Sacred Marriage: How to Strengthen Your Marriage With God’s Presence

God's Presence

“Marriage can become a favorable funnel to direct God’s presence into your daily life.” ~ Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage

An Emotional Escalator

One tough day several months ago, Andy and I scattered disputes and disagreements around like kids strew Legos over the living room floor. It may have started when we debated the reasons our BUNN coffee pot wasn’t filling the carafe to the desired amount. (I’m not kidding.) Did it escalate over my attitude as I uploaded images for my blog? I don’t remember.

Sharp corners dug in with each step we took. We went to bed angry and didn’t sleep. Instead, we flung words and opinions in the dark.

I remember a quarrel from long ago when I rode my “emotional escalator.” In my mind, I stood in a glass elevator and watched my emotions climb higher and higher over the damage, recognizing that I didn’t care how escalated I became. Instead of hitting the stop button, I allowed myself to ride to the top. At the height of my anger, I didn’t say the two words that have the power to change everything.

But this time, I didn’t want to ride to the top.

Opening the Door

I decided to say those two words to Andy. I aborted the ride, opened the door by turning to him and said, “Let’s pray.”

He rolled away, his back becoming one more barrier.

He’s going to stay angry, I thought. I stared into the vastness of the dark. A few seconds of silence stretched. My hope thinned into his deep sigh. More silence.

I felt the mattress shift.

He rolled towards me, took my hand and said, “Ok.”

I don’t remember the whole prayer. What I do recall is that he took the initiative to go first. We lay facing each other, his breath warm on my cheek. I felt humbled as he prayed when moments ago, he was angry with me. My tears trickled to pool in my ear as I whispered my prayer to Him.

God’s Presence

God broke down the barriers we built that day and cleared a safe place for our footing. We rooted ourselves in a connection more powerful than we had sensed in years.

Andy and I felt God’s presence as He blessed our physical union by making our love feel like the first time we became one. It was as if God handed it to us with a nod of approval.

We interpreted the same message from God, “That’s how I want you to deal with your differences. Come to me.”

Without a doubt, we knew we were joined by something bigger than us—holier than us. His calming presence remained as we fell asleep.

An Open Invitation

That evening left me realizing how my marriage would improve if Andy and I invited God’s presence—even (and especially) during a dispute.

Moreover, what if we always seek God’s presence? What if we lived in constant awareness of God’s presence?

As a young girl, I watched my Pépère seek God’s presence in the solitude of his living room, Bible in hand. Years later, I also learned to experience God’s presence in my church community and relationships. Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Today, I see how the relationship of marriage is a way to draw closer to God.

The open invitation begins with communication—not only with my spouse, but also with God.

“Learning to communicate effectively is part of the process of becoming one.” ~ Gary Thomas

Speech and Silence

Communication is about what we say—and don’t say.

Imagine God spending the day in your home, witnessing your every action and conversation. You sit down to dinner and God sits at the table with you. He observes you withdraw from family conversation. Later, He walks in the living room with you and hears your short-tempered response to your spouse.

The thing is, God is always with us. Yet we forget His immediate presence and treat our spouses or kids in a way we would never treat them if guests were present.

Gary writes, “Our tongue invites God’s presence or pushes Him away. Every word spoken to a family member is either an invitation to the experience of the holy or to the experience of chaos.”

Gary also reminds us that the tongue can be cruel in two ways: by speaking evil and by refraining from speaking good.

Consider how harsh words or a malicious silent treatment pushes us into the chaos of the emotional escalator—and further away from God’s grounding presence.

Prayer and Listening

At times, I struggle with listening. I’ve caught myself interrupting while Andy is speaking, or become preoccupied with my thoughts while he’s trying to share his.

Just as God asked Adam, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9), sometimes I hear the same question from Andy when he can sense my inattention.

How can I be present with Andy if I’m not listening? In the same way, how can I experience God’s presence if I’m not aware of Him? Be quick to listen and slow to speak, James 1:19 tells us.

Even before we married, Andy and I prayed together. Through the words, we find unity and gain proper priorities. Now, we sometimes settle into silence after prayer, and press our ears to God’s voice.

In the listening, we give a part of ourselves—and our time, remembering that in the listening is the learning. There’s a lot God wants to share with us, if only we will listen.

Marriage With Presence

Gary shares this about the image of God in marriage:

Every night, I sleep with a God-mirror lying beside me.

The Bible teaches us that both men and women are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). Understanding this truth should remind us regularly of God’s presence, for it allows us to realize that our mate is helping us to complete a fuller picture of God’s nature and person.

Since we’re made in God’s image, doesn’t it make sense that we would see the image of God in each other and feel God’s presence in our marriages?

Gary and Betsy Ricucci say this: “A magnificent marriage begins not with knowing one another but with knowing God.”

In knowing God, I am learning more about my husband and the magnificence marriage has to offer.

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I’d love to hear from you. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave a comment.

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This ends the series on Sacred Marriage. Thank you for reading along. Thanks so much for participating in the conversations with your comments.

Throughout this series, I have shared personal accounts and highlighted some of Gary’s concepts. On Tuesday nights, four other couples gathered with Andy and me in our home to learn about Sacred Marriage. The enriching testimonies have led our church to plan a Sacred Marriage initiative in the fall. We are so excited about this!

If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to do so. Read it with your spouse and have conversation. It will change you and your marriage.

Feel free to leave comments on any of the posts at any time, as I will leave the comments feature open for future discussions. Any time is the perfect time to learn more about improving marriage.

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The open invitation begins with communication—not only with God, but also with my spouse. Click To Tweet Communication is about what we say—and don’t say. Click To Tweet Harsh words and silent treatments push us into chaos and further away from God's grounding… Click To Tweet In the listening is the learning. Click To Tweet Since we’re made in God’s image, doesn’t it make sense that we'd see the image of God in each… Click To Tweet

Click on any of the previous Scared Marriage posts:

Sacred Marriage Series: An Invitation

Part 1: Marriage: Confronting Our Selfishness

Part 2: One Way to Love Your Lover (Spouse)

Part 3: The Power of Respect Can Transform Your Marriage

Part 4: Exposing the Truth About Our Imperfections

Part 5: How to Practice Falling Forward in Your Marriage

Part 6: One Way to Help Your Marriage Be Better

Click on any of these resources:

Make Your Marriage Sacred 3/3

Make Your Marriage Sacred 2/3

A Lifelong Love: A quick video about marital love and an intro to Gary’s latest book, A Lifelong Love

Sacred Marriage Session 1 video

4 Comments

  • 1 year ago

    My take-away from this piece is where your husband rolled toward you, took your hand, and said, “Okay.” Despite differences and even disagreements, when both spouses are quickened to God’s leading, it makes so much difference — both feel safe enough to be vulnerable.

    Thanks for leading this discussion, Sharon. I hope to get this book.

    May God bless you as you shine His light!

    • Sharon A Gibbs
      1 year ago

      Darlene, Your take-away is simply beautiful. That moment was a turning point for us as we were blessed by our obedience. Quickened to God’s leading, I like that.

      As always, thanks for being part of this conversation.

  • 1 year ago

    Wow, I also loved this book, and I appreciate the in-depth treatment you’ve been giving it here in your space!

    • Sharon A Gibbs
      1 year ago

      Michele, Thank you! The book, and my writings about it, changed the way I think about marriage.

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