Cinderella stories. Happily ever afters. Growing old together as best friends.
In my opinion, there’s hardly anything sweeter than seeing an elderly couple shuffling along the sidewalk, holding hands. My heart becomes a puddle. Every single time. You see, I know they have much more than a Cinderella story. It’s not that they became lucky, and found “the one.” It’s so much more! They are experiencing the results of years of dedicated work, mutual sacrifice, with lasting love being their reward.
Don’t get me wrong, I love true-life love stories. But these “Cinderella stories” have set up an entire generation of marriages for failure. Simply because love—in the novel form—is not half of what love really is. (Many of us don’t know how to love each other because, first of all, we don’t know how to truly love God. But that’s for a future blog…)
Each of us, who are married, long for oneness in our marriages. Yet, far too often, we don’t understand what to do to have it.
Now, my husband and I aren’t perfect in these two areas I’m going to talk about. But as we continue to work at it, we see the greater oneness we desire. And since we frequently work with other couples, we’ve seen these areas being problematic for many of them as well.
So let’s jump in. Are you ready? This first one is for the wives. One common way we, women, destroy the spirit of our marriage is…when we allow fear to control our hearts. This will always be one of our biggest battles. We destroy the heart of our marriage when we have fear because it always pushes us to control, which diminishes the potential of our husbands and children. Because of the curse in the Garden of Eden, each of us women will have the natural tendency to try to control our husbands. Sadly, we never have to look very far to see this in our own lives and in the lives of many women around us. “Then he said to the woman, ‘I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16-NLT)
Ladies, if you desire to have oneness in your marriage you need to quit trying to control. Your husband, children, your surroundings, finances, and your future. Ouch! That was my own toes being stepped on. But this is so true! Deal with your fears. Recognize where they come from, acknowledge them to your husband, and together ask God to help you overcome them.
Now for you men, oneness is also never found in a marriage unless you husbands are willing to do what God commands in Eph. 5: 25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…” Now that’s a tall order! So how does this love actually look like in a marriage relationship? Let me start by saying that it’s “a given” that a loving husband won’t be loving and lusting over other women. Obviously, if you’re loving your wife as Christ loved the church, there’s no room for competing affections. And that includes pornography. No matter how infrequent, it destroys you and your marriage.
But loving your wife is also demonstrated by you listening to her heart. Guys, if you don’t take the time to hear your wife’s heart, you will never have that oneness you greatly desire. If her cautions frustrate you or make you angry, you aren’t showing love to her. Most of the time, your wife simply wants to be able to share her heart with you. She has a deep need of simply being able to share her concerns, joys and struggles. Since you are the leader in the home, you may feel you have the “right” to rule over her. And you do in the right context. But don’t forget, you’re also required by God to love her as Christ loved the church. And He always led in humility, by example, and was never forceful or controlling. And yes, a controlling spirit within a husband is also sinful and harmful to his wife and children.
If you want oneness in your marriage, both of you need to come to the place of recognizing your own weaknesses. Guys, it’s much easier for your wife to submit to you when she knows you desire to hear her heart and her cautions.
There have been times when I’ve felt strongly about how to handle a particular situation. But what immediately soaked and diminished my “fire” was when my sweetheart expressed his desire to hear my heart. After that happened, it was no longer imperative which decision is made, because I knew he was hearing me. Considering my thoughts and wishes; which, by the way, doesn’t always mean “doing what I want.”
It’s a dangerous position to be in when you, as a husband, make a decision that affects your family, and your wife doesn’t feel good about it. As the leader in your home, God has given you the responsibility to find that place of agreement where you and your wife can both come to a compromising decision together.
Husbands, you are commanded to love your wife as Christ loved the church. Have you been gently and lovingly leading her or have you been demanding your own way?
Wives, it’s much easier for your husband to show love when you submit to his authority rather than trying to control him. When you were married, your husband wasn’t looking for—or in need of—another “mom” to tell him what to do. He was looking for a companion, a helpmeet. Have you been valuing his leadership? Are you joyfully submitting to him rather than allowing fear to control you?
The best truly is yet to come…You can achieve deep intimacy and oneness in your marriage! But it starts with YOU. You will not be able to change your spouse, but you can begin to change yourself. And remember, a lot of times your spouse simply doesn’t see how he or she is hurting you. If possible, both of you read this blog and—without accusing each other—sit down and begin discussing how you each can take these steps towards a greater oneness.
Your marriage will become stronger, and you will find your relationship with your spouse is one of God’s greatest gifts to you. Happily ever after is possible. But not by chance or default. It’s all dependent on how hard you’re willing to work for it. A marriage is either one of God’s greatest examples of who He is, or it’s one of Satan’s biggest tools to destroy marriages and families. Is your marriage benefitting God or Satan? At what lengths are you willing to fight for the oneness God intends for you to have?
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)