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If you ask my husband Ted why church is good for marriage, he’ll most likely quip, “I met my wife at church. That was good for my marriage.”
Wit aside, though, Ted takes being an active member of our local church seriously. So do I. In the decade since we first met, we’ve been purposeful as a couple to make regular church attendance, as well as active participation, a consistent part of our lives.
Well, primarily because Scripture encourages us to do so.
Just read through the book of Acts. Here Luke illustrates the beauty of believers living life together. Of fellow Jesus-lovers walking through the daily grind hand-in-hand as they learn, love, and live the gospel. Then, later in the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews instructs us, “And let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (10:24-25, ESV). We’re actually told not to neglect the kind of fellowship found in church.
And do you know what Ted and I have found over the years? Church really is good for our marriage. It’s benefited us and helped to strengthen our bond.
Before I tell you how church can be good for marriage, I want to stress that when I say “church,” I mean a healthy, life-giving body of believers. I realize that there are dysfunctional congregations out there. Ones that might not be so ideal for your marriage. Maybe some of you have attended them. But, there are also a lot of strong, healthy, life-giving ones. In most cases, I’ve found that you just have to seek them out.
So why is church good for my marriage and yours? Here are five things Ted and I have experienced.
1. Church Provides Shared Experiences
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A huge part of married life is shared experiences. Shared experiences come from doing the day-to-day of life together and making memories with one another in the process. For Ted and me, church offers another opportunity for this. We wake up together, get the kids ready together, drive together, sit together, worship together, drive home together, and sometimes eat lunch out together with our girls. When workweek jobs and responsibilities require we spend a lot of time apart, church brings us together.
2. Church Sparks Conversation
We all know that life is hectic. It takes effort to slow down and find time to have the deep conversations with each other. Here’s the thing: Church helps facilitate deep conversations. Whether it’s a message from one of our pastors or a study within our small group, time spent under gospel-centered teaching sparks conversation between Ted and me. It gets us talking deeper than the latest episode of House we watched on Netflix or whether the Spanish curriculum we’re teaching our daughters is working. It sparks conversations on what God is teaching us individually or an area we’re struggling with spiritually.
3. Church Provides Opportunities to Serve Together
The apostle Paul often wrote of and to those who partnered with him in sharing the gospel. Church offers couples the opportunity to partner together in sharing the gospel too. How? Through serving others. For example, Ted and I facilitate a small group as a couple. We have friends who volunteer in children’s ministry side-by-side, and others who lead the congregation in music together. As we work together for a shared purpose, I’ve found that we’re drawn closer to each other as well.
4. Church Offers Support and Accountability
When we experienced a miscarriage, members of our church community loved, comforted, and prayed for us. When Ted lost his job and our finances were tight, friends from church blessed us in tangible, practical ways. In each situation, friends from church encouraged and supported us as a couple, reminding us to keep our focus on Christ and stay strong in our love for one another. In my book, Team Us: Marriage Together, Ted shares, “The love of God is constant. It’s a rock; it doesn’t fluctuate. Ashleigh and I find that kind of comforting stability among His people, within His church. When jobs and hometowns and circles of friends change, we make it a priority to include ‘church’ as a common theme, one that provides equilibrium through the plot twists of life.”
5. Church Fosters Spiritual Unity
As Ted and I sit under gospel-centered teaching and actively discuss it, we stay on the same page spiritually. We find ourselves wrestling with theology together, and it further serves to unite us. We’re not the only ones who’ve found this to be true. One friend told me that “worshipping God together is a great way to keep both pairs of eyes looking in the same direction.” Another shared, “We’ve learned so much about patience, forgiveness, and being truly one by staying connected to a church.”
Your marriage may not have gotten its start in church like ours did, but I encourage you to make it a consistent part of your relationship now. Discover together the many other ways that church can indeed be good for marriage.
And, if you’ve already found church to be good for your marriage in ways I haven’t mentioned, share them in a comment below. I’d love to have you add Reason #6 and beyond to this list.
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Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together (Moody Publishers). As the founder and editor of Ungrind Webzine and a regular contributor at several popular blogs and websites, she loves to combine the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. To learn more, visit AshleighSlater.com. You can also find her on Facebook here or follow her on Twitter at @ashslater.