5 Actions Couples Can Take to Start Studying God’s Word Together
by Katie Orr
My husband and I don’t study the Bible together. Yep, you heard me right. He’s a pastor and I’m a Bible teacher and we write Bible studies together, but we don’t study the Bible together. That is, we probably don’t study the Bible together the way you think we do. When I first started dreaming about being married to Chris, I had grand visions of us getting up at 6 AM to study the Bible and pray together. Yeah . . . that never happened. And I was pretty disappointed. In me. In him. In us. Don’t all good Christian couples get up early to read the Bible together?
For a long time, I held onto a tangled mess of unrealistic expectations which lead to a bundle of burdens our young marriage wasn’t prepared for. I felt like a failure, and I transferred those feelings into disappointment with Chris. He’s the spiritual leader, right? Isn’t this all his job anyway? It must be his fault then, not mine. (I’m pretty good at blame-shifting.)
Honestly, I don’t feel as if we’ve ever quite figured it out. I still have big goals for our marriage and family, most of which are completely unreasonable for this stage of life, and for our individual personalities. It’s in my bones to figure out the best way to do things. But when I let go of my idealism and hold onto a few realistic practices we can enjoy, there is a joy and intimacy that we experience around God’s Word.
I’m tempted to give you a list of lofty goals for how to study the Bible together, or even share the few things that work for me and Chris. I love a good checklist. But those checklists can become burdens, especially if we ignore the heart-work that needs to be done before we work on our external actions. Instead, I want to give you a few soul-level steps to consider. Getting in the Word and staying in it takes work. But before we hit the ground running, there are a few important preparations we can make that will lead us in the right direction.
Before we start pushing for change in our marriage, we need to declare our need for the only One who can bring about that change. It’s God’s heart for us to experience intimacy as a couple through the Word, yet our sin gets in the way. We’re all on a journey, and oftentimes we might find ourselves in a different spiritual place than our spouse. Instead of focusing on everything you and/or your spouse is not, turn that mental energy in to prayers. Ask God to do the work that only He can do—in both your hearts—then look ahead in anticipation for how He is going to answer those prayers in His perfect timing.
Manage your expectations.
Bible study is an area often filled with expectations and ideals . . . and subsequent feelings of failure. Whether we realize it or not, we all approach God’s Word with a list of “shoulds” that—if we let them—will paralyze us. Insert these expectations and emotions into a marriage, and it can spell disaster. We must be careful not to let our good desires to be in the Word together become an opportunity for division. It was a really healthy thing when I let go of the notion that we are supposed to sit down in front of the Bible daily for this area of our marriage to be meaningful. Studying the Bible is going to look different for every couple. For us, it is fairly casual. We talk about what we are studying. We discuss the sermon after church over lunch as a family. When I encounter a passage I’m not sure about, I ask Chris about it. There is intimacy found in the figuring it out together.
Get on the same page.
Communication is key. We know this, but it can be difficult. Our busy schedules and demands of everyday life often keep Chris and I from connecting the way we want. I’m the queen of assuming he can read my mind, and before I know it, there is a rift between us simply because we haven’t taken the time to talk. If you want to study the Bible together, tell your spouse about it! Chat through what that might look like, realistically. And LISTEN to their ideas about how to go about it. Come up with a plan you are both comfortable with.
Don’t underestimate the power of a quick win. If this is a new adventure for you, start with a short reading plan. There are free apps out there that have 7-day Bible reading plans. You might read them aloud to one another or read independently and spend a few minutes each night chatting about what you’ve been learning. After you’ve completed several small reading plans, consider moving to a short 4- or 6-week Bible study. If you are involved in a Sunday school class or small group, do the weekly work found in that curriculum. Establish places in your weekly rhythms to discuss what stood out to you or what you didn’t understand.
Take ownership for your own spiritual growth.
We each need time in the Word. It brings life to our soul, nourishment to our spiritual life and intimacy with our God. If your spouse stops reading, keep going! When life gets in the way (it always does) and you miss a few days, get back on track—regardless of what your spouse is or is not doing.
Chris and I don’t have all this figured out perfectly, but I do know that God is working; He’s working in me and He’s working in Chris. He’s working in you and your spouse, too. Let’s simply take steps toward the Word, and watch our obedience fuel His work.
Katie Orr, creator of the FOCUSed15 Bible study method, is passionate about equipping busy women to experience God daily. An enthusiastic and dedicated teacher and speaker, she is a podcaster and prolific writer for blogs, magazines and Sunday School curriculum. A former Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) staff member and mother to three young children, she and pastor-husband, Chris, serve together in the local church. Head to her website, katieorr.me, to learn more about Katie and how you can enjoy deep Bible study in as little as 15 minutes a day.
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