I reached across the bed and squeezed my husband’s hand.
“We’ll get through this, babe,” he said. “Let’s pray and ask God for help.”
Looking back, I honestly don’t remember what was troubling me that early morning. I just remember that I’d come into the bedroom a few minutes before with tears on my cheeks and a heart full of frustration and anger… and I’d been so relieved to see my husband waiting for me in our bed, ready to meet me for our morning devotion time.
In that moment (and on almost a daily basis), I find myself grateful that my husband and I make morning Bible time a priority—despite his demanding travel schedule and my very full life as a homeschooling mom of four.
It hasn’t always been this way, however. In fact, for most of our 13 years of marriage, our times together in the Word have been sporadic and, honestly, lacking depth.
Of course we’d heard about the benefits of habitually reading the Word together. But we had no idea where to start. And we certainly had no clue how to make it a regular part of our routine (we’d tried and failed repeatedly).
After a while I think we just gave up trying, believing that a regular devotional time together was a “someday” item: you know, someday when the kids were gone and we “weren’t so busy.”
We surmised that morning devotionals were for those old married couples that woke up to an empty, quiet house each morning. Couples who went longer than 5 minutes before having to settle a dispute, change a diaper, answer a business phone call, grab someone a drink, or drive someone else to basketball practice.
Was it possible for every couple to have this regular time of spiritual intimacy—even those wading through the exhilarating-but-exhausting parenting and career-building years?
After enduring some difficult trials, we finally saw that a daily devotional time together wasn’t a luxury item but a critical investment in ourselves, in our marriage, and in our walk with God. And as our kids got older (and parenting got trickier) we saw an even greater need for daily prayer and centering around God’s Word.
That’s when we finally concluded that yes, God intends for every marriage in every stage to enjoy this kind of spiritual intimacy.
In fact, we realized that those caught up in the demands of parenting and career needed this soul-enriching couple time perhaps most of all.
However, the million-dollar question remained: How in the world could a busy couple like us stretch their already packed schedules to cultivate the habit of couples devotions?
Here’s the (rather unglamorous) truth we discovered: Couples have to truly want this practice and that means they need to fight (on a daily basis) to keep it a priority.
I’m guessing that’s not news to you. At least it wasn’t to us.
However, we noticed that our Bible time together became habitual (and powerful) when we finally said—with humble, teachable hearts—“Jesus, we know you want us to be spending time with you together on a daily basis. Show us how to do this within our crazy life.”
This meant that we didn’t commit ourselves to following a strict regimen. Or to never missing a day. Or to doing it only at a specific time of day. We’ve kept it open and yet still kept it a priority, continually asking God for wisdom on how to make each day work.
So what I’m about to share with you aren’t fixed rules and regulations. They’re not “musts” or “shoulds.”
They are simply guidelines my husband and I have learned on our way to building this important habit. We pray that these ideas might make regular devotional times a reality for you and your spouse, too.
11 Ways to Make Couples Devotions A Habit
Forgive Yourself and/or Your Spouse. Maybe your Bible times together have been hit-or-miss…or simply non-existent. If either of these is true, there may be all kinds of guilt and shame built up around this issue. Talk openly with each other, and pledge to start together from a new fresh place.
Let the Evidence Spur You On. Some statistics report that couples that regularly pray and do devotionals together have a one in 10,000 chance in divorcing, as compared to the normal divorce rate which is at least one in two. That’s staggering! In addition, God’s Word confirms the incredible benefits of simply coming together to call on Him (Isaiah 30:15-22, James 5:16, Ecc. 4:9-12).
Make a Plan, and Make It Happen. What are some typical open times in the day for both of you? You may need to get up earlier. Your spouse may need to rearrange part of his/her day. You may have to say no to something else. The goal here is not to create the perfect timeslot, but to keep things loose around certain “opportunity points” of a given day. With that in mind…
Consider the Morning. We love the morning time because the house is quiet (usually) and it’s wonderful to connect spiritually before starting our individual daily commitments. We may need to get up early, but time is more open and we find that Bible time together actually gets done.
Come Up with a General Routine or Action Plan for This Season. Sometimes we’ve read a chapter of Proverbs each day and then prayed. Other times we’ve gone through a devotional and then looked up additional verses. There’s no right or wrong answers here as long as God’s Word and prayer play a major part of the time.
Shut the Door. This is a practical—but helpful—one. Our kids know that we aren’t to be disturbed when the door is shut. This also models for our kids that time together in the Word is a private and important part of marriage. But more importantly, closing the door keeps us focused on each other and on God during this time.
Be Realistic. Maybe it’s an especially tough season and three days a week is all you can commit to as a couple right now. Great! Three days a week is better than no days a week. Just make it happen.
Be Flexible with the “When” and “How.” Our schedules are continually in flux (especially if he’s traveling) and we’re in constant communication about how to make our devotional times work for the week. For example, my husband had a very early flight yesterday morning and was traveling all day so we didn’t have our devotions until 9:30 last night (and I read the devotional to him over the phone while we both looked up Bible verses and then prayed). We just make it work for each other.
Be Full of Grace. Despite your planning and best efforts, there will be days that devotions just won’t happen. We get sick. Emergencies happen. Or we just plain forget (oops!). The point is, if you skip a day (or two, or five), forgive yourselves and re-start the habit.
Keep Going and Trust the Bigger Picture. Not every devotional time may be filled with incredible insights and amazing growth. However, we must trust the unseen work! Amazing bonds are being built between you and your spouse. God’s Word is filling your hearts and changing you little by little into His likeness. Believe that good things are still happening—even on the days that seem mediocre.
Commit to a Month. Try it for 30 days and experience the benefits firsthand. Once my husband and I had enjoyed a regular devotional time together we were that much more compelled to keep up the habit. It became less of a chore and more of a delight.
How have couples devotions changed your marriage? What tips have you discovered for making them a regular part of your family’s routine?
Read more from the series here…
Alicia Michelle is the founder of YourVibrantFamily.com and a homeschool mom to four bright, curious students. Her passion is to encourage and equip moms to joyfully thrive in the often-challenging homeschooling season. She is the author of Plan to Be Flexible: Designing A Homeschool Rhythm and Curriculum Plan That Works for Your Family and The 5 Best-Kept Secrets of Successful Homeschoolers (a free resource for site subscribers). Alicia also writes and produces online video courses for homeschooling moms (“bloom” and “rhythm”) that give practical instruction and customized learning. Check out these and other valuable resources at VibrantHomeschooling.com.