Yesterday I wrote about some big picture stuff that Sandi and I have learned (at times, the hard way) over 25 years of marriage. As I reflected on all of this last week, I drew a couple of pictures attempting to capture the key dynamics. (Expressing ideas through simple images or icons has become a way of life for me in recent years…one of the ways I have been blessed by my friends at 3DM.)
The drawing above is a blown up section of the same image I posted yesterday. I added the heart shape to remind myself about what is most important in our marriage; the covenant reality of two becoming one. The Bible says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24
This is one of the few instances where I like the King James Version of the Bible better, because it includes the wording “leave…and cleave”. So, the process looks like this:
- I leave my father and mother
- I cleave to my wife
- We become one flesh
That will preach! Just sayin’…
From my vantage point, here are the three dynamics that became the super glue for Sandi and me (the heart in the drawing):
- Predictable patterns of UP/IN/OUT
- Shared ownership
- Emotional and physical intimacy
I have already talked about predictable patterns in previous posts, so let’s move on to shared ownership. What do we share ownership of? WE ARE CO-OWNERS AND FULL PARTNERS IN OUR MARRIAGE, OUR FAMILY, AND THE KINGDOM ASSIGNMENT GOD HAS GIVEN US.
These three pursuits require us both to be “ALL IN”. We sink or we swim together – and as we do they become the magnetic field that pulls us toward one another and toward Christ.
Intimacy comes through the emotional bonds we establish and nourish through our friendship and partnership in all of life, and through a healthy and loving sexual relationship. (Don’t worry, I am not going to go all “Dr. Ruth” on you!)
The key learning? Sandi’s need for intimacy is primarily met through emotional connection, which gives her the energy and desire for physical intimacy. I, like many men, am just the opposite. And this dynamic can become a tug-of-war that leaves both of us feeling disconnected and un-loved, or a beautiful picture of grace in motion as we submit and serve one another. (Remember, marriage is a metaphor for the relationship of Christ and his church in the New Testament.)
Like a strong muscle, marriage also requires consistent effort. Here are the ways we WORK HARD to keep connected (see the ropes that span the picture – those are the relational tethers):
- We empower and free one another up for greater success in work and ministry
- We learn to speak one another’s love languages
- We find ways to have fun together – and invest the time and money to make it happen
Did I mention we are going on a cruise in a few weeks? Now that will be fun!