Encouragement: We encouraged each other to pursue our interests that were individual but not mutual, and in the process, we were able to discover, develop, and use our God-given talents to the fullest (such as by attending evening meetings of groups that enrich our respective careers and pursuing separate volunteer service projects that reflect the different ways God has called us to contribute to His kingdom). We were able to say “yes” to God when He called us to do something rather than limiting our faithfulness whenever saying “yes” required time apart. This was a crucial choice to make in order for our marriage to lead us closer to God: God had to be first in our lives, and that meant sacrificing time together to be free to follow wherever He led us.

Solitude: We gave each other the space we needed to meet our intrinsic need to spend some time alone. God has created all of us with a need for solitude to reflect on our lives, and also to focus best during our times with Him in prayer. Jesus modeled a lifestyle of regularly making time for prayer in solitude. We spent time in solitude praying, thinking, walking, and reading. Afterward, we were refreshed when we joined each other to spend time together again.

Trust: We trusted each other enough to spend time with others (such as family members and same-gender friends) without worrying whether or not either one of us would use the time away to sin. Spouses who worry about what one of them may do when they’re apart (from spending too much money to having an affair) often see suspicion damage their relationship. Knowing that we trusted each other not to engage in activities that would dishonor God or hurt each other made us feel safe and valued by each other, which drew us closer together.

Interest: We grew more interested in learning something new about each other when we spent time apart and then reunited afterward to talk about our experiences. It was like dating again! Spending too much time with anyone (no matter how much you love the person) can start to feel boring after a while, because you become so familiar with each other that you take each other for granted. Although it’s a cliché, the expression “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is true. Spending some time apart regularly infused our marriage with a fresh sense of appreciation for, and interest in, each other.

Spending some time together is important in marriage, but so is spending some time apart. Finding the right balance, with God’s help, can strengthen the bond you share with your spouse!

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles. Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer. 

Publication date: October 17