Praying together is one of the most intimate things that a couple can do together. You are allowing another human being into your relationship with God in a unique way when you pray with your boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance or spouse. But how do you begin to incorporate prayer? Or what are different options when it comes to praying as a couple? Here are some tips and hints that we’ve found throughout our relationship, and advice that others have given us.
Receive the Sacraments Together
The Mass is the greatest prayer in the Catholic Church. Because Christ becomes really, truly present in the sacrament of the altar, the Mass offers a beautiful opportunity to become united with Christ and His calling for His people. The the first Mass that we attended together, the second reading was Ephesians 5 which set the tone for our relationship beautifully.
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.
Chloe: Over winter break this year, Joseph spent half of his break in the same town as I live. What I loved was that we would meet each other almost every morning at morning mass. I loved getting to start everyday for two weeks with Joseph by my side at Mass. What better way to celebrate your relationship with each other than joining your voices with those of the angels and saints as they sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” before the throne of the maker of your soul and lover of your heart?
Joseph: Chloe suggested going to Mass and a walk together for our second date. I’m really glad she made this suggestion. Incorporating the Mass into our relationship from the beginning has made it very natural to keep God at the center of our relationship.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the Christian Life (1324). During Eucharistic Adoration, we “watch and wait”, we remain “silent” in His Presence and open ourselves to His Graces which flow from the Eucharist … By worshiping the Eucharistic Jesus, we become what God wants us to be! Like a magnet, The Lord draws us to Himself and gently transforms us.
Chloe: Personally, Eucharistic adoration has been a life-saving remedy for so many of life’s trials. There is no peace found like that of laying your struggles literally before the feet of Christ in the Tabernacle. Joseph and I have gone to adoration together, which I feel embodies this quote: “Run as fast as you can towards God, and if someone runs alongside you, introduce yourself.” When Joseph and I first met, I was running towards God in adoration – and now Joseph has joined me in that dead sprint towards His heart.
Every time I stop into the adoration chapel by my house on the way home from work or after a long day, I always remember to talk to God about Joseph. And then listen to what He has to say about things in our relationship. He gives pretty good advice, and knows my heart a lot better than I give Him credit for.
Joseph: I have really liked going to adoration with Chloe. Even though we don’t say anything to each other it is a bonding experience because we are both spending time with God together.
Catholicism offers a huge array of structured prayer that you can incorporate into your prayer life with your partner. The rosary is a great way to start praying together if you’ve never introduced prayer into your relationship.
Chloe: When I first started officially dating Joseph back in September, the first thing I asked my spiritual director was how to incorporate prayer and spirituality in our relationship. He gave great advice, including finishing every time that we left for the night with a prayer and dedicating our time together with Christ. When I told Joseph about the idea, he found the prayer that we pray together regularly. I loved how he shows spiritual leadership in our relationship.
Joseph: One of the things we did to incorporate structured prayer into our relationship was to find a relationship prayer online and adapt it to better fit us. We usually pray this prayer together after phone conversations or after spending the day together. View our relationship prayer
Catholics get a bad rap for “memorized prayers” – and if all that a Hail Mary is for you is going through the motions and saying memorized words, then yes, that’s a problem. But structured prayer is beautiful when you are able to pray it with your heart instead of just saying it with you words. Look at the Psalms – essentially the Psalms are praising God in the way He loves best, with the words that He inspired David to write. But praying with your own words is an incredible way to pray as well.
Chloe: After a stressful day of wedding planning and feeling things fall away from my perfectionist plan, Joseph suggested we take a quick week’s break from scheduling and planning and just enjoy the time we had as an engaged couple. That night, after the conversation, he asked God to bless our time together and give us peace about the upcoming months. Talking with God alongside the man who I get to call my husband soon was a huge part of finally having a sense of peace about the wedding plans.
Joseph: We haven’t incorporated very much spontaneous prayer into our relationship yet. However, I use spontaneous prayer to talk to God about our relationship on a regular basis.
Praying with the Saints
When we first started dating, we picked a patron saint for our relationship. For multiple reasons, we chose Saint Pope John Paul II. The way we incorporated him into our relationship was to include intercession to him in our prayers. We also took a class on Love and Responsibility together – which was a book written by John Paul II after talking with college students about marriage.
Chloe: I love incorporating the saints into our relationship. When I first started dating Joseph, I started praying to Saint Joseph and Saint Michael for him everyday. As our relationship continued, I also added Saints Louis and Zelie Martin into my daily litany for us as a couple. As our relationship grew, I continued to add saints to my litany. I love how each saint is interceding for us as a couple, and how when we reach Heaven, I’ll get to chat with them about how they helped us during our time on earth. Praying to the saints is a constant reminder that Joseph and I’s relationship is bigger than ourselves.
Joseph: Chloe has a much closer relationship with the saints than I do. I enjoy learning about the lives of the saints and asking for their intercession in prayer. The saints are very inspirational because they are normal people, sinners just like you me, who decided to answer God’s call in their lives. The ultimate goal of our relationship is to help each other get to heaven and the saints demonstrate that this goal is achievable.
Sacrifice for Each Other
A strong relationship comes from two people who are willing to sacrifice for each other. In practical purposes, this could look like offering up little things for the one you love. G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.”
Chloe: The week of our engagement, on our hiking trip in Texas, was one instance of sacrifice in my relationship with Joseph. There were so many times where the tough inclines felt like they would never end. The only thoughts that got me through were the words of the “Hail Mary” and a conscious offering up of my struggles for Joseph.
Joseph: Love is willing the other’s good before your own. Without sacrifice, I don’t think any relationship can thrive. It’s really just about making those small sacrifices throughout the day.
For Long Distance Couples
Long distance can be challenging, believe me, we’re right with you. But it also offers incredible opportunities to grow closer to your partner spiritually. For instance, it could be easy to turn to frustration with a situation when you want your partner to be close to you geographically. But instead of becoming bitter at your situation, long distance relationships offer a unique way of sacrificing for the other. Channel your feelings towards Mama Mary and she’ll take your desires to her son.
Chloe: There are times when the distance between Joseph and I feels like thousands of miles instead of the reality of 53.4 miles. Offering up that desire for Joseph to be close has helped me realize the beauty of sacrifice and prayer. Another idea that helps me during that time apart is turning my desires into a prayer. Instead of thinking, “I wish Joseph was here,” I’ll add the word ‘Lord’ in front of my heart’s wishes. “Lord, I wish Joseph was here, but he isn’t. Guide him today and help us both draw closer to you until we see each other again. ” Our spiritual life is not bound by being close geographically to each other.
Joseph: Being about an hour drive apart, it has been hard not being able to see each other on a daily basis. However, I appreciate it so much more when we do get to spend time together. It also makes it easier to be intentional about our relationship because we don’t want to waste the time we spend together.
The prayer life that you have with your partner will evolve and change as you get to know each other deeper. The prayers that you pray together during your time as boyfriend and girlfriend will look different from the prayers you pray together as a married couple. As you get to know one another at a soul level, the interaction in your prayer life reflects that deeper connection.
Don’t spend so much time wrapped up in the logistics of praying together. Yes, be prudent with how quickly you let someone into the most intimate part of your relationship with God. But don’t become scrupulous in the wondering of when is the right time to pray, and if you’re doing it right. The most simplistic answer that I have found is that the only way to grow in your prayer life is practice. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner to pray, and in all circumstances. Pray together in times of joy, stress, anger, and sorrow. If your life is structured in prayer, things tend to flow smoothly because of your contentment in Christ.