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shutterstock_206755648Is it important for married couples to spend intentional time together each day? Few would argue with the wisdom of the practice but many would balk at its practicality. For many today the practice is simply not happening. A recent NY Times article written by Bruce Feiler indicated that it is increasingly common for husbands and wives to rarely see each other. The article focused on preferences and practices for sleep. Many wives are early to bed and early to rise each day while their husbands like to stay up late and sleep in a bit later. While some women are up early exercising and prepping for the day their husbands are up late watching Netflix or something on ESPN.

In my experience the practice is common for many Christian couples as well. Different sleep and lifestyle preferences combined with a desire to defer to one another leads to a lifestyle where very little time is actually spent together. There is a danger of simply living together rather than really living together. This tension is particularly acute for Christians. Our marriages are to joyfully reflect the reality of the gospel. In order to do so there must be regular expression of love, forgiveness, patience, respect, grace, and kindness. You simply can't do these things without spending time together.

In order to pursue the type of relational intimacy that requires the gospel of grace there must be some intentionality. We are all plagued by a demanding life, a unique set of trials, and indwelling sin. Furthermore, we have the same amount of time each week, the same commands, and the same Holy Spirit.

Some basics that I've seen pay dividends in my marriage and the lives of those Christian brothers and sisters around me include the following:

1) Sync-up Meetings. Each night after putting the kids to be we sit down to talk. We talk about whatever is on our minds. It is an invaluable opportunity to hear what we are thinking about, burdened by, and excited over without a lot of noise in the background. I look forward to these times each day. Instead of turning on the TV, set aside some time to sit together, look at each other face to face, and talk. Over time this will prove to be an opportunity for kindness, love, forgiveness, patience, and service.

2) Pray together. When I talk to older saints who have a good, godly, attractive marriage they always talk about the importance of praying together. Sure, praying for the urgent medical situation and the regular meals can be expected, but what about the daily prayer that thanks God for his persevering grace, petitions for more humility, confesses ugliness in an argument, or pleads for wisdom in parenting?

3) Learn together. Engage your minds together as a couple. It could involve such things learning something new, contemplating new ideas, or debating things. There is a surprising intimacy when you discover things together as a couple. The opportunities are many, of course, but could include anything from learning to swing dance to philosophy of parenting to political discussion. Intentionally engage your minds together.

4) Be Ordinary together. One of my favorite things to do with my wife is driving around and doing errands. Just driving around town is an opportunity to talk and listen. With kids in tow we parent together, laugh, and learn. Sometimes it may be more convenient to go alone but it is never more fun.

Over time we grow older and pursue what we want to. Married Christians should work to intentionally and jealously pursue time together. As we do we have the opportunity to joyfully reflect the gospel.

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4 thoughts on “Living Intentionally Together as a Married Couple”

  1. Pedro Cheung says:

    This is an excellent summary and very pertinent in my life right now. I struggle with being more intentional with my wife and hope to commit to praying with my wife more together and learn more things together. Having nightly couch times and ordinary moments will hopefully be the backbone of our marriage in the years ahead.

  2. Daryl says:

    Great article, but I have to say…the word intentional (or intentionally) is being used in some weird ways in Christian circles.

  3. Joe says:

    Thanks for the article Erik. Simple, timely and gospel-driven

  4. Marie says:

    Sitting down to just talk usually ends up in my husband getting angry and not talking to me for days. (This has been a consistent behavior over 21 years of marriage. ) A few years ago in Christian counseling the one thing the counselor urged my husband to do was to honor my one burning need to have him pray with me. It has never happened. We have learned to accommodate one another, and even avoid major conflict (except with respect to my adult children and our adult child). I think we honor God by persevering in spite of the chasm. We sleep separately, and have for years, because sleep is the operative goal and we disturb each other’s sleep if we are in the same bed. His health and mine cannot be sacrificed because others find it abnormal. Care and concern can be exhibited in the day to day things.

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Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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