My wife and I attend separate churches. She attends the church from her childhood where most of her friends and her sister and mother are members. While that church is fine, I find it’s not my worship style and I prefer the church I attend. Hers is more contemporary, while mine is more liturgical. Is it wrong for us not to go to the same church?
We’ve discovered in our own marriage and in the marriages of hundreds of couples that we’ve worked with that one of the most potent and powerful forms of intimacy is spiritual intimacy.
The question isn’t as much whether it is wrong or right, the real question is what is best for your marriage relationship? What is going to increase the possibility of, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “your hearts being knit together in love?”
Not going to the same church is kind of like being married and not living in the same house. If you don’t like the same food do you go to different restaurants, different movies, take different vacations? What is going to increase the probability of you becoming one?
Attending the same church is both a powerful “spiritual” experience and a powerful “relationship” experience. As a couple you have the opportunity to ride to church together, have the same friends that can know you as individuals and as a couple, hearing the same message that you can then share together and discuss through out the week. Your shared church experience provides a powerful backdrop for your spiritual relationship together. A more important question may be how do you experience your relationship with God together? Are you praying together, reading scripture together and sharing with each other how God is at work in your lives.
Many newlyweds who have strong ties to their pre-couple church find it helpful to seek out a new church together in which they become known for who they are as a couple who are becoming one in Christ, rather than who they were before they were married. This tends to strengthen their new identity, strengthen their commitment to God and to each other, and give each of them a fresh “pathway” to growing in Christ.
How you solve this may be more important than what you decide. Are you open to doing what’s best for your marriage rather than playing it safe by sticking with where you feel safe? How much time have you spent together in prayer? How many of your friends have you asked to pray for you as you seek God’s direction? How much time have you spent talking about the kinds of things you have to bring to a church and the kinds of things you hope a church can give you?
We would strongly encourage you to consider the advantages of attending church as a couple. Seek the Lord’s direction and be open to something new and fresh he just might have for you.
Carrie Oliver, M.A., is an educator and a marriage and family counselor. Gary J. Oliver, Th.M., Ph.D. is executive director of The Center for Relationship Enrichment and Professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. The Olivers have co-authored Raising Sons . . . and Loving It! (Zondervan). Visit Carrie and Gary at www.liferelationships.com.