By Lavern Nissley
If I were to tell you that there is a simple, 5 minute daily habit that has been shown to increase the chances of marriage success to over 99%, would you want to know what it is? Would you be interested in trying it out?
Ronda and I came across this secret during a marriage workshop in March, 1990. It changed the trajectory of our own marriage, likely saving it. And we love to share this potent secret with others.
Only 11% of couples pray together on a daily basis. By praying together we mean more than offering thanks at meals or crying out for help during major decisions or crises. A daily habit of coming together regularly and humbly as a couple and seeking resources, wisdom and protection decreases the chances of marriage failure to less than 1%.
A 1997 Gallup Poll done by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement (nameonline.net) showed the divorce rate among couples who pray together regularly is 1 out of 1,152. That's way less then 1%.
A more recent study published in Journal of Marriage and Family, August, 2010 reached similar compelling conclusions about the effectiveness of couples engaging in faith practices together. (See The Couple That Prays Together: Race and Ethnicity, Religion, and Relationship Quality Among Working-Age Adults by Ellison, Burdette and Wilcox).
Even Redbook, in an article Ronda read, had this to say from a University of Chicago survey: "75 percent of the Americans who pray with their spouses reported that their marriages are 'very happy' (compared to 57 percent of those who don't). Those who pray together are also more likely to say they respect each other, discuss their marriage together, and — stop the presses — rate their spouses as skilled lovers." Well there you go!
The marriage workshop we attended in March, 1990 inspired Ronda and me to begin praying together daily. It changed our lives and likely saved our marriage. No, it didn't remove all conflicts and frustrations we have with each other. But it has helped us navigate a whole host of varied challenges through the years following. Not sure where we would be without that daily habit of praying together.
In 2007 while compiling The RINGS Experience for couples we added a daily communication tool known as the RINGS Chat, an acrostic for daily connection in 5 areas: REAL, INFORMATION/INTENTIONS, NEEDS, GRATEFUL and SOMEDAY.
Very recently, in February, 2019, we developed a RINGS Chat style tool that couples can use in praying together. It uses the same 5 acrostic letters to guide couples in communicating together with God. Below are the front and back of this newly developed card.
A common concern/question we hear from couples: "Isn't it awkward or scary to pray together?" It IS intimate and personal, but it's become as natural as breathing for us. And just as necessary.
But don't just take our word on this topic. The website https://www.coupleprayer.com/ is filled with testimonials and videos from other couples who have woven daily prayer into their relationship. At over a 99% of marriage success, wouldn't it be worth a try?
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.