Do you and your spouse relate to God differently? Are you avoiding spiritual growth out of fear that it might damage your marriage? Has a potent religious experience driven a wedge between you and your spouse? Does God call a husband or wife to move forward while leaving his or her partner behind?
One wife reveals here that from time to time her husband “even vented his frustration: ‘How dare you bring this awesome force [God] into the middle of us?’”
What is a married person to do when God means something different to each?
Together But Alone: When God Means Something Different to Your Spouse addresses the challenges of individual spiritual growth in the context of marriage. By telling her own story, author Donna Erickson Couch signals readers that she speaks from personal experience. Readers can also have confidence in her pastoral expertise as a parish faith formation director and spiritual director.
Couch shares professional knowledge and the stories of other persons who have walked the same road. While no two situations are identical, we can learn from couples who have resolved spiritual differences in ways that promote individuation as well as marital unity.
Central to Couch’s counsel is to rest in the loving presence of God. That is not the simplistic advice of “Just pray about it, and God will take care of it” nor is it a directive to anxiously beg for what one wants. She recommends what all spiritual masters do: a trusting acceptance of one’s situation and openness to the Holy Spirit’s work in and through life circumstances.
The first half of the book focuses on the singular nature of the spiritual path and the tensions between growth and stagnation, between longing and loneliness, and between solitude and community. The second half of the book explores how relationships, particularly those of marriage and family, assist us on the journey into God.
Through marriage God teaches us about the mysteries of love and intimacy. Even the dilemma of how to raise children when one spouse chooses to be uninvolved with religion provides a setting for the Holy Spirit’s work. Couch offers ideas for meal prayer, religious icons in the home and talking about God, and she is realistic about the potential effects of each step. She describes how friends and other spiritual guides can provide support that is lacking at home.
To top off the author’s wisdom, the book closes with reflection questions for journaling, prayer or group discussion. This book is solidly within the Catholic tradition and at the same time valuable to persons of any faith.