5 Ways To Have A More Spiritual Relationship, From A Couples Counselor
Many couples find themselves unhappy or empty in their relationship. The physical bonds can naturally fade as life's responsibilities and the safe routine set in—even for those partners whose initial union felt soulful and natural, deep and passionate.
Two years into what I thought was a surefire marriage, a lack of connectedness caught me by surprise. I thought once you find an amazing person then, sure, the relationship will take effort, but the closeness and fulfillment would simply expand naturally. I had no idea at the time that my husband and I were missing a deeper spiritual connection, both individually and together.
Rather than breaking us apart, we used this marriage crisis to break us open. Looking back, we were definitely on the brink of a quest for a more spiritual relationship.
Many find the idea of a more spiritual relationship quite intriguing, and, at the same time, vague and confusing. Before we delve into what it means to have a spiritual relationship—with some simple ways to grow more spiritually intimate with your partner–let's define spirituality.
Spirituality is a popular word and pursuit these days. More and more people are hungry for a soulful experience, seeking to transcend the relentless concerns of physical reality and to connect to something profoundly real that lies beyond their everyday self. Some people find their spiritual life woven into their church, synagogue, temple, or mosque, where they seek awe and comfort in the beliefs, moral codes, and rituals of their faith. Spirituality being intertwined with their religious association, this typically comes with being part of its culture and community.
Until recent times, religion and spirituality were regarded as the same thing. While these concepts still overlap, since the onset of the twentieth century, they have grown increasingly distinct. According to Pew Research Center, a growing number of Americans consider themselves spiritual but not religious. Religion generally leans towards practices and beliefs of the divine, emphasizing what's right and wrong, true and false. Spirituality is a broader concept leaving room for soul-searching and different meanings for different people.
Seeking a more spiritual life is typically driven by a desire to unify with something bigger than ourselves and to viscerally experience the connectedness and love essential to our being and Source. Nourishing the very human desire for peace, meaning, and purpose are also fundamental to seekers of their spiritual side.
These independent seekers want to ask the tough questions and are drawn to the ability to pick and choose what helps them make sense of the world around them—particularly millennials and Gen Z. Spiritual practices can range from prayer to meditation, from yoga to community service, from personal transformation to a belief in reincarnation. Some feel spiritual through art, music, or the earth, when they live true to their values, or when they study elevated spiritual concepts. Spiritual folks sometimes choose a like-minded community—but not across the board—and the practice is generally more individualized, intentional, and experiential.
What is a spiritual relationship?
What does all this mean for our relationships? Whether it’s through our traditional affiliations or our spiritually-minded practices, bringing the divine into our relationship connects us to endlessness.
A purely romantic, physical, or transactional relationship keeps us dwelling in the limited reality of time, space, and motion, where everything comes to an end, eventually. Even if relationships last, it's all too common that the fulfillment proves finite. When we apply spiritual concepts to our relationship, we tap into the infinite, which blows open the gates for a more meaningful bond—one that not only has a greater chance of survival but allows our relationship to grow endlessly more loving and satisfying. Yes, endlessly!
I define a spiritual relationship as a bond that a couple builds together through how they live their spiritual values and beliefs and support one another to become who they are meant to become. The oneness that is created reveals spiritual Light for eternity, and not only for the partners themselves but for everyone they touch–directly and quantumly.
Please don't be alarmed by how deep this may sound. Rest assured, building a more spiritual relationship is actually simple and practical (though not effort-free, of course), and the process overlaps with building an overall healthy partnership.
Ways to build a more spiritual relationship.
1. Create good relationship habits to build your foundation.
Everything you do to help improve the overall quality of your relationship builds the foundation for growing more spiritually connected with your partner. This foundation comes simply by way of good relationship habits. Each time you choose a good habit with your partner—for example, when you act kinder, give a compliment, show up for their needs, forgive, see the good in them, plan something fun, address conflict calmly, focus on appreciation, show care about their dreams, give love in their language, or take the time for a meaningful conversation—these positive actions add up.
Ultimately we are the creators of our relationship, one good habit at a time.
An important aspect of building your foundation is through addressing relationship enemies. That is, what are the barriers to the two of you feeling closer, happier, and more loved? For this, I suggest you consider a trusted relationship counselor. They can help you identify root patterns keeping you stuck to communicate more effectively.
2. Have meaningful conversations about your relationship.
In the interest of building a foundation, try to engage with each other in meaningful conversation about your relationship. To do this, find a peaceful environment and time that works well for both of you. Make sure the mood is neutral, not after a fight or an emotional trigger. In the spirit of curiosity and desire to grow closer, take turns asking one another questions like the ones you see below. They start with the positive for good reason.
- How are you feeling in our relationship?
- What is working well for you?
- Where do you feel loved by me?
- What are you grateful for about me and about us?
- In what ways do you feel happy and fulfilled?
- What are the issues you feel we need to address in our relationship?
- Is there something you can think of that I can do to help you feel more loved?
- How do you feel we communicate?
- How can I do a better job of helping you feel heard and appreciated?
3. Grow together.
After 34 years of marriage, my husband and I recently had one of the deepest conversations we've ever had. It wasn't easy, but we got to a buried concern of his which showed me something about myself that I really want to change. I felt so much love in my heart after he opened up, from his tender vulnerability and the bullseye feedback he ended up giving me.
This growth-promoting event points to a cornerstone element in what makes a relationship more spiritual: helping each other become who we are meant to become. To do so means caring about our partner's soul, not just getting our needs met or relief from our own discomfort. We want to commit to investing in our partner's growth to help (not control) them to reach their highest fulfillment.
As spiritual teacher Monica Berg put it in her book Rethink Love, a partner in a soul mate relationship is willing to become “your ally in sculpting your ideal self and bringing out the person you dream of becoming.” Likely if a need of yours is not being met, there is a trifecta benefit to be gained by addressing it together–one for your own healing and growth, another for your partner's elevation as a human being, and then there's the incredibly unifying experience of growing together.
See above for some prompts for talking about your relationship. Please make sure that you start this conversation with love in your heart and an eye toward helping you both become who you are meant to become. When we really receive feedback that resonates, we feel excited and happier. Growth for a relationship is gold. We feel a soul-to-soul connection with the person who is along the journey with us—one soul helping the other soul reveal itself.
4. Commit to something bigger.
Many people consider a spiritual relationship one that has compassion for the world and a desire to add value. Sharing beyond ourselves, especially to those we don't know, taps us into the energy of endlessness where fulfillment is quantum and has no limits. We can't see how far our kindness and sharing ripples out into the world. The energy couples create together when they use their union for the sake of sharing with the world, this generates perpetuity, never disappearing.
I learned from author and spiritual teacher, Karen Berg, that soul mates walk hand in hand together but facing out into the world. The idea is to focus some of your time together on finding more and better ways to share with others and the world at large.
5. Identify your shared vision and purpose.
Having a purpose for being together, and a shared vision of what spirituality means to you, is a significant way to directly build a more spiritual, conscious relationship. Be open to whatever your partner deems as their why and ask each other questions like:
- What do you feel is the primary purpose or intention of our relationship?
- In what ways might we express that in our day to day life together?
- What are your beliefs?
- What are your thoughts about spirituality and religion?
- How would you like to practice whatever spirituality means to you?
- What are some shared practices we can build together that align with our common beliefs and values?
What if my partner and I don't see eye to eye on spirituality?
Many couples don't discover their spirituality until later life stages, and partners don't always align. If you have differences in your desire for growth and spirituality—and if you lack alignment in your beliefs and practices—this can be challenging but not necessarily a dead end. Learning to embrace each others' differences is a spiritual practice in and of itself. I recommend investing in finding what you do share in common that will help you connect to a deeper sense of meaning and depth together. Growing and evolving as a person doesn't have to be coined as a spiritual practice, and staying away from that language can make it more approachable for some.
Whatever we feed grows. By feeding the spiritual intimacy in your relationship, you allow your two souls to unify more closely as one. Then, your relationship transforms into a conduit of loving energy for the world, and you become the greatest benefactors.