How Do I Build Intimacy With a Spouse Who Has Different Interests?

Make a Plan


Is your idea of fun going out to dinner and a movie, but your spouse would rather stay in and read? Dr. David Powlison, counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), addresses the different needs and desires of married couples and suggests practical ways for them to connect.

David Powlison has been doing biblical counseling for over 30 years and has written numerous articles on counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, Power Encounters, and The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context.


Did the woman’s letter sound familiar to you? What about the story David shared about he and his wife? If so, what do you have in common with them?
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It can be difficult to love and invest in a spouse who has different interests than yours. At the center of the struggle, we get a clear vision of God’s purposes in our marriages: to mature us and make us more like Christ. 

David said that most couples are initially drawn together because of some type of compatibility, or common ground. In what ways are you and your spouse compatible? What do you share in common?
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Though there are many things couples have in common, husbands and wives are not clones of each other. David said every couple also has various areas of incompatibility. There are differences that need to be negotiated and sorted out. What differences do you and your spouse have?
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If you were to describe your perfect day, what would it include?
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Now describe your spouse’s perfect day. What, if anything, do your perfect days have in common? What is different about them?
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Your perfect day will likely not ever be your spouse’s perfect day and vice versa, but that’s OK. Dave said differences in our marriage are one of the primary ways God grows us.  

In what ways have you already experienced God’s growing you through some of the differences you and your spouse have?
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David said that much of marriage is about bringing together people who, by fallen nature, don’t love easily or well. That’s tough to hear, but share a time it was obviously the case.
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Ephesians 5:22-27 (ESV)

Wives and Husbands

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Ephesians 5 shows us that marriage is about loving someone who is not only different, but who’s sinful. Husbands are called to live their wives like Christ loves the Church, who is imperfect. Wives are to submit to their husbands like they submit to Christ… except that their husbands aren’t Christ. Loving the often unloveable is hard. 

When you and your spouse are struggling to love one another, and specifically to connect, what are some things you are feeling? What is often your behavior when you’re feeling that way?
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David shared a story about he and his wife, Nan. Each of them had wanted different things—R&R and TLC—but they didn’t know how to give them to each other. They argued, got angry, and felt self righteous until each of them understood their own sin that was at the root of their behavior. Once they made a practical plan that both met their individual needs and also sacrificed for the other, David and Nan were able to more freely and happily love one another. 

What do you think of David and Nan’s Sunday night/Monday morning plan?
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If you were to identify your primary needs when it comes to connecting with each other, what might some of them be?
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What are some possible plans you can make to meet those needs regularly? Take some time to brainstorm.
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David said his plan with Nan was based on genuine and repentant self knowledge and a seeking of God’s aid. If you’re with your spouse right now, take a minute to confess some of the sin in you that keeps you from connecting. Then take a minute to pray together, asking God to help you love and connect with one another better.  

What have you learned about the nature of love through David’s response and working through this post?
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In what ways can you imagine God working in and through your marriage if you aim to love each other better?
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Having different interests can create quite a bit of friction in a relationship. With friction comes opportunity, though. You and your spouse can connect in new and meaningful ways if you each take the time to evaluate yourselves, confess sin, and seek God’s help for change. David and Nan each changed by God’s grace, and their plan opened up a whole new avenue for connection. The same can happen for you!  


This video is a publication of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). All content is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from CCEF. For more information on classes, materials, speaking events, distance education and other services, please visit www.ccef.org