When Karoline suggested I co-author a blog with my husband Isaac about spiritual bonding in marriage, I was hesitant to agree. It didn’t take long for me to panic about whether or not Isaac and I have actually experienced spiritual bonding ourselves. It honestly wasn’t something we’d ever outright discussed. In fact, when talking about writing this blog, we had to decide what spiritual bonding means to us. First, we agreed that spiritual bonding is the process of two souls learning how to become spiritually one, the fusion of two lives into a single, God-honoring marriage. Then, we concluded that our marriage still has a long way to go, and we are among the least qualified to help others learn about the subject.
Isaac and I have only been married since April of 2019. If the Apostle Paul were to assess the spiritual maturity of our marriage the same way he might evaluate the progress of a new believer, even he wouldn’t be concerned that our shared spiritual bond is still feeding on metaphorical milk. We’ll be the first to admit that we have years of maturing ahead of us, but even less than a year into marriage, we can identify clear actions that have already formed our spiritual bond. Just as Paul instructed Timothy to live as an example of godliness, despite his limited years of experience, we also believe the humble amount of wisdom we have gained is worth sharing.
- Define and agree on your roles in the relationship.
Agreeing to have a relationship that adheres to the guidelines of Ephesians 5 is not a good enough strategy for a harmonious marriage union. It didn’t take us too many premarital books to figure that out. We spent many hours during our engagement wrestling with our individual definition of key words like leadership, submission, helper, and authority. A year later, the unity of our marriage is grateful for those conversations. Isaac and I knew each other’s perspective of the theology of marriage before we said, “I do,” and as a result, neither of us were caught off guard by the other’s expectations. We came into our marriage with a unified spiritual foundation, and it has made the development of our spiritual, physical, and mental unity much easier than it would have otherwise.
2. Participate in the work of the Church.
We became members of our church shortly before our wedding, but signing the church covenant had little impact on our spiritual bond. What has actually brought us closer together are Sunday mornings when we drag each other out of bed to serve with our church’s children’s ministry and communications team during the 8:15 service. In the four months of marriage prior to participating in ministry, we felt the strain the absence put on our relationship. We weren’t practicing servanthood outside of the home, and it made it harder to be servants to our spouse. Cutting corners in any aspect of the Christian life will always corrode a couple’s spiritual bond, and we almost learned that the hard way. Seeking to not merely participate but serve in the Christian community is paramount, no matter if you go to a megachurch, small fellowship or gather with Believers in your home.
3. Don’t let in dualism.
Dualism can be described as the unbiblical separation of “spiritual” things from physical things based on a false belief that physical things are in opposition to God. It can be tempting to fall into a mindself of dualism and think that spiritual bonding only happens during the parts of marriage that exclusively impact our spiritual health, such as prayer or Bible study. But Isaac and I have found that the most important part of our spiritual togetherness is that it isn’t any different than our “normal” togetherness. Whether we’re cleaning the kitchen together or playing Wii Sports (Yeah, we still do that. Don’t judge.), we trust that God is capable and willing to use any experience to teach us ways to strengthen our marital bond, if we allow Him. And because we’ve seen Him do so in unexpected places, we intentionally try to surrender every opportunity to His skilled hand.
It should go without saying that prayer is essential to a godly marriage, but not just any kind of praying habits will do. A marriage can only be as strong as the depth and consistency of a couple’s prayer life allows it to be. It’s been a gradual change, but over the months, we’ve learned how to pray for each other intimately: petitioning against our toughest temptations, searching for God’s desire for the ministry of our marriage, confessing sin, and expressing gratitude for the ways the Holy Spirit has been at work. No matter how long a couple dates before they tie the knot, the early stages of marriage are about getting to know your partner in new ways that are both exciting and challenging. Praying regularly and openly together every night before bed has proven to be the best method for getting to know each other’s soul, and the longer we’ve done it, the tighter our bond has become.
5. Read the Bible.
Three months before our wedding, we began a reading plan to take us through the Bible in one year, something neither of us had ever done before. Although we read the daily passages on our own time, going through the plan at the same pace created great opportunities for deep discussion. We shared about what God was speaking into our hearts as we read each chapter and helped each other dig into tough concepts and their implications those truths have on our lives. The countless conversations we had over the course of that year helped us develop shared spiritual roots as we journeyed together to discover the incredible joy and necessity of reading the Word of God cover to cover.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for developing a spiritual bond between a husband and wife, but Isaac and I do know that these things have proven helpful in the first leg of our journey. We pray it is helpful to others in whatever stage of marriage they may be.
This guest post was written by Isaac Miller and Savanna Mertz, two good friends of mine from college. I had the pleasure of watching their relationship grow from “just friends” to life partners and can attest that they practice their own advice. They are a wonderful and humble example to me of what it means to follow Christ as a couple. Happy 10 months of marriage and first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife, Isaac and Savanna! For more quality content from these two, I highly recommend starting with Isaac's awesome Twitter and Savanna's equally witty Twitter.