Then we pray. Lately, we have spent some time praying on our knees. It is a time of drawing close to God, and it has also become a time of drawing closer together. I love this time of communication. There is nothing magical about this spiritual exercise, but it works for us. The important issue is to find something that works for both you and your spouse. You’ll also notice above that I included “book of the month” as one of the points under our plan. It is a great idea. We tried it, and it didn’t work for us. But maybe when life slows down a bit, we’ll find it helpful.

Time With Other Couples

You will notice that a common theme in what they call the “temptation narratives” in the Bible is isolation. Even when Satan tempted Jesus, he took Him to the wilderness and isolated Him from other people. Far too many couples are isolated from any other replenishing relationships. Who has access to your life as a couple? I believe we need at least three types of spiritual and relational accountability. We need mentors, peer support, and whenever possible, we need to be mentoring other couples.

Do you have mentors in your life as a couple? I know for us, Cathy and I had very few role models when we first got married. We didn’t know many couples we wanted to imitate in our own marriage. One day we were talking about the need to find mentors for our marriage, and a couple from our church came to our mind. They had successfully raised three kids and had been married for a number of years. We asked if we could come by and ask them some questions about building a God-honoring marriage.

If we would have said, “Will you mentor us?” they might have said, “No, we don’t see ourselves as mentors.” Fortunately, we didn’t give them the option to turn us down. We simply asked if we could get together. The meal time and conversation was so pleasant and helpful that we asked if we could get together again sometime. Today, this couple would probably say they have been mentors to us, but it didn’t start that way in their minds.

We are most fortunate to have couples on our board of directors at HomeWord who we would consider mentors as well. These are not people who have every aspect of their lives together. However, they are a bit older and wiser than we are and are open to sharing their lives with us. If you don’t have a mentor couple, I suggest you begin to talk about who might help motivate you to grow spiritually and through their lives show you how to be more effective in your marriage and family.

We also believe strongly in peer relationships. I meet with a group of four other men on Tuesday mornings, as well as every couple of months with a friend whom I respect greatly. We share the hard questions and challenge each other in our marriages, spiritual life, child-rearing, integrity, and being faithful in our calling. Cathy and I were in a couples’ group for several years, and even though each session wasn’t on marriage, it seemed like whatever we were studying in that group came back to our marriages and families. I learned much from how other couples approached their relationships. We often say that this particular group helped us raise our kids and taught us more about marriage than any book we have ever read.

Then how about mentoring a younger couple? Your church probably has a mentoring program for newlyweds or younger couples. It might be something as formal as going through a book together or as informal as sharing a few meals a year with a younger couple. I know for Cathy and me, when we are in conversation with another couple about our marriage, we are much more intentional about working our spiritual growth plan.

Other Ideas

As we looked at refreshing our marriage spiritually I mentioned that we all need a plan. When a couple is living with the same set of blueprints, they do so much better. The above ideas are a major part of Cathy’s and my plan. You will want to create your own. It has to work for you and for your situation. I know couples who have taken a five-hour solo/Sabbath time regularly to rest, pray, read inspirational literature, hike, and then come back together to talk about their experience. They do it almost every week. Sure it takes time, but by the looks of their marriage it is definitely worth the investment.