I am re-posting here, in its entirety, this article that I wrote early this year. It initially appeared on strongmarriagesmatter.com (along with the image, which is their original). I have had people tell me that they were helped by this post so I would like to continue making it available (strongmarriages.com is temporarily offline).
Do read on, and let me know how you relate with the lessons here.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
– Genesis 2:24
My other half and I have counseled a number of husbands and wives in the last years. Among the common issues we have encountered are:
- Resentment over unfulfilled expectations/commitments
- Jealousy over (suspected or confirmed) extramarital affairs
- Unforgiveness of past offenses
- Bitterness caused by hurtful words
- Complaints over one’s insensitivity to the other’s needs
- Grudges borne out of one’s unreasonable demands that burden the other
- Hostility brewed over countless un-settled arguments where one feels the other just won’t listen or let the other win (or in Filipino, “ayaw magpatalo”)
If one or more of the above items just made you raise your eyebrows, roll your eyes or nod involuntarily, then this message is for you.
Eleven years of marriage have taught me how crucial it is to have clarity on God’s word that tells us: A man and his wife “shall become one flesh.” Offering up a marriage to God and internalizing and living out this principle of one-ness protect a couple from the above pitfalls I listed.
ONE FLESH. I would like you just to ponder these two words for a minute. What picture forms in your head? What would you and your spouse look like and how would you behave if you two were to become literally one flesh?
My husband and I went through a LOT in the first few years of our marriage — emotional separation, bitterness, infidelity, stone-cold silence — all because we had not fully surrendered ourselves to God and had not known the one-ness that a God-glorifying marriage entailed. We selfishly pursued our individual aspirations, especially in our careers. We accommodated each other only when it was convenient, while each secretly keeping tabs of good things done versus the other’s shortcomings.
But God in His grace and faithfulness pulled us to Himself and taught us what true surrender and love was all about. Then as He caused us individually to walk right with Him, he restored our relationship with each other and taught us what one-ness in marriage truly meant.
Since then I have become increasingly simple-minded in my understanding of God’s truths in regard to my relationships with Him and with others, and I believe this trait is God’s grace to me as it has given me joy and contentment and rescued me from further tragedy in my marriage.
Here’s my learning, which I would like to impart to you:
I have come to see clearly how my being one flesh with my husband means that truly and simply, we are ONE PERSON.
My husband is not an other to whom I am merely extending favors (for which he should be thankful and give me something in return): He and I are one, and whatever I do unto him, I do unto myself.
Trying to measure which one of us gives more and which one gets more out of our marriage is not only futile but foolish, for whatever I give him, I actually give to my own self.
If I cause him harm, then I only harm myself.
If I neglect him, it is no different from neglecting my very own being.
I am not being a martyr when I sacrifice for him, for he and I are one.
To pursue his highest good is to pursue mine.
I pray that as you present your own marriage to our loving God, you and your spouse will be led by Him towards genuine one-ness, and both of you will experience the utter delight of following His design for your marriage.