My wife and I have been married for 25 years, and I wish I could tell you that we have this marriage thing nailed down. But the fact remains, marriage is always a work in progress. What has become clear in the past 25 years is that unity in purpose brings about greater intimacy in marriage. And don’t we all desire greater intimacy with our spouse?
Unity does not magically happen at the altar, however. It must be cultivated and nurtured over time.
Too often we expect our spouse to “get on board” without taking the time to talk about the train we want them to get on and where it’s headed.
In our overly-scheduled lives, we don’t take the time needed to grow together ... and so many couples simply grow apart.
My wife and I have been intentional over time to grow together as “one” in as many areas of our marriage as possible. Here are some tips on how you can bring more unity -- and greater intimacy -- to your marriage:
1. Be Unified Emotionally
How we communicate with our spouse builds the emotional bridge of trust on which our relationship rises and falls. We should be acutely aware of welcoming each other into the safety and warmth of honest exchange of our innermost thoughts and feelings, questions and fears, struggles and temptations. Building emotional trust is critical to our pursuit of unity.
2. Be Unified Spiritually
The significance of spiritual harmony in marriage is extremely important. We must not only be “on the same page” about what we believe but also encourage and nurture our spouse’s spiritual development and growth. If each spouse fiercely and intentionally guards the other’s efforts toward spiritual enrichment, then they will grow toward one another in spiritual intimacy.
3. Be Unified Sexually
Our “me first” culture that reveres and advocates for the relentless pursuit of “self” has often destroyed what was meant to be a holy and unifying expression of intimacy. “Sex is as much a spiritual mystery as it is physical fact.” (The Message) Addressing sexual desire -- or lack thereof -- in marriage is necessary to fulfilling God’s design and purpose for a couple.
4. Be Unified Vocationally
This is an area of our marriage we haven’t explored until recently. Often overlooked and rarely sought out, good marriages thrive on vocational unity -- that is, a joint mission or calling. If two become one in marriage, then we must ask ourselves, “For what purpose were we brought together?” Finding our marital mission will give our relationships more purpose, more intimacy, and more meaning.
5. Be Unified Parentally
Parenting is meant to be a two person job. While most parents divide and conquer day-to-day tasks, we must take care that in this division of responsibilities we aren’t inadvertently dividing into separate sides. Ultimately, our parenting goal is simple: “To bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) When we strive to meet that mandate, we come closer to parental unity.
After 25 years of marriage, we still haven’t “arrived.” Striving toward a more unified marriage may be a life-long journey that brings us ever closer to the goal without ever crossing the finish line.
And that’s okay.
God intended our marriages to be a haven not a battleground. By pursuing greater unity with our spouse, we discover the intimacy that we so often crave.
Mitchell is a pastor and co-author of the "Undivided" devotional series: Undivided Family: Living FOR And Not Just WITH One Another and Undivided Marriage: When TWO People Become ONE Flesh. He has the privilege of being the husband to Rhonda and the father to two daughters. As a family, they love traveling, hiking, snorkeling, and outdoor adventure in general. You can follow Mitchell on Twitter @mitchellsowens, Facebook at /mitchellandrhonda or Instagram @mitchellsowens