By Shauna Maylin
This post is part of a 10-part series celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, specifically the sentence, “”Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
Like many, my husband and I take turns saying the prayer each night. I love it when it’s his turn to say it, not because I don’t want to pray, but because there’s nothing more tender than hearing your spouse talk to God. And also because I’m interested to hear what he will say that night. He always says something that I’m happy or grateful to hear or that I needed to hear. I’ve noticed through the years that where we lack in communication with each other, we help make up through prayer. Let me share 4 ways that I feel we bridge the gaps in our communication through praying together:
Often times in prayer we express gratitude for things we don’t necessarily say to each other in person. Now I’m sure we express gratitude from time to time but probably not as often as we should. How many days do we go without saying to our spouse, “Thank you for all that you do. I know you work really hard. And I notice the hard work that you put in and appreciate all that you do for me…. for us, for our children.”
My hope is words like these are said from time to time, but in prayer they are relayed much more often. When we kneel in prayer, our focus is on reflection and we actually quiet the noise (or try) as we express our gratitude, joys, love, needs… etc. So although we may rarely show enough gratitude to our spouse on a day to day basis, somehow we almost never forget to add our deep gratitude for these things in our prayers. The other night as I heard my husband give thanks for me and my efforts I was overjoyed. All of us have days that are difficult, mundane, tedious, demanding, long, and too many efforts go unnoticed. But when I heard my husband speak those words of gratitude for me, I felt noticed! And I felt praised! I felt that every single effort of that day, week or maybe even month was now worth it. They were simple words, but they were heartfelt and they touched me!
My heart also melts as my husband expresses gratitude for our relationship, the closeness that we share, and the fact that we have each other to lean on as we go through all the ups and downs of this life. I never cease to feel incredibly honored that I am a reason that someone is giving thanks to God, especially my husband!
I’m not just happy to hear him express gratitude for me. I love that together we take a moment to reflect on the many blessings we’ve been given. Often my husband will say things that I forget to mention in my own prayers and I realize that I take so much more for granted than I could ever realize. This portion of the prayer is so important because as we pray, we grow together, we realize all that we have, and we grow to become more gracious people day by day.
At the end of the day isn’t it just so great to have a bit of time together? To finally turn to your spouse and sigh, like another stressful day is now in the books. If you’re like most people, chances are the day was filled with jobs, responsibilities, and a to-do list a mile long, not to mention a lot of noise. That time at night becomes all the more cherished because that prayer very well may be the only real quiet moments you’ve been able to share together all day.
There is an immeasurable amount of closeness that we can achieve when finishing the evening by taking one another’s hands, kneeling down and talking to our Father in Heaven. Prayer becomes a reflection of the day, of our blessings, and of our lives that otherwise may not be had on a daily basis. With the hustle and bustle of life, it’s not too far fetched to think that some days kneeling to pray may very well be the closest, proximity wise, you’ve been with your spouse all day. So when we pray together we not only can bridge communication gaps but spatial gaps as well.
Besides the rare deep spiritual discussions we have with each other, this is really one of the only ways we connect frequently on a spiritual level. Nothing can quite beat out the closeness that is achieved while coming together on both a spiritual and physical plane.
3. We can realize how to better serve our spouse as they share their needs with God
We all try to communicate with each other the best we can, right? But there is always room for improvement, especially when expressing our personal needs. This may be a long shot for some or a rarity for sure but from time to time my husband will ask for help in areas that he is struggling with, striving to do better at, or is just in need of burdens being lightened and stresses relieved. I love when he includes these things in our prayers together because it is just one more way of filling in the gaps of our communication. If we missed communicating these things in the past we are now made aware of them and can be of service. We can become a tool in the Lord’s hands to come to our spouse’s aid and be a part of the answers to their prayers!
We most likely will not be able to give our spouse what they need. We cannot relieve burdens or responsibilities at work, school, or otherwise, nor can we go through a personal struggle for them, but we indeed can help. We can provide support, unconditional love, and service as they go through hard times.
These are the times that I get excited about because I can surprise my spouse with a much needed night out, a spotless house, a candlelit dinner, a thoughtful gift…etc. When we are aware of our spouse’s struggles we can put in the extra work to ensure that we lighten their burdens as much as possible. We can also give words of encouragement throughout the day and be a little more present and aware of what they may be going through at any given moment.
This is just one more reason why we should pray together daily. If we forgo praying together regularly we may never fully realize the needs of our spouse.
4. You hear their heartfelt consideration for your needs
Your spouse’s concern for you may never actually be articulated until the moment you are on your knees. These are tender moments when you get to hear your spouse plead to the Father for your needs.
Maybe you are eager for your spouse to be sensitive to your needs or empathize with you on something that you are going through. We can never fully know exactly how our spouse is feeling, because we are not them, but I think we all wish that we could show our spouses what it’s like to “(fill in the blank).” For me, I’d like my husband to know and understand the struggles that go along with being at home with three kids ages 3 and under all day, every day. And for my husband, I’m sure he’d want me to realize just how stressful his job really is and all the demands that fall upon his shoulders each and every day. Those are just two examples. I’m sure we could name a billion… like: I wish my spouse could know what it’s like to struggle with depression, anxiety, health conditions, pain, injury, a difficult upbringing, mistreatment I’ve experienced…etc.
Not that we would ever wish any negative thing upon our spouse, but sometimes it would be nice if they could be inside our minds and just know how we think and feel about things, so we can truly be 100% understood! Since we cannot fully know what our spouse goes through and vice versa, we need to do our best to listen and try to understand the other. And along with providing service, love and support, we also need to pray for them! Praying for our spouse is yet another way to show them that we care, that we not only love them, but that we are mindful of them. That we care enough to remember their struggles, concerns, and pains as we cry to the Lord on their behalf.
It also helps me know I have a safe place to lay my head and someone to turn to when things get rough, because now I realize on a deeper level that he is listening. He is trying to understand and he is portraying that at that very moment through prayer.
We know that prayer can bring about blessings, but we may not realize that those blessings can sometimes be immediate, especially when we pray as a couple. Praying as a couple each night ensures self-reflection. It is then that we take a moment to say things that otherwise most likely would not be said. It brings our focus back to God, back to our countless blessings, and back to each other. At the conclusion of each prayer I feel a deeper love for my husband. I feel a deep gratitude that he is right there next to me and that together we are striving to live closer to God.
After hearing my husband communicate with our Father in Heaven, I feel that he has communicated with me on a whole new level. All the words that he has spoken have made me feel honored, validated, understood, cared for, cherished, appreciated, and so deeply loved. So although no marriage is perfect and our communication with our spouses may be lacking, as we pray together the Lord can bless us by bridging that gap the moment we start to pray.