Just as we grow in our relationship with God, so too we must grow in our relationship with our spouse. Sadly, way too often, we stop dating our loved one after we say “I Do.” But my Friends, this should not be. Listen to the Word of God:
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Gen 2:24 NIV
One Flesh. The joke goes something like this, “The man and woman are one, but its that becoming that’s the real challenge!” It takes a lifetime for these two very different creatures to truly grow into oneness. While in their hearts, men and women desire the same things, the way we go about acquiring them will usually vary. We all want to belong. We all want to be secure. We all want to love and be loved. Yet the way a man senses love, and the way a women does, can be very different. This is just one of the reasons why we must continue to get to know one another. To listen to, not only what we tell each other with words, but sometimes more importantly what we communicate with our actions. Body language can speak volumes…but if we do not engage in these vital four “C’s” for a healthy marriage, we can miss the depth of enjoyment from this most sacred union.
Communicate. As I mentioned above, we often say more with body language than we do with words. Too often there is something holding us back from just being free to speak our minds with our spouse. That something, of course, is Pride. It is this false desire to protect ourselves, or defend ourselves, or just be right, that causes us to pretend instead of just being honest. Because of past injuries we have experienced throughout our upbringing, we are hesitant to be vulnerable and honest with our spouse, so sometimes our body language is our go-to. But unfortunately, no one is a mind reader, so we must learn to feel comfortable in explaining our true thoughts and emotions and desires with one another. Open conversation should be at the top of our list if we really want to become one with our spouse. A simple thing like setting some ground rules about what is acceptable, and what is not, as we communicate, must be laid out so that we are not further wounding one another, but instead seeking to heal. For instance, the first rule is to center our communication on love, which means we will not ridicule one another. We will follow God’s definition of love as detailed in 1Co 13. That means we will be patient and kind with one another. It means we will not be envious, boastful or selfishly prideful. We will not dishonor, be self-seeking or keep any record of wrongs. We will rejoice in the Truth, always protect, trust and inspire hope in one another. Communication must be learned, so as we grow in this most sacred union, each spouse senses their worth and equally benefits from this marriage. Great communication leads us to compromise.
Compromise. As I said last week, one of the most important lessons we learn through marriage is becoming self-LESS by putting the one we love ahead of ourselves, just like Jesus did, and still does. Compromise means it is not always, and only, about “ME”! Compromise is how two become one. This requires we cooperate with one another. This requires that we get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This requires encouraging each other to use those strengths in godly ways, as well as helping each other grow in any weaknesses. We should be each other’s greatest fan and cheerleader. Uplifting one another so we can be a better human being individually, which will translate into being a better couple unitedly. Again, we are fighting against Pride here. “It is NOT about me,” can change a mediocre marriage into the fulfilling partnership it was intended to be. Humble compromise leads to greater compassion.
Compassion. It is defined as “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” And if we are going to have compassion on others, we must certainly start with our spouse! This opens our hearts to understanding that no one is perfect. We all have our own personal set of problems from our past and present, but together, we can change our future so that we are no longer suffering because of them. Sympathy and empathy instead will lead to healing these past hurts. Having compassion on our spouse means we remember this, and choose to not take things personally when friction comes, because it will come. Just like we would love to receive compassion when we fail, so too we must learn to let this be our first response towards our spouse. Understanding that we have triggers, and taking the time to learn what they are so we are sensitive about pushing each others buttons, can squelch all sorts of unnecessary battles before they begin. As we grow in Christ, we will grasp the Truth that no one is flawless this side of Heaven and that will help us become one with our spouse. Whole hearted compassion deepens our connection with our spouse.
Connection. Again this is the whole point, right? To become one with someone requires a connection…and the deeper that connection is, the more “one” we are. This leads to a more fulfilling life because we will both experience more peace and joy and sense that sweet righteousness that God granted us at Salvation. We must be committed to this idea of oneness. Hey, there’s another important “C” word! We are no longer supposed to be two individual humans living for ourselves, but one person, committed to working for the common good of one another. This is what God desires for His Church, for all of us to become one in Christ, and marriage is where we are supposed to be learning this most vital lesson. The more “one” we become, the more of this Abundant Life we will experience, and the more we can share it with this lost and hurting world.
Submit to one another. (Eph 5:21) As we continue to grow into oneness with our spouse by 1- opening honest and safe communication, 2- by learning to compromise for the benefit of both, 3- by deepening our compassion for each other and 4- by finding ways to connect more intimately, we will automatically submit to one another. That is, we will desire to become more and more self-LESS and put the one we love ahead of ourselves, just like Jesus. But please understand: submission does NOT mean abuse. My Friends, if you are in an abusive relationship, please, PLEASE seek help. This was never God’s desire for marriage. He wants both spouses, both husband and wife, to have a mutually safe and secure relationship. Being aware of these four vital aspects of this most sacred relationship is a start. Remember it is a process…this becoming one really is the hard part. But with God’s help, all things are possible. This is what I continue to experience in my own sprouting marriage. The more I choose to communicate, compromise, have compassion and connect deeper with Joe, the more wonderful life becomes. Want that too? Then won’t you join me?
Until we meet again, keep lifting your eyes to God, He’s closer than you think.
<>< Peace, Diane