Spiritual intimacy. In our survey of more than 700 couples for our book The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women, women ranked it as their #3 Love Need. If I (Barb) asked you right now if you’re meeting your wife’s need for spiritual intimacy, what would you say? Maybe you’d say you’re trying, but you’re not quite sure where to begin - or how to keep meeting it.
If you want to meet your wife’s love need for spiritual intimacy, then you must view your marriage as a cord with three strands: God, husband, and wife. God is the central strand around which the other two are woven. And since God must be inextricably woven throughout the marriage relationship, it is not surprising that the need for spiritual intimacy factored high on our needs survey for both men and women.
Spiritual intimacy may take several forms, but from a wife’s perspective it involves her husband’s own spiritual growth, their shared spiritual growth as husband and wife, her communication with her husband about spiritual matters, and her husband’s spiritual leadership in the home.
Your wife longs to experience the fulfillment that comes from knowing you love God and are willing to serve him by being an effective husband and father. So as you strengthen your relationship with God and take on your God-given role in the home, you will help her strengthen her relationship with God and with you.
She Needs to Be Growing Spiritually
Your wife needs to be growing spiritually, and while you are not ultimately responsible for her growth, you can contribute to that growth in significant ways. As you approach her, remember that you are not the source of spiritual strength for your wife. God should be her source of strength; he is the One who truly meets her heart’s cry. But as a husband, you are fully responsible for modeling Christ’s love for her and pointing her to that exclusive One who can meet her deepest needs. And you can encourage her to quench her spiritual thirst by her involvement in Bible studies, prayer groups, women’s conferences, or other settings where she can grow in her relationship to Christ.
She Needs to Be in Fellowship with Other Christians, Especially You
Spiritual fellowship is a relationship of two or more people who are hungry and thirsty for the same thing and who are mutually satisfied as they jointly experience it together in Christ. Fellowship occurs when we encourage and support each other and pray for each other; it’s joining together as a happy, healthy spiritual family, where we can open up, feel connected, and enjoy each other.
She Needs to Express Her Spiritual Gifts
God has given each one of us varied spiritual gifts. As we exercise those different gifts, our faith grows, strengthening our character to sustain us in fighting the battle in other areas of our lives. Women grow in their faith as they are stretched to lean on the Holy Spirit to equip them to do his work. They stand back in awe of what God does as he gives them gifts and skills to accomplish his work.
What spiritual gifts do you see in your wife? What spiritual gifts does she see in herself? Is she exercising those gifts? How can you help her exercise them so that she and the people around her will grow spiritually?
She Needs You to Be a Spiritual Leader in the Home
How can you be a spiritual leader in your home? What does your wife need from you? For one thing, she needs you to be a spiritual sounding board, to tune in and listen to her. She may have a greater need to talk about spiritual things than you do. Don’t be put off by that. Listen. Ask questions. Share your insights with her.
Your wife needs you to focus on her spiritual strengths. When you see her make a hard decision based on her convictions, commend her. When you see in her a depth of character, tell her what you see. When you are drawn to God because of her, let her know.
Your wife needs you to have a vibrant spiritual life. She needs to see that God has first place in your life. When you fill that place with your work, your interests, or your activities, you rob God of his rightful place, and everyone suffers. But when you place God first and keep him there, you provide not only a strong model for members of your family but also a sense of security for them.
Your wife looks to you to lead by example. A spiritual leader goes to church with the family. A spiritual leader is consistent, acting the same in public and in private. He demonstrates a desire to grow. A spiritual leader leads the family in studying the Bible; he leads in prayer. These things may be hard for you. If you take even small steps toward this kind of leadership, your wife will love it and be encouraged by it. Your willingness means everything to her.
A husband and wife who build their marriage on the foundational commitment to pursue God above all are able to share fears, anxieties, joys, and dreams. They are able to open themselves up and share thoughts and feelings, even when they hurt. They are free to experience transparent honesty, knowing that they love each other unconditionally and that neither will ever walk away or point fingers.
Don’t leave your wife hurting and yearning to experience spiritual intimacy, longing for what could have been. Today’s a new day. Begin it by committing yourself to developing a spiritual closeness with your wife—your very best friend.