faith · family · life · marriage

marriage: it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful (part three)

In the previous posts, marriage: it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful (part one) and marriage: it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful (part two) we looked at the history of marriage and what it means to be called my husband’s helper.  Today we’ll consider the special oneness of marriage. We have been studying this passage:

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.
So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.
Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Earlier we focused on the first verse.  Today, I’ll be moving on to verses 21-24:

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.
Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Notice that woman was not created from the dust of the earth as Adam was. She was part of Adam.  Adam was part of her.  We share the same creative origin, again, we are equal—one blood even (as mentioned in Acts 17:26).

I love what the Believer’s Bible Commentary has to say on this:

His bride was formed from one of his ribs, taken from his side as he slept. So from Christ’s side, His Bride was secured as He shed His life’s blood in untold agony. Woman was taken not from Adam’s head to dominate him, nor from his feet to be trodden down, but from under his arm to be protected, and from near his heart to be loved.

What a precious picture we are given: the special relationship between husband and wife, and also the relationship of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Continuing on:  “He brought her to the man.” Eve was God’s gift to Adam! Adam understood the significance and he named her ‘woman,’ taken from man.  She was a part of him from the outset. The two were one, joined together to become one flesh.

We see that God makes us one in marriage. It is a unique relationship where two people freely give themselves to each other. In doing so, one leaves his family to establish a new family unit, with its own responsibility before God to fulfill His purposes. Over dependence on parents can be quite destructive to a marriage. I like the KJV wording of “leave and cleave.” Once that new family unit is created we are to cleave: hold on to each other and don’t let go! We are choosing to love, to commit, a covenant to make this work.

“They shall become one flesh.” This is oneness beyond simply being together, in the presence of one another. ‘One’ is compound oneness, unique individuals but also uniquely one. What are some aspects of this oneness?

The most obvious, perhaps, would be intimacy. Intimacy is a gift from God. The immorality of today’s view of intimacy has distorted its sacredness, to be sure. But it is important that in our shunning of the world’s practices that we are not skewing its wonders either. 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 talks about this very thing:

Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Intimacy takes the marriage relationship beyond the surface of other relationships and lifts it to a completely different level. That’s why it is intended to be reserved for marriage. It is sacred and important. We are told here that our bodies are not our own–and vice versa. They now belong to our husbands and we should not withhold sex from our husbands (nor the other way around) without good reason and only by agreement. This shows just how important it is to a healthy marriage. Sex should never be used in a manipulative way. It should never be approached as a ‘giving in’, but as a purposeful act of uniting. Of course, intimacy changes with our seasons of life. In the early years of marriage and young love, it is much different than during the tired baby years. Mature love and health issues all affect what intimacy looks like in marriage. It’s not solely sex, by the way, but touching, holding hands, listening, hugging and kissing, and being intentionally present. Our husbands need this connection, and so do we.

The reality is that sometimes I feel inadequate, unlovely. These feelings are from the enemy. God made me the way I am…granted some things have not fared as well as others, sometimes from poor habits. Regardless, I need to shed the shame and inhibitions that may prevent a loving and satisfying physical relationship with my husband and reclaim the beauty of who God made me. I should accept compliments from my husband without blowing them off. A few years ago, I heard a message on the radio from Proverbs 31 Ministry, I believe. She shared how she was convicted about this very thing. She realized that accepting a compliment from her husband was an important example for her daughters. If she doubted her husband’s compliments, how would her girls trust their father’s compliments to them? Besides, if I am always rebuffing his admiration, he may stop altogether. I wouldn’t be happy about that either!  I’m obviously an impossibly hard woman to please!  It’s true, as well, that our husbands want to be appreciated for who they are. When they are always the initiator, it may make them feel inadequate or unloved.

Too often, I relegate the sloppiness, grumpiness, the dregs of my day and myself for my family. My husband deserves more than that. I should be ready to greet him warmly, not with a “Good you’re home, I gotta get outta here!” After I’ve had a chance to connect with him, then I can run! When my mom was young she remembers that her mother would always stop her work around 3:00, shower and dress nicely for my grandfather before he came home. Was this necessary? No, but I’m sure he wasn’t complaining when he came home to a tidy house, a lovely meal, and a wife who had eyes only for him. I’m not saying I must be perfectly coiffed, dressed in pearls and heels, I’m saying that I should not take the stresses of my day out on my husband or family….talk about it later when we’ve both been refreshed and are less frazzled.  I want my home to be his shelter, I want to show him I care about him, about us.

Another aspect of oneness, of unity, is trust. This verse in Proverbs 31 always makes me cringe just a little.

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. ~Proverbs 31:10-12

Oh boy…is my husband’s heart safe with me? Can my husband be open and honest about his struggles, about his desires, about his frustrations (even with me) without fear of reprisal, knowing that I will listen and I will show God’s grace? Can he trust me to give him the benefit of the doubt? Can he trust me to do him good and not evil? Do I complain to others, perhaps leading to gossip and harming his reputation? Do I expect him to be someone he’s not? I want my husband to trust me.

I need boundaries in my marriage when it comes to the opposite sex. There should be no secrets when it comes to emails, Facebook, or calls. It is a good practice to avoid being alone with someone of the opposite sex, of speaking privately with them.  The Bible tells us to ‘avoid all appearance of evil,’ not only for our spouses’ sake, but for our testimony before others.

Trust is vital in a healthy marriage. It cultivates intimacy. Lack of trust builds barriers. But what if I am struggling with trusting him? I must seek God and His Word first; mend the brokenness in the relationship by forgiving him, if necessary. If I deal with past hurts, it will bring freedom and these trials will become triumphs. I know someone who had a rather serious issue with her husband. She struggled to forgive him and trust him again, even though he was broken before her, seeking forgiveness from her and from God. She felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to go to him as he was in a state of pure grief. She didn’t want to–at first she refused. But as the Spirit became more insistent she knelt at his feet and held his hand. The road ahead was difficult, but she bridged that gap to finding full restoration.

The lines of communication must be kept open. I must learn to “fight fair”. Anger is natural but I am commanded not to sin in my anger. Yikes. No yelling, belittling, blaming. We need to be talking things through. It may take time to resolve an issue, but don’t ignore it and let it fester. Take it to God; leave it there with him, resisting the impulse to grab it back.

Remember, that Christ needs to be an integral part of our marriage, promoting unity.  It is good to spend time with Him together.  Praying, reading, discussing spiritual matters. It is hard to stay angry with someone you are praying with!

You’ll notice that we haven’t specifically talked about love. Love as prescribed in I Corinthians 13 should always be our objective. We touched on many characteristics of love along our journey here. If I am to love my neighbour, it goes without saying that I am to love my husband. The same is true for the mandate to love my enemies. Love is demonstrated in actions. I must make sure I’m showing him. Sometimes we need to look beyond the obvious to see our husbands saying I love you. Often he says it through his actions. I shared this story here, but it bears repeating in this context. My Love used to travel for work a lot—like 2-3 days every week. One day, one of my girls wondered if he’d left without saying goodbye. I responded, “No, he’ll be right back. He’s just saying I love you.” She was completely baffled. I explained that he always made sure I had a full tank of gas, windshield wiper fluid, and air in my tires before he left. He was showing me how much he loved me. Sisters, don’t dwell on the he doesn’ts, he won’ts, or I wish he woulds…Love the man you chose to marry. Look for the beauty beyond the imperfections. Remember that “love covers a multitude of sins.” Let God do his work in you and in him to make you both and your marriage beautiful. I know I will continue to be a wannabe. I know I will fail miserably all too often. I know God will continue to manifest his awesome power in my weakness as I strive to be that crown for my husband. I know that God is in the business of giving beauty for ashes. And I am thankful.

As a final thought, I came across this on the internet some time ago, and thought it was quite fitting in demonstrating what God can do with the imperfections, the broken pieces of our marriage and our lives. What a stunning example of “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

fukushima-wheel-reinvent-the-wheel-5-638

I also made these bookmarks for the ladies at our retreat.  Feel free to print them off for yourself.  If you have any trouble, you can contact me and I’ll send you the pdf.

 

 

 

 

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