Last week I started talking about what is relationship intimacy. In that article, I gave an overview of intimacy, how important it is to develop in our romantic relationship, and then shared five types of intimacy. Over the next five weeks, we’re going to take a deeper dive into each of those different types of intimacy, starting the series off today with spiritual intimacy.
Let’s start with defining what spiritual intimacy is and of course, this is my definition of spiritual intimacy which I’ll explain why in a moment.
In last week’s article I shared this definition of intimacy: showing a close union or combination of particles or elements: an intimate mixture.
Now let’s combine that with the definition of spirituality which is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in our lives.
To me, spiritual intimacy is being able to share your ideas about spirituality with your partner and allowing your partner to do the same in a supportive, non-judgmental way. Spiritual intimacy is the mixture of our ideas coming together, not to change one’s belief but to understand better and appreciate our partner.
To be honest though, the selfish part of me wants to say that spiritual intimacy is him having similar spiritual desires as me.
With that said, let me explain my definition. When I went searching on Google for the definition of spiritual intimacy, many Christian definitions came up. Though I highly encourage couples to pursue this area before a marriage commitment to make sure they are equally yoked, the truth is that many of us aren’t. This is true in my relationship, and it is definitely an area I seek to challenge myself to grow in, so this is why I didn’t include spiritual intimacy as a sense of unity and mutual commitment to God’s will in our lives and marriage. I highly encourage couples to pursue an equally yoked spiritual belief because you are going the same direction and bring different strengths to the walk, which creates a deeper connection with each other and your belief.
I believe that my definition spans over all committed relationships, whether both are believers or unequally yoked. When we share our beliefs, it keeps us open and honest around our struggles, not defensive because the other one doesn’t believe what we believe.
Increasing Spiritual Intimacy
Let me share my personal experience with spiritual intimacy in my marriage relationship because this is definitely an area that I have struggled with and am gingerly pursuing with curiosity. Since intimacy is about creating a close union between a couple, all topics want to be brought up and explored together; nothing should be kept inside and not shared because that restricts the union from growing closer. My personal experience has been that I have been insecure in my own spiritual beliefs and felt awkward talking about them out loud. This is where the problem started early on in my relationship with my husband.
This is what it looked like:
Me: “Are you Christian?”
Me: “My relationship with Jesus is important to me, is that ok?”
That’s pretty much where it ended and that caused a lot of drama later in our relationship, so much so that it was the foundation of why I started seeking relationship help. There was a point in our marriage where words came up around who was more important to me, God or my husband, and my innocent response spiraled a threat of separation. In the end, it was one of the best things that could have happened for me, my relationship with my Saviour and my relationship with my husband, Jeff.
As I continue to pursue a better, more close relationship with my Saviour and my husband, I see that the area of spiritual intimacy is missing. Because of that, we have put up a barrier to connecting more deeply intimately.
The first step to increasing spiritual intimacy in your romantic relationship is to let go of expectations.
It’s time to stop judging and start exploring each other’s beliefs. I love the emotion of curiosity; it helps me explore other people’s beliefs and consider them within the context of my own beliefs. Does someone else’s belief increase my current belief? I say always. When we listen to someone else’s belief with an open mind, we get to dig deeper into the why’s behind our own belief. Yes, it might pull us away from what we currently believe, but we wouldn’t feel compromised by this pull because we’ve done our own research and re-created our own new beliefs.
Secondly, be open and honest around your spiritual beliefs.
Even if that means that you haven’t thought much about it, the invitation to talk about our beliefs helps us to explore what it is we want to believe and why.
Why do you think we close up when a topic is brought up? It is often because of fear, fear of judgment, fear of someone disagreeing with our opinion, fear of sounding stupid, or worse yet, someone telling us that we’re stupid. As we continue to do this work of re-wiring our brain what we learn, as I spoke about in my previous article about other people’s opinions, other people telling us we’re dumb doesn’t need to mean anything if we believe that we’re not dumb. Only when we believe what someone tells us is that we get defensive and lash out or withdraw.
The third way to increase spiritual intimacy is to embrace the discomfort around putting yourself out there.
If you and your partner have not explored your spiritual beliefs together as a couple, starting now will feel uncomfortable. In pursuit of a more intimate connection in your relationship, what would you choose to do? I am a big believer in planning, and this is no exception.
When you think about the goal of wanting to increase spiritual intimacy, what steps might you want to take? This is completely personal but here are a few suggestions:
- Think of a good, simple question to ask; an example could be: “What do you think happens when we die?” This question has brought several interesting conversations for Jeff, my daughter, and me.
- Don’t have any expectations or judgments around their response, but one rule I have is that they can’t say “I don’t know.” Included in no expectations is that your question may not be reciprocated. They may not want to know what your response is, especially if they judge themselves as not knowing the correct response, yet the truth is, there is no correct response, just their response.
- After the conversation, you can look at what worked, what you learned, what didn’t work (maybe you got defensive), and what you might do differently next time. This process allows you to look at what you accomplished positively and learn how you might take the next step forward.
- I also love using the following phrase, which helps open up the conversation to going further versus shutting it down, “What I love about that is… and…” With this approach, every idea is appreciated rather than judged before the next idea is generated in reaction to it.
Once we start opening up to sensitive topics, we start learning more about each other, which increases our desire to be with them and fuels the desire to know more.
Also, to be aware of the word “sensitive.” Take time in your planning to understand why you haven’t talked about these things and why they feel sensitive. One of the biggest reasons we feel sensitive is because we are opening ourselves up to be judged as wrong or ill-informed, and the process is learning how to be ok with that and not making it mean that we are wrong. These exercises of opening up to a more intimate relationship with our partner are about exploring and learning, not judging one as right or wrong.
I’d love to hear about your journey to becoming more spiritually connected with your partner and what you have done to obtain that result. If you’d like more help learning how to start the process of becoming more spiritually intimate with your partner, please reach out; I’d love to chat with you about it.
I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true self. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.