“That’s why a man will leave his own father and mother. He marries a woman, and the two of them become like one person” Genesis 2:24 (CEV).
This seems like a simple guideline in Scripture: You get married and become just like one person – thinking similar thoughts, living in perfect harmony, coming to argument-free agreement. Anyone married more than a week knows that it’s not that simple, and it’s definitely not without challenges. So how are we going to live out this commission from Scripture that two shall become one?
Although we were born on the exact same day and year, we are very different people. We both came from homes that were broken for various and different reasons, so our experiences and views of marriage were vastly different. For Charlene’s family, birthdays were celebrated with a lot of fanfare. There was a party, cake, ice cream, and lots of presents.
Allan’s family had a whole different perspective. Because his parents separated when he was young there wasn’t much emphasis on family milestones. He received only a phone call and maybe a card from his dad. Although the love was there, it was expressed differently.
These types of different experiences and expectations can lead to barriers in a relationship. To overcome these barriers, Allan has learned to give Charlene birthday presents and Charlene has taught Allan about the value of chocolate cake (or anything chocolate).
Throughout our 17 years of marriage, we both have had to remove barriers and build bridges to oneness. But how do you do that in today’s busy life? We all have work, church commitments, children and all their activities. When and how do you make time for God and your spouse? It has been said that people make time for what is important to them; however, the urgent sometimes gets in the way.
Here are some common barriers to oneness that couples experience:
Barriers to Oneness:
- Concentrating on your spouse’s weaknesses. In most marriages one spouse’s weaknesses are the other’s strengths and vice versa.
- Putting children, hobbies and work before each other and God. Proverbs 14:12 reminds us that our own ways and pursuits may seem logical and practical but they may not be God’s ways for us.
- Wherever there’s a barrier, there’s an opportunity to build a bridge
Bridges to Oneness:
- Embrace your differences and know God made you the way you are for a reason: Remember you were both made in God’s image (Gen 1:27) and because “we [each] are God’s workmanship” (Eph 2:10 NIV), we should treat each other as a gift from God.
- Prioritize your time with God through dedicated prayer/quiet time and with your spouse through regular date nights: As we are told in Matthew 6:21, “Where ever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” We must treasure our relationship with God and our spouses.
In our relationship, Allan is very diplomatic and analytical, while Charlene is more emotional and feeling-driven. To build a bridge for our differences Allan has chosen to be more spontaneous, and Charlene has learned to step back momentarily before jumping headfirst into things. It is not always easy to make these adjustments, but it is vital to the long-term success of the marriage.
The bridge builder we use to prioritize our time together is to schedule regular date times. This has proven to keep the excitement and closeness in our relationship. Since we both have varied schedules, we look at our schedules weekly to set up a time that works best. We might have a lunch date one week, dinner another, and play nine holes of golf the next. Our time focused on each other is precious and productive, no matter when it is.
Another great tool we’ve found to break down barriers and build bridges in our marriage relationship is found in the principles Gary Chapman presents in “The Five Love Languages.” We’ve learned that each of us communicates love in one of five unique ways. Knowing how we show love, and how our spouse expects us to show love, can keep our “love tank” full. Allan’s primary love language is “words of affirmation” and Charlene’s is “acts of service.” One simple way Allan shows love for Charlene is by vacuuming the house. Charlene sends Allan encouraging emails, notes or a text message to let him know he is important.
God’s word commissions us as a married couple to become as one. By choosing to build bridges instead of barriers, we can all create relationships that are more joy-filled and productive. With God as the uniting link in our marriage relationships, no barrier can block our success.