Marriage as God created it is bliss. It’s a safe, secure place of loving friendship, where each member can be who they are without fearing rejection. Before sin entered their relationship, Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed” (Genesis 2:25).
Unfortunately, none of us have sin-free marriages, and the presence of sin often gives way to the presence of shame and hiding – just as Adam and Eve tried to hide and cover their nakedness after sinning against God.
If we want to experience the kind of relational intimacy marriage was made for, the answer is not to find a sin-free spouse. Planet Earth doesn’t contain any of those. Instead, we must respond in godly ways to our spouse’s sin and shortcomings. If we don’t, we may end up piling weights of shame and fear on our spouse that hinder marital intimacy.
In an article titled, “The Silent Marriage-Killer,” author Heather Davis Nelson shares a list of twelve questions couples can ask to evaluate shame’s impact on their marriage.
- Are there topics that have become off-limits because you or your spouse get too prickly, defensive, or embarrassed?
- Can you share embarrassing stories or painful struggles with your spouse and expect empathy, or would you be more likely to receive further ridicule or condemnation?
- Do you talk openly about your failures, past and present?
- Is your spouse the first person you turn to for support, comfort, or celebration? And does your spouse do the same to you?
- When you confront sin in your spouse, do you do so with gentleness and humility as a fellow struggler, or with the posture of one who would never sin in that way?
- How comfortable are you in your sexual relationship?
- Do you share your emotions with your spouse and vice versa?
- When conflicts arise between you, are you able to resolve them, or do you seem to stall out frequently when one of you withdraws indefinitely?
- Do you regularly share with each other what God is teaching you through his word, church, and your personal devotional life?
- Do you pray together?
- Do you confess your sins to one another as needed, as often as sin arises?
- Would you prefer not to talk about sin at all, because it’s just too uncomfortable for both of you?
After listing these questions, Nelson offers gospel insights and practical steps for how a husband and wife can work together to pursue the unashamed intimacy marriage was created for.