I used to think that people who said they read the Bible with their significant other were lying, or had achieved a level of super-holiness that I could never hope to reach. It wasn’t something that I’d ever seen happen, and even though I was convinced that time in God’s word alone matter heaps, the idea of it with a significant other seemed… odd. How do you actually study the Bible together? Is it like a Bible study? Is it like a test? Maybe a devotional? Or story time? It was just foreign to me, but when James and I were thinking through things we wanted to be a part of our relationship, we wanted spending time in the Bible together to be one so that our focus would stay on God, and we’d look to Him for satisfaction, not just each other.
The first time we did open the Bible together was awkward. It was at a cafe and neither of us really knew what to do. I felt like I couldn’t say much because I didn’t want to sound arrogant and he didn’t know what this should look like either, but he felt like he should. It was frustrating and awkward, but we saw potential in it, and so we tried again. The first was Psalm 150, then we began to move backwards through the Psalms.
Over a few months while we were dating it turned from awkward to great. Once James described it as “getting a roast chicken and just pulling it apart to get all the good bits you can”, and I think there’s something to that – though, Psalms gross me out a lot less than chickens. We would open a Psalm and talk about it, then pray together. We’d talk about what stuck out, what challenged us, what we didn’t understand, and then we’d talk to God about it together.
On our honeymoon, we finished some days with what has become a favourite moment of our days. A Psalm cuddle. We’ve got a copy of Tim Keller’s devotional ‘My Rock, My Refuge’ and we work through that. Full disclosure, though – we’re only at the end of April in that book, and it’s August now. Consistency has been a struggle and we’re learning to work our way around schedules and shifts and tireds and other distractions like Netflix. The Psalm cuddle is as follows:
- Step 1: Cuddle
- Step 2: Pray for focus while we open a Psalm together
- Step 3: Read the Psalm and the devotional
- Step 4: Pray for each other, for someone else that God’s got on our minds, and the prayer that’s in the book.
- Step 5: Cuddle & sleep
It’s a simple formula and it’s one that we can come back to at the end of a long day and know that we can spend hours on the Psalm, or five minutes. It’s a way that we keep coming back to the Word together, and it’s a good way for us to finish a day because no matter what’s happened, we have some solid ground to put our feet on as we fall asleep.
Why do that together, though? Surely we would be trying to spend time in the Bible individually during the day and that’s enough! We are, and it is, but there’s a pressure that gets put on relationships that isn’t healthy. Your spouse isn’t there to satisfy you. You cannot fully satisfy your spouse. When the Hollywood fantasy of falling asleep beside the one who completes you is the one that you want your night to end looking like, the satisfaction has moved from your God to your spouse and they cannot do that. You can’t either. Having something integrated into our routine that brings our eyes back to God – together – is such a helpful practice.
Proverbs says that iron sharpens iron, and your spouse should be iron to your iron. They can encourage you and challenge you and rebuke you in ways that others can’t, and you should be able to think things through in a safe space with them. They should be a safe space to navigate the deep waters of the Word and the Christian life without fear.
We’re not perfect. None of us are. Tiredness happens, and sometimes it feels too hard. Sometimes one person doesn’t want to come to the table (or cuddle, I guess). What I’m presenting isn’t intended to be an imperative but rather an encouragement to those who are married to open the Bible together, even if it’s awkward, and to dig in and look up to the God who joined you together.
Give it a go. If you’re keen to try Keller’s devotional on the Psalms, you can buy it here. Otherwise, open up the Bible and start reading where ever you want. Read a Psalm, if you like.