out time for private devotions. There are weeks when prayer falls out of the routine, but I usually manage to haul it back onto my schedule before too much time goes by. But in the decade we've been married, my husband and I have never been able to establish joint devotions. This is partly due to the pattern of our lives. We both work, we don't use childcare and we home school. I get up and work from seven a.m. until one in the afternoon, while he has child-duty, and then take over the kids. My husband then works from one until seven or eight in the evening. We all eat a late dinner, and then we put the kids to bed and fall onto the sofa in exhaustion. Weekends are family time. Every two weeks or so, we leave the kids with my parents for an evening and have a date (on our way out the door, my husband likes to say, "Run away! Run away!"). We like our life, but there's not much time in there for shared devotions.1