Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Peter and Heather Larson’s and David and Claudia Arp’s new book 10 Great Dates: Connecting Faith, Love & Marriage (Bethany House Publishers, 2013).

Have you ever tried to pray or discuss the Bible together as a couple, only to give up after a short time because you and your spouse got distracted or frustrated? Connecting spiritually with your spouse can be challenging, with so many other pursuits vying for attention in your busy schedules. But it’s always worthwhile to make the effort to connect on a spiritual level, because that’s the part of your relationship that will last forever.

A great way to build a stronger spiritual connection with your spouse is by designing dates around that purpose. Here’s how you can connect with your spouse spiritually through dates:

Extend grace to each other. Just as God gives grace to you, be graceful with your spouse, giving the freedom to learn and grow spiritually in the ways that come most naturally to your spouse. Be positive and patient with your spouse, encouraging him or her to enjoy the process of growing closer to God with you.

Schedule your dates and set ground rules for them. Get each one of your 10 upcoming dates on the calendar and plan how to interact with each other during the dates so that both of you feel safe talking with each other openly about deep thoughts and feelings. Set ground rules such as: staying positive, focusing on what your relationship to be like in the future, talking mainly about your relationship and avoiding distractions by saving other topics (such as your jobs or your children) for other times, participating enthusiastically, refraining from forcing discussions when they get stuck, being honest yet still kind to each other, resisting attacking your spouse or defending yourself, and aiming to have fun while growing spiritually.

Connect faith and love. On this first date, you and your spouse will talk about each of your spiritual journeys up until this point, as well as how you want to continue your journey together as a couple. Enjoy a leisurely dinner together, and over the meal, tell each other the stories of how God has worked in your life individually. Then discuss how you all would like to pursue closer relationships with God together from this point on.

Appreciate your differences. On this second date, you all will learn how to appreciate the God-given differences between you and learn how to use those differences to complement each other. Talk about some specific God-given gifts that you recognize in each other, and encourage each other to put those gifts to use in practical ways as a team, so your different strengths will work together to accomplish more than either of you could alone.

Experience God together. On this third date, you’ll figure out where and when you each feel closest to God and what factors can best bring you together spiritually as you worship God together. Discuss where and when each of you feel closest to God – such as in nature, in church, in solitude, or in prayer. Then suggest new ways you all can try to pursue God together. Next, discuss each other’s core beliefs – about such topics as God, life, death, marriage, family, forgiveness, pain, and hope. Identify the spiritual values that you both share.

Get into the Bible. On this fourth date, you’ll learn how you can read and study the Word of God together successfully. Talk honestly about any previous attempts at studying the Bible together that have left either of you feeling coerced, frustrated, or dissatisfied. Then make a fresh plan for how to do so in a mutually enjoyable way. Find the best time of day or night to read the Bible together on a regular basis, choose a Bible with a commentary or application that’s relevant to both of you, and ask four key questions: “What does this passage say?” “What does this passage mean?” “What does this passage teach about God?” and “How do I apply this to myself?”