It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today we’re going to talk about what it means to feel like you’re one–how you have a “one flesh marriage”.
Last week, on Wifey Wednesday, we were talking about things we wished we had known before we were married. And my guest, Christine Pembleton, said that she wished that she had known that you wouldn’t feel like “one flesh” right away. That takes time.
Her statement started a discussion in the comments section, since as one woman correctly pointed out, spiritually we are automatically one upon marriage, based on the verse:
And the man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Absolutely. They are one. But that doesn’t mean that we FEEL like we’re one, which is what Christine was trying to say. So I want to take up that discussion today. She wasn’t talking about sex so much–although sex is certainly a part of a one flesh marriage (and I’ve written a ton about sex in marriage!). She was talking more about that feeling that we’re a unit, that we’re in this together, that we really are one. And that can be hard.
Before we are married, we only have ourselves to worry about.
We don’t have to consider another’s feelings; we’re all bent on making decisions that will make ME happy. I am the focus of my life.
At marriage, that feeling naturally continues. When we’re first married, we start to wonder, “is he making me happy?”, or “is he treating me well?”, “is he acting like a good husband should?”. We’re new at this, so it’s only natural that we should question whether he’s doing what he’s supposed to. After all, we have images of what being the proper wife is, and we’re doing that, but is he holding up his end of the bargain?
We’re focused on what he is doing, not what we are doing, because we’re used to giving ourselves a pass.
We can always find reasons why it was okay for us not to be giving in that particular situation. We can always justify ourselves. But our husbands are a different matter.
The other issue, I think, is a gender one. Deep inside we want him to make the first move. So if we feel like he’s not treating us appropriately, we may withdraw and wait for him to make it up. And we think that’s okay because he’s supposed to treat us better than that.
What we don’t see is what he is feeling.
Chances are he’s just as disillusioned about this “one flesh” thing as we are, because he had expectations going into the marriage, too, that aren’t being met.
And while this situation is quite typical for many newly married couples, whether or not it keeps going on is up to us. Because for many couples, this is the constant state. For decades this is how they relate to each other: judgment, justification, resentment, withholding. It’s all about my feelings and my rights.
And so we face a choice. Our husbands will always disappoint us because they are not US. They don’t have the same opinions or values or expectations, so they can never live up to ours. So what are we going to do: are we going to continue this cycle, or are we going to become one?
The ball, I think, is in your court. Don’t wait for your husband to act.
But here is the key to turning on this “oneness”–this one flesh marriage: understand that his feelings are now your feelings.
His cares are now your cares. His concerns are now your concerns. Spiritually, that is a fact. And when we recognize the spiritual fact, we can start to act on it. And when we act on it, we may eventually start to feel it.
He doesn’t need to justify his feelings; they are his feelings. And now that you are married, they should matter to you just as much as yours do. It matters when he’s upset. Don’t try to get him to justify it or talk him out it; be concerned about it. Because when he’s upset, part of you is upset. It matters if he feels lonely or frustrated, because that means you are lonely and frustrated.
If you can start putting as much weight on his feelings as you do yours, or even 50% as much weight on his feelings, you’ll likely find that your marriage will improve exponentially, because you’re reaching out.
We women are very good at DOING things for other people, but we often keep our hearts in reserve.
We may do all the laundry, and cook him nice meals, but we do it on our terms, not his. Sometimes it’s harder to feel than to do. And as a wife, his feelings and cares do matter.
When you start valuing those, he’s likely to reach out to you more. And as he reaches out to you, you are going to start feeling like one. It doesn’t happen overnight. And I’m not saying you should accept sin, or not confront him on things that are important. I’m only saying that his viewpoint counts, and you need to give it the weight it deserves. Then, and only then, will you begin to feel like you’re in a one flesh marriage.