3 Reasons Doing “Devotions” with your spouse is difficult and 6 ways to help
Living a mutually beneficial life of devotion to Jesus as a couple is a beautiful thing to see. I’ve seen many couples do this and asked some of them how and if they do devotions together. Many do, and they enjoy the time of study together and if that is you, I’m excited for you! There are others though, that don’t find devotions as a couple to be quite that simple.
I was speaking to someone that has asked me to mentor him, he was describing how difficult it was for he and his wife to try and do devotions. By “devotions” I mean the formal kind, the ones that some Christians believe that they need to take part in if they want to be a “good Christian couple,” where you open a bible together and read it and study in unison, sharing your personal insights to the passage you are reading simultaneously.
He described frustration and anxiety in the midst of trying to study together. He found himself frustrated by her insights.
It turns out that my wife and I had a similar problem.
Many might suggest a need for practice or that there must be a spiritual disconnect. But I would argue that, that isn’t actually the case – at least not in the two situations I’m describing above.
Both couples love to go to church and discuss insights received from others speaking. We love to teach our kids things and bounce back and forth, sharing the opportunity and responsibility of answering hard spiritual question with our kids. We love Jesus and love seeing others fall in love with him, and in this case both couples are in ministry as well.
So what is happening? Why would devotions as a couple be so difficult?
Here are some potential reasons:
- It takes practice. Anything new takes practice and is uncomfortable at first, so yes it could be that you simply need to keep trying until you learn each other’s learning and teaching style.
- One or both of you may have a teaching gift. Asking a teacher to read a passage with the intention of finding insights and teaching it, and then subjecting them to someone else teaching them about the topic they are now passionate about, is bound to cause conflict. Honestly, I believe that this is the case for both of the above listed couples. I know it resonates with me. When I get passionate about teaching something, I want to share it. In fact, the act of sharing that insight with someone else is the culmination of my gift-set in that moment. Having to sit and listen to someone else’s thoughts obstructs that so it can make it hard to receive and increase frustration.
- Formal isn’t always necessary, or good. Maybe a sit-down devotional book isn’t the best fit for every couple. Doing things formally, although not bad, isn’t necessarily the best or most effective way to learn things. We hear all of the time that kids learn better when they get involved practically. Using their hands to engage in things like science projects for example. The lessons and impact is different when there is real life application. We also know and hear all of the time that learning things “organically” is deeply impacting as well. For example, when we are walking through a park and see a homeless man, we engage with the subjects of compassion and justice and interact with what the bible says with our kids, and the lesson permeates deeply into their soul. This is FAR more effective than discussing compassion and justice in a classroom. Yes, it’s hard to plan for these things because we have to be ready in the moment, so making sure you cover specific topics will be hard but is possibly not necessary, either way though the impact is far greater and more natural.
What can we do about it?
- Consider how you can engage in organic and practical conversations and mutual lessons as a couple when relating to scripture. Start paying attention to the world around you and make spiritual conversations a part of your daily life.
- Pray together. This can be awkward too, but practice and listen to your spouse’s heart as they express themselves to God.
- You may need to pray for a deeper longing and appreciation for His word.
- Try a different devotional book, maybe the ones you’ve tried weren’t a good fit for you as a couple.
- Consider taking turns teaching. Instead of mutually reading the same passage to both share insights, one of you comes into it with an attitude of receiving and listening instead of speaking and teaching.
- Consider that the word “devotion” is about a lifestyle, to live a life where all of your energy is invested in one direction, how does this reality change your approach to mutual devotion times together?
As you explore what being devoted together looks like, remember that it takes practice. You have been living life alone for a long time and adjusting to another person involved can be hard. Also remember that discomfort and frustration are normal as you move forward and continue exploring a life of devotion (both formally and/or informally) looks like together.
Finding a way to share what God is doing in your life individually with your spouse is VITAL to your growth and connection as a couple. If formal devotions are easy for you, consider expanding and adding to them. If they are more difficult, take the time to notice the faith connections you do have and appreciate them, and consider continuing to work hard to find a way to connect on a slightly more formal level as well. Fighting to connect spiritually is ALWAYS beneficial to your marriage.