Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Are there times in your marriage where you feel God calling you in a new direction, but your spouse just can’t seem to hear the same call? When that happens in a marriage, things can come to an abrupt spiritual halt. What do you do now? How will you move forward without being unified? Spiritual unity can be hard to come by in marriage. Unless you know how to go about looking for it.
Beginning Our Journey to Spiritual Unity
“We’re going to do this.”
“Really?” I asked him in excitement and shock.
I’d prayed to hear those words for years and years. When my husband wrapped his arms around me and timidly whispered those words, it felt a decade overdue. Yet somehow, right on time.
When I closed the refrigerator door and turned around to wrap a hug around his neck I could see a few distinct things in his eyes—a good bit of fear, a lot of faith, a measure of uncertainty, and a decided abundance of trust.
After all, the Lord had chosen to give me the vision and instruction for 5th Wheel Missions when I was single and in college, over 10 years prior. The Lord had made it clear He desired a season of life lived fully mobilized on mission for the Gospel. We would own no stationary home and instead following His Spirit by cloud and by fire in an RV. The Lord had shown me how He would bless the obedience, in big ways and in small.
But He hadn’t fully revealed those things to Jeremiah.
Waiting on Full Spiritual Agreement
Because though the Lord never stopped reminding me about His instruction, Jeremiah and I were never in full agreement. So we met, married, had four children, bought a home, and built a life.
Perhaps, we were never unified in the depth of trust needed to believe that what one spouse had heard from the Lord was definite enough to take action. To sell a home, give away our possessions, and throw our four young kids into a 5th wheel RV when neither of us had ever RV’d a day in our lives.
But in that moment, on the backend of days spent in prayer and fasting, something had shifted. And a decision in our marriage to take a leap of faith in unity and spiritual intimacy took place. Not without some fear. Not without some questions. And not without some uncertainty. It came from a decided abundance of trust.
Trusting the Lord is one thing. Trusting your spouse as they trust the Lord feels like another. What if you haven’t received the word? What if you aren’t the carrier of the revelation? What if your faith isn’t at the same measure of your significant other’s on a matter?
The work of the Gospel is to bring oneness and unity between us and Christ. And marriage is meant to reflect that, bringing a husband and wife into oneness and unity as they navigate life.
Can we only achieve unity if we have complete agreement on all matters? Or is true unity achieved when there is complete trust?
Biblical Examples of Following God in Marriage
There was a time in my life, early in marriage, where I fostered an unhealthy understanding of godly unity. I thought it meant agreement on all matters, likeness in perspective and thoughts, and continuity in our feelings and reactions to things. This went for everything. After all, if we didn’t agree on something, especially significant somethings, didn’t that imply there was a problem? Wouldn’t that mean we were unequally yoked?
It wasn’t until I had a handful of years of marriage under my belt that I began to reflect on a reality familiar to most couples — there were plenty of moments where one of us believed we should take a certain step or make a certain decision and the other did not. Those moments were numerous, dare I say rhythmic, yet equally frustrating every time they popped up.
I suppose that’s why I was comforted to discover in the Word that there were many examples of married couples who were not on the same page about what should be done as they journeyed in faith. Think of:
- Joseph and Mary before the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to bring clarity
- Abraham and Sarah as he obeyed the Lord concerning Isaac without even consulting her
- Job and his wife as they differed in how to respond to affliction and tragedy
I found story after story that exhibited narratives of spouses in conflict. And while each of these stories taught unique lessons to this point, they all shared a common thread in that at least one person in the marriage was willing to obey the Lord.
Abigail and the Shunammite Woman
Abigail made sure to honor the man of God, David. She did this even when her husband Nabal had arrogantly denied the king’s requests. And the Shunammite woman adamantly journeyed to retrieve Elisha even when her husband didn’t understand her timing and insistence. He also lacked the same measure of supernatural faith to believe for a resurrection story.
In these two instances it is exceedingly evident that there are examples in the Word of God in which the Lord moves in one spouse without identically moving in the other. There is divide, differing measures of faith, different perspectives on what should be done, and different attitudes, even, towards the things of God. There was not “agreement,” yet the outcomes of these stories teach us two clear things:
- In the case of Abigail and Nabal: that a lack of humility and trust can bring division and even God’s judgement.
- And in the case of the Shunammite woman and her husband: that the presence of love and trust can yield blessing, restoration, and even resurrection to a family.
Abigail’s husband, Nabal, carried pride, arrogance and hardness of heart that ultimately lead to his judgement and death. While Abigail, who was faithful, found favor with the king.
The Shunammite woman’s husband, on the other hand, did not hinder his wife from journeying to Elisha despite his own confusion and limited faith to believe. As a result, he received the miraculous resurrection of his son and continued blessings upon his household later in the text.
In both of these examples, the spouse who believed and obeyed received blessing. But the inheritance for the husbands varied. While the women followed God, they did not have spiritual unity in their marriages.
Is There a Better Way for MY Marriage?
As I weighed these narratives, I began to ask the Lord about my situation. The Word makes clear that there are going to be times where spouses do not agree on a matter. There is Biblical ground for the believing spouse to move in obedience even if the other is not on the same page. But, God, what is the key to both moving forward in true unity under Your grace?
His answer was simple — trust! If we will commit to growing in trust with one another, there will be unity in the Spirit that will allow the will of God to prevail. This will occur even if one spouse does not have full and complete understanding or clarity.
We might not always agree or see eye to eye on a matter or even have the same measure of faith at different times. But if we trust one another, we will find our marriage blessed.
Focus on Marriage Getaway
Building Spiritual Unity in Marriage
So how can we grow in trust with our spouse? How can we practically ensure we are walking in obedience to the Lord as a unified couple?
Follow the Lord
It is important that both spouses walk in fear, reverence, and honor of the Lord. An intimate and personal relationship with Jesus marked by communion with the Holy Spirit is so important.
Nabal did not honor the man of God, nor care to respect the Lord’s anointed. The Shunammite’s husband, on the other hand, may have been more logical and had lesser faith for the supernatural, but he still recognized the One True God.
It is so important that both spouses fear and love the Lord. If you are in a marriage in which your spouse is not walking under the Lordship of Jesus, commit to fasting, praying, and petitioning the heart of God on their behalf. Your intercession can move mountains in Jesus’ name.
Trust between partners is also built by cultivating lives of faithfulness over time—in the little ways and the big ways. If we are hopeful our spouse will agree with us on a decision that requires tremendous faith, sacrifice, and trust, then it helps if that is preceded by your lived example of faith and obedience in the small things.
And then there are big things your marriage needs in order to cultivate spiritual unity. The framework our larger leaps must be built on is:
- Consistency in seeking the Lord
- Trusting the Lord
- Being sanctified and transformed by His Spirit
- Leading the family culture in prayer and faith
Remember, the Shunammite woman had first lived a life of generosity, hospitality, and honor. She had fed Elisha, built a room onto her home to host him, and listened to him faithfully before when she received the miracle of her pregnancy.
Believing God could work through Elisha to resurrect her son after his death was not out-of-the-blue. Her husband knew she was a faithful woman of God. Her faithfulness and honor in the small ways built trust when her God-sized faith was imperative to the blessing of their family in a big way.
Build Your Foundation on the Word
Allow the Word of God to be the foundation of your prayers, your words to one another, your treatment of one another, and your guidance in times of tension and discord.
Be personally transformed by the washing of the Word and also pray for your spouse, your marriage, your family, and your future in accordance with the Word. Seek understanding, insight, instruction, and council from the Word of God and trust the Spirit of God will give revelation and understanding. Here are some ways you can practically seek spiritual unity with your spouse:
- Read and study the Word of God together with your spouse.
- Share conversation about stories and passages.
- Grow in learning how the other digests the Word and relates to the Lord.
- Ask one another questions.
- Be slow to speak and quick to listen.
- Saturate your marriage in the Word, because the Word does not return void.
Spiritual Unity in Marriage Is Not Easy
There are going to be many times in our walk of faith that we feel conflicted about following God’s guidance. But God still calls us to trust Him and obey. This is how our flesh comes in subjugation to the Spirit, and the Spirit of God prevails as our Master.
Lives of true faith in Christ are marked by trust often preceding complete understanding and agreement. A healthy foundation of trust in Him nurtures understanding and transforms us into His likeness over time.
Maybe an echo of that Gospel glory is meant to be displayed in our marriages when we learn to love, trust, and honor our spouse in the same way we love, trust, and honor the Lord. When we trust the one who received revelation or vision, even when we may not fully understand, God will bless our households. And He will strengthen our spiritual unity in marriage as we trust Him to lead us in the way that we should go.
Unity may not be synonymous with ease. And it may not always look like agreement. But you can cultivate true unity and spiritual intimacy in your marriage with a decided abundance of trust.