When I got married, I was thrilled (and still am) to spend my life with a godly man with the Bible as one of the core foundations in his life. I studied my Bible daily as well, spend time in prayer, and attended numerous church studies and fellowship events. Both of us had found a companion to share our faith with, but not long into my marriage I found my relationship with God change. Not a good type of ‘growth’ change, but a distance based one.
After a lot of reflection, prayer, and talks with my husband, I finally began to realize where I was falling short with God and began to repair my relationship with Him. It also became evident that this wasn’t a problem isolated to me, but something that others struggled with as well. Below you will find my advice on navigating your faith life (including possible problem areas) once married, though some of these tips can be used in context within any relationship (friendship, mentor, etc). I hope that you find these insights and helpful as I did.
Your relationship with God is not the same as your husband’s (and vice versa)
I had respected my husband’s faith and Bible study habits long before we had started dating. The time he took for it, the in depth analysis and application of scripture, and his willingness to speak vocally to evangelize non-believers. Naturally, my admiration lead me to want to study more like him, but as I tried, suddenly my reading of scripture started to become shallow and more of a chore. I felt I was getting little to nothing from my scripture readings. Sometimes it would be fine, but the connection I felt with God when I read was fading. This also began to occur with my prayer life, as I sought to compare how I prayed with how he prayed. My husband is very eloquent in his speech, which can be heard when he prays out loud. He also has a sound knowledge and memorization of scripture, which aids him in evangelizing. Me on the other hand, I am shy and a bit socially awkward, and though I can explain what I’ve read in writing, my memorization and willingness to vocalize falters, because of this my prayer life has always been more interior than exterior. When I would hear my husband pray, I felt my own prayers were crude in comparison, too casual, too this, and too that. Then the whispers of The Enemy would seep in, trying to convince me that my prayers were inadequate, that God didn’t listen to my prayers. I began to rely on my husband to pray out loud and my own prayers became vain repetitions with a side order of doubt.
Although it isn’t wrong to seek spiritual leadership from your husband (or mentor or pastor), you shouldn’t let it sideline your own spiritual life, you also shouldn’t compare yourself with others. Yes we are called to always do better faith wise, but each of us are blessed with different spiritual gifts, skill sets, personalities, and perspectives, this can be seen in 1 Corinthians 12. God created us individually and He calls us to a unique relationship with Him, with His own will for our lives. It’s kind of like having a mutual friend with your husband, there will be times when you all hang out together, and there will be times when you each spend time with that friend alone in different ways. Both are valuable and important. How I interact and serve God will be entirely different than how my husband does. Both of us are called by God to do different things, even within our call to marriage, our roles are different.
Once I regained my own voice and began praying and studying the way I used to, scripture took on new life and my prayers became more intimate. This also isn’t a problem found only in marriage and can be found within our friendships and church communities. God gave us all unique gifts, it would make no sense if the body of Christ (the church) was made up of the same parts, all are needed to serve God. God meets us where we are and no good relationship is ever founded on trying to be someone else. Where my husband is gifted with prophecy, evangelism, and understanding of the Word, I’m gifted with faith, exhortation, and mercy. And each of these gifts are valuable to the church and how we apply them will be different.
Your role as a wife is just as important as other areas of service to God
This may be an unpopular opinion in today’s society, but God created men and women differently, and when called to marriage, the roles of husband and wife are different. This can be seen clearly in Ephesians 5:
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
There was a point last year, that I was getting frustrated that God didn’t seem to have a use for me. I feared that I was bearing no fruits and wasn’t really saved. These were obviously in hindsight lies, but at the time they seemed so real to me. My husband was quick to point out that a part of my service to God was being a good wife as defined by scripture. That others could be brought to know Christ by how he and I carried ourselves within our marriage with the proper respect and obedience to our God ordained roles. Although, I was trying to be a Biblical life) wife and my actions were out of love for my husband, I missed the connection that they should be done out of love for God first. And that God is the one who called me to marriage and called me to be a wife, not my husband. Thus, the very act of being a wife, is in itself, service to God, as long as it is accordance to scripture.
God will use all of us in His own timing, but we shouldn’t neglect the roles He has already called us too, be it within marriage or while single. It isn’t about being the wife you think you need to be or even the wife you want to be, it’s about being the wife God calls you to be.
Speaking of marriage roles…
It is important to follow God’s words for your marriage. Outside of being faithful to your spouse, God also has preordained marriage roles for husband and wife, as can be seen in the scripture quote above. Other references can be found in Colossians and Genesis. By subverting these roles or not giving them their due importance, we are going against God’s word, which can dramatically impact our relationship with God. Most women are okay with their husbands caring for them and loving them as Christ loves His church, but many today rally against the part where wives are called to submit to their husbands as they would submit to Christ. By rejecting this scripture, is to reject the truth of God. We can’t pick and choose what scriptures to follow, as it says in 2 Timothy:
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
It’s either all true or none of it is true. By not submitting to our husband’s, we are also not submitting to God thus damaging our relationship with Him .
A godly man will love his wife and treat her well and turn to God when disagreements arise. Just as a God woman will turn to God for help as well. Yes marriage is a team, but every team has a leader, every team member has a role. When those roles aren’t followed, the team suffers as a result. The scripture is also not telling men to be tyrants or abusive, for Colossians states “Husbands, love your wives and be gentle with them.”
It is also important to understand what Biblical femininity is. A good resource can be found in this book by Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal (Baird) . It isn’t about being a doormat or a prude, true femininity lies in the freedom Christ has given us and living Godly lives accordingly.
Taking time to be with God
Most of us have likely spent most of Christian walk single. We learn to navigate our prayer life and our study time in the context of our day to day lives. However, once we get married, suddenly we have the needs of a whole other person to consider and our time management needs begin to shift. We are no longer looking out for our own needs, but our spouse’s as well. Prayer can then get left until late or rushed in the morning, and our Bibles can remain unopened for days on end, as we learn to navigate marriage life. Suddenly we begin to feel distant from God and a weight and discomfort begins to settle in with that loss. That is why it’s important to to speak to our spouses about our spiritual needs and to respect theirs as well. They are likely going through similar, and often our flesh can be demanding of their time.
Spending time alone with God isn’t neglecting our loved ones, it’s helping us to love them better and to become a better person. The same goes for our husbands. Although it is important to pray together and to read in communion, our one-on-one relationship with God is also very important, if not more so. We can’t be good wives, if we are neglecting our time with God in favor of other things. We aren’t being good to our husbands by preventing them from spending time with God either. So take the time to read your Bible and pray alone. Take the time to do it together as well. Marriage was first ordained by God (Genesis 2: 22-24; Proverbs 18:22), but God also created us for relationship with Him primarily (many verses show us God’s love for us).
Loving God first
We are called to first love God, then to love others as our self, as it says in Mark 12: 30-31:
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.
This is true within marriage as well. By loving God first we learn to love others as He loves, thus we learn to love our husband’s better. If we disrupt this balance, placing our husband’s first, our relationship with God will suffer, our marriages will also suffer, as no human man can ever fulfill the needs God alone can fill.
When I was struggling with my prayer life last year, my anxiety disorder was back with a vengeance at the same time. I began to cast all of my anxieties on my husband, relying on him to help me to feel sane, to share my burdens, to fix my problems, and to carry me. He loves me, so he tried his best, but quickly became overwhelmed and frustrated. I was giving him a load, that only God can bare, and with the imperfect humanity of my husband, I became frustrated at times as well. Unfortunately I couldn’t figure this out on my own and didn’t believe my husband when he asked if my priorities were straight and God was first. It wasn’t until God made it painfully obvious that I realized the errors I had made. Once I began to to go to God first and rely on Him, everything became a lot easier to handle. Even areas where I didn’t realize were affected improved and a huge stress was lifted from our marriage. My husband was finally able to breathe as well and didn’t have to worry quite so much about not being able to fully help his wife.
Keep God at the Center
Marriage is a blessing given by God. Only God can truly hold a marriage together, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). He should be central to the relationship. A married couple should be helping each other draw closer to God, rather than impair it. This can be done in demanding time when the other wants time alone with God or neglecting that a husband and wife should also unite and spend time with God together. By not keeping God central, we are denying Him full access to our lives. This can occur when we let unchecked sins and weaknesses into our marriage, which ultimately separate us from God as well.
We need to constantly strive to draw closer to God and trusting Him faithfully with our marriages, repenting and correcting sin as we go. Our marriage is a gift from God that we should always be thankful for and when problems arise it should be God that we go to in prayer. Marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship with His church, as can be shown in Ephesians 5 above, this must be the context in which we conduct ourselves, with are marriages as an active service to God.
Some of the above, I personally struggled with, some are struggles that I heard of from others. I am by no means an expert and if struggling with your faith life, seek God in prayer and ask for wisdom and guidance, turning to the Word of God for aid. He will never lead you astray. If this is something your husband is struggling with, pray for him as well. You could also speak with the pastor of your church or a Christian mentor. This is a part of our duty to each other as followers of Christ, ” Bare one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Questions to reflect and share
What advice would you give to newlyweds to help them maintain their spiritual life?
If discerning marriage, how are you preparing for it with God?
How can the unchecked sin seep into our other relationships and cause problems?
Do you have any advice for engaged couples as they prepare for marriage?