I seriously love being in community with other Christians that are looking to work on their marriage and improve their intimacy. In fact, if I’m 100% honest, one of the things that I find most difficult about the role of a therapist, is that the confidentiality rules keep us from making some incredible connections between our clients. Obviously, confidentiality is an important piece of the therapy relationship. Unfortunately, it can also make couples believe, “we’re the only couple with sex struggles like this.”
Back when I was in grad school, all of the psychology students (like myself) had to take a few divinity courses. These courses were taught by a professor in the divinity department instead of a psychology professor. Well, one day when we were sitting in class, our theology professor expressed a complaint of his.
This is the opposite of Christian Community…
He said, “You therapists try to have this blank slate and not share any part of your story with others. I don’t believe this is helpful.”
I’m sure you can imagine how most of the students felt.
We NEED our confidential sessions. The session is about the client, not ME. And, while that’s not wrong, there is a little bit of a defect with this scenario. A therapist can literally work with multiple people with similar concerns and can know that these people would benefit from knowing one another, but nothing can be done about that.
There have been times when I have 2 or 3 couples with similar concerns. I tell them, “You’re not alone. Others struggle with this too.”
But, since I can’t introduce them to one another, the couples still feel pretty doggone alone in their struggles.
Well….I’ve got an answer to all of that.
What we really need is community support. We need other Christians standing with us in the good times and bad; encouraging us and reminding us of God’s faithfulness.
I’ve got a short video here that expresses some of the reasons I love community and why it’s important. It starts with the intimacy building tips I talked about recently and then explains the community aspect in more detail. You can watch it here. 👇
Prefer to read the transcript?
I know that sometimes you simply can’t listen to video, so I’ve got a cleaned up version of the transcript here. No major changes, just cleaned it up enough to make for an easier read. If you’ve read the article I referred to, you can skip down to the “Community” heading for the updated content.
👇Video Transcript Starting Here👇
Hey guys, Dr J. here from drmcleese.org. I want to give you some tips and ideas for building the intimacy in your christian marriage. Now, just as a disclaimer this is not going to be about sexual intimacy but instead about intimacy in general.
Stay tuned because in the future videos will be about building the sexual intimacy.
For now, I want to give you five tips for building your marital intimacy so that you can enjoy a richer marriage between the two of you.
So, tip number one is to play together. I’m going to be doing a video just on play next week so you’ll get to see that soon. For now, I want to encourage you to spend some time as a couple enjoying life together.
As adults, we forget what it’s like to just enjoy life and play and not take ourselves too seriously. I want to encourage you to find ways to do that with your spouse. This is a great opportunity for some date time together and just enjoying one another’s company.
It’s highly important to do that and much of the time we forget to play together the way we did when we were dating. I want to encourage you to go back to those fun times of dating.
Think of some of the things that you enjoyed doing and implement those strategies in your marriage now again. If you’re just not sure how to play together, stay tuned because next week I’ll give you some more examples of that.
Most couples find that they feel much more connected when they’re connecting on a spiritual level. I encourage you to talk with your spouse about this. Ask your spouse about their deeper struggles or maybe the places where they’re trying to hear from the Lord. Lean into those moments by actually praying with your spouse.
In addition to praying with your spouse, I also think it’s wonderful to pray for your spouse.
It’s good to make sure that daily or at least weekly you’re offering up some prayers for your spouse. Pray that God will grow your spouse and love on your spouse and just really show up for them.
If you’re not comfortable, maybe try to grow in this area. At least every once in a while actually speak your prayers out loud so your spouse can hear them. It can mean a great deal for couples to know that their spouse is actually spending time in prayer for them. So, I encourage you to do that.
When I say work together, I specifically mean household chores and duties and things that must be done in your home. Talk with one another about how you can do that as a couple. Talk about how you can come together to get tasks done.
When couples are surveyed about household chores, both people will typically say, “I do the majority of the housework.” Clearly, that can’t happen when we look at actual statistics. Somebody really does more housework, or you guys both do the same amount. The tension comes in when one person feels like they do the majority of the work.
I encourage you to have a conversation with your spouse and find out:
- are we on the same page here
- are we working together to get these tasks completed
- and what actually needs to be done?
It might also give you a moment to decide what maybe doesn’t actually need to be done and can be let go so that you can spend time together doing the play or the pray together. So, talk to each other about how to tackle those household duties so you can effectively work together.
Recall Happy Moments Together:
Alright, here’s number four: recall past happy moments that you’ve had. Couples that can think back on positive experiences with one another feel happier in their relationship. If you’re looking to build your connection and build that intimacy with one another, I encourage you to think about what are some of the happy moments we’ve had together. Even better, recreate some of those if you can. Maybe you remember having seen a movie at a drive-in theater while you were dating. You can try to recreate that moment and find another drive-in theater where you can enjoy some of those first date experiences. Think of happy moments and try to implement them again in your marriage now.
Engage in a Hobby Together:
And then number five, start a new hobby together. Another way that you can build your intimacy is for you guys to decide to do an activity together that one of you already knows you enjoy, or that both of you might enjoy.
I encourage you to find ways to just enjoy doing life with one another; look for a new hobby that you both enjoy. And, iff you’re thinking, “I have no idea what I enjoy'” that’s okay. Try using Groupon or a similar coupon-type service as a way to see what kind of activities and events are going on in your area. You may just find something that you both want to keep doing. Explore what’s going on in your world, especially if you’re seeing this video when it’s being released during the summer time. You can probably find summer events you can do really cheaply or even do for free.
Let’s talk community!
Now I want to give you kind of a bonus way to build the intimacy in your relationship, specifically because I’ve started a new community group. I absolutely believe that community is one of the top ways that we can build relationship with one another and with our spouse. There’s something about Christian community that can help us to just do life a lot better. This includes our marriage relationship.
Many years ago I actually had a supervisor tell me back when I was studying counseling, that one of the best ways for couples to maintain relationship, to grow and mature, and to have success during the counseling process is to have a strong support system. We can do that with community!
You Don’t Have to Be in Deep Pain to Seek Out Community
You don’t have to be in a place of deep sorrow, pain, or hurt to get encouragement, growth, and maturity from a community group. We need community in general. The pandemic has been horrible in multiple ways; the deaths and the sickness for sure, but another horrible piece was the isolation that many of us experienced. Research has shown that anxiety and depression have gotten much worse since the pandemic. This is almost certainly because of that lack of community with one another.
Galatians 6:2 reminds us that we can bear one another’s burdens and in doing that we fulfill the law of Christ. Part of really leaning into those things that Christ exemplified for us is having that community support, loving one another, and having compassion for one another. Within the community group, that happens very well. I fully believe that Christians should be doing this very well.
Hebrews 10:24 reminds us that we spur one another on toward good deeds. One of the reasons I love when couples are in community with other strong Christian couples is because we find this encouragement with one another. You hear of one couple going on a date or going on a vacation and it just kind of encourages you to do the same. As we talk about the things that are going well, we actually build one another up. This also means that we encourage one another toward these good healthy marriage behaviors.
There are multiple scriptures about joining one another and working with one another in unity. But the last one I’m going to share is from Romans 12 and it’s in verses 4 through 5. Paul is teaching about the body. He says there are many parts but one function and that we all work together. No one part is better than any other part. When you have strong Christian community, you’re actually living that part out. You’re all learning how to really just do life together and how to see that every one of us are important. It gives us an ability to have compassion for one another and to help one another out. The things that I’m strong in, I can help others with. The things that I’m weak in, others can help me with. This is why community is so important.
Brene Brown is well known for talking about vulnerability. She teaches that it strengthens us and can help us learn to have deep relationships. The only way to actually practice vulnerability is with another human being. We do that by sharing our hopes, goals, and pain points. We also do this by supporting one another in this journey that we call life or this journey we call marriage.
Community can actually, in fact, grow your affection for one another and grow your affection for Christ. This is why I think community is so important. But one of the other fun factors is that we can actually get great date ideas from one another and can implement those in our own marriages. For instance, I recently asked a question about dates within the group that I’m running. One of the guys there gave some really cool date ideas – one of which I hadn’t thought of before. He suggested going to a Shakespeare in the park event. He said that these events are run all of the time through many cities in our world. Community gives you an opportunity to learn, “how can I maybe see date nights in different ways than I have before.” That adds some creativity and fun within your relationship.
Okay the last reason I’m sharing right now:
Community is so important is because it gives us accountability, so we mature and we grow when we’re together. All of us can have struggles in our marriage. It doesn’t it doesn’t matter who you are, what your level of education is, how long you’ve been married. All of us can have struggles in certain seasons of our marriage. Our struggles may be from internal factors (something going on in us or going on in the relationship). Or, it may be due to external factors going on with family or different things in our world. There are several stresses so many of us are under now.
Community helps us feel like we’re not alone in this and that we have other people supporting us. Now obviously I’ve talked about community a lot because it’s so important to my heart. I want to encourage you, if you’ve been looking for some Christian community to support you, check out your church, check out your neighbors, maybe you have friends that you can start talking to. Also, if you’re looking for support you can check out the group that I have.
We’d love to have you be a part of our group. The group is called Better Than The Honeymoon. You can click on that link and check out all the information you need to know about it.
Spend time this week making sure that you’re growing the intimacy in your marriage so that you can be connected and you can feel like you really are one with your spouse.
Until next time, God bless you, your marriage, and your intimacy.