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Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I think there’s common misconception that somehow living as “one-flesh” causes you to lose your sense of self. But I don’t believe that unity is necessarily mutually exclusive with retaining your individuality.

I don’t see that when a man and a woman marry the two individuals leave themselves behind and become part of a new third identity as a married couple. Rather, I believe each brings the fullness of who they are to the marriage, probably including as yet undiscovered aspects of their nature. Skills and talents, personality traits, weaknesses and strength alike all come along for the ride, whether you consciously acknowledge it or not. You get and bring the full package.

The goal of becoming one flesh is not to leave your self and move toward the marriage. That’s the wrong way of thinking about it. Nor is it correct to try to move your spouse away from who they are toward something you believe they should become in order to be an acceptable part of the marriage duo. Of course people will grow and change as they mature over the course of a marriage – that’s a natural part of life, but don’t go into it thinking that you must change yourself or your spouse in order to become one flesh. At least as I see it, that’s not what being one flesh is about.

As I explained in my previous post (Naked Without Shame), being one flesh is not so much about conforming yourself to your spouse, but about bringing the fullness of your self, naked and unashamed, without fear, into the relationship. It also means not casting judgment on your spouse when he/she does the same, but responding instead with love and grace, just like Jesus responds to us in our weakness.

The deepest kind of intimacy happens when you are fully known and fully loved. There’s nothing better.

The unity called for and the intimacy offered by the one-flesh mentality means adding strength to strength, offering strength for weakness, and accepting the same. It means finding and thoroughly enjoying the places where the two of you fit together perfectly, whether that be as compliments or in likeness, and filling in the gaps and conflicts with grace and love as much as possible.

Taking such a view of being one flesh will give your marriage the pliability it takes to survive and thrive over the long haul.

5 comments:

Shannon O | Confessions of a Loving Wife said...

Great post!

I love the way you describe marriage as bringing the fullness of your self, naked and unashamed, without fear, into the relationship.

I don't even think that I could conceive of what it truly meant to bring the fullness of my self to a relationship, prior to being married.

It's something we have to continue to do as we grow and change as people, keep showing up for our spouse and continue to show them who our full self is.

I am grateful that you underline that marriage also means not casting judgment on your spouse when he/she does the same, but responding instead with love and grace.

That is something so critical, but often forgotten in a world where we are often judged as a function of daily life.

Jenni said...

Amen! I definitely have not lost my self, but feel I have found the self I always have been meant to be. There is so much security and trust found in the place of being fully known and fully loved. Okay I wrote the above thinking of our marriage. Now I read it in terms of my relationship with God. Amen!

Newlywed + Unemployed said...

Thank you for this post. From a different perspective, I recently wrote about how I feel like I used to be addicted to my husband. I have always been perfectly willing to give up my own identity, but now I'm actively working on my individuality.

Your post made me think of Constructicons. Does anyone remember those? Several Transformers would join together to create a bigger, stronger Transformer. (Your 'adding strength to strength' line triggered thought.) Individually, the Transformers were great and strong, but together they could accomplish something bigger than them - but the best part is that they could then come apart and still be themselves.

Scott said...

Shannon, I completely agree that staying naked without shame and continuing to bring the fullness of yourself to your marriage is a neverending and ever-challenging process. It goes against our very natures.

Newlywed, I have to admit that I'm addicted to my wife (sent her just those words on IM yesterday!). I find being with her intoxicating. I don't think that wanting and needing and enjoying your spouse is a bad thing, as long as you don't try to be fake in order to try to get the same response from them.

Thanks to both of your for your comments.

fallingintofavor said...

I agree with this: "I don’t see that when a man and a woman marry the two individuals leave themselves behind and become part of a new third identity as a married couple." I've almost been married a year and sometimes I look up and my husband and I are too close. Mainly because we've had only one car for the past 7 months, so we've been taking some space apart. It's a good thing sometimes.

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