Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Oneness in Marriage

If "oneness" is one of the primary goals of marriage ("the two shall become one flesh..."), let's explore some of the things that thwart or hinder "oneness" in marriage.

There are many reasons why a couple might fail to achieve oneness:
* All of the sins which are rooted in the unholy trinity,
namely, "me, myself, and I." All of the hypenated "self"
sins, like: selfish, self-centered, self-interest, self-
concern, self-focused, etc.
* Various "flesh patterns" and "coping strategies" which we
develop over our lifetimes which are aimed at "making
life work the way we think it should work or the way we
think we deserve it to work"... another way to say it is,
"making life work apart from God and His ways."
* Failing to deal properly with unmet expectations and

The "self" sins are fairly easy to understand. Anytime I am more focused on myself and what I want as opposed to what God wants or what is best for the marital relationship, I will hinder the ability to connect with my spouse.

Flesh patterns and coping strategies are developed over a lifetime. They grow out of our fears, insecurities and wounds. An example might be that a man is "passive" in his marriage. If, as a young man, he was criticized by his parents or if he believed that he does not know exactly what to do in a given situation, then instead of moving into the "chaos" of life, he will choose to be passive or withdraw. The truth is he may choose this path of passivity simply because he does not want to risk rejection and criticism from his wife. He may have an idea of what to do but he just isn't willing to take a risk by acting on his thoughts, ideas, or potential solutions.

Another example of a "flesh pattern" is a woman is when a woman becomes controlling. Often the root of control in women is FEAR which they are not conscious of. She is afraid of life in general and all the things that can go wrong in life. So, she has convinced herself that if she is in control she can minimize the amount of hurt that touches her life.

Both of these patterns are not what God desires of a man or woman in marriage (or even in life in general.) However, the great thing about God is that He will allow people to use these faulty, flesh patterns. God ultimately wants these patterns to be exposed for what they are. God wants every person to be able to recognize the ways they attempt to make life work and exchange the sick and faulty ones for His way of doing things.

An expectation is a desire or mental picture that is not always communicated and which, when goes unfulfilled, produces significant emotional distress. We all enter marriage with certain expectations. Sometimes we express these expectations and sometimes we are not aware that they exist.

A woman may enter marriage with the expectation that the new husband will continue to give her the same amount of attention and care that he gave her during their courtship. A man may have an expectation that the house will be spotless and that a hot meal will be on the table every evening.

Almost every couple has experienced a "season" when their flesh patterns, coping strategies, differences and diverse backgrounds and expectations collide. When this happens, it would be good for the new couple to see it as AN OPPORTUNITY for them to draw near to God and allow God to expose what is really going on... what the real, deep dynamics are. However, all too often, each partner will begin to justify their flesh patterns or will defend their rights or will excuse their differences, rather than stepping back and taking a long, hard look at what is root problem between them.

A good rule-of-thumb is that if I react strongly to someone the issue is not really about them as much as it is about me. Something in me is coming to the surface and God is just using the other person in order to expose this hidden area or thought or belief or dynamic within me. When we choose to look at it this way, it explains "marriage is God's chief sanctifying tool."

Instead of blaming or attacking each other, consider looking at the root of the issue. Start with yourself. Ask God to show you what is going on. Then, bring your issue to Him and/or confess and repent when necessary. The closer you are to God the more you will be able to draw near to your spouse and experience the "oneness" that God desires for you in your marriage.

1. What are some way that you try to make life work or try to feel good about yourself apart from God?
2. What were some of the expectations you had when you first got married?
3. How did you develop these expectations?
4. Have the expectations proven to be "realistic?" Why/why not?
5. How do you, as a couple, handle your disappointments and differences?

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