God knew that we needed a clear path towards true intimacy.
Over the course of the past several years, I have worked with dozens of married couples. They range in age from early twenties up through late sixties. Some have been married for just a few weeks, others for the better part of five decades.
As a marriage therapist, I often view marriages like music. Each individual brings a certain musical instrument to the relationship. On their own, they can each make amazing music. God has designed every person with a unique melody, gifting, style and tempo. As these two people come together, however, making harmonious music takes practice, purpose and patience. Yet God has given us three clear movements that, when made intentionally and graciously, can produce one of the world’s most beautiful relational symphonies.
Consider Genesis 2:24:
A man shall leave his father and mother,
be united to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.
Movement #1: LEAVE
In the ancient near east, “leaving” did not necessarily mean creating geographical distance. It did not mean moving out of the house. In many cases, it did not even mean separating financially or vocationally from one’s parents. For most, one’s livelihood was deeply tied to the family – a certain plot of land for crops, a particular set of tools for tailoring, blacksmithing, etc. Money did not often permit a newly married couple to build a new home. Often they would simply add on a room to the already-existing structure.
Leaving has far more to do with a spiritual and psychological departure. As a new “family,” the couple “leaves” the spiritual authority of the previous home, and establishes a new identity apart from parents or past. This involves leaving past names, past emotional traumas, past patterns, and past identities.
For many couples today, this leaving process has been truncated and misunderstood. “Moving out” has come to be understood as leaving, but the true spiritual and emotional separation has not occurred. MOST marital issues emerge from not leaving well.
Movement #2: WEAVE
Once a couple has left, they need to establish a new identity. Just as a tapestry is woven together, so too the newly married couple needs to weave a life together. This happens primarily through communication, time together, sharing of one’s values, perspectives and dreams. Weaving is the process of uniting together. For some, the weave is colorful and adventurous. For others, the weave is patterned and predictable. The resulting tapestry represents the couple’s interwoven connectedness, and reveals God’s uniquenesses to the world.
Movement #3: CLEAVE
Sex. Plain and simple. God designed the ultimate inter-relationality of marriage to be consummated in sexual union. “They shall become one flesh.” This is a physical representation of what has happened spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally. The vulnerability and connection that occurs during intimacy is the mutual surrendering of that which is most deeply personal – one’s body.
Our world today has cheapened sexuality to such a degree that it has lost its power and meaning. Nowadays, most couples jump into bed together before moving through the leaving and weaving stages of relationship. When this happens, it short-circuits God’s design for safety, beauty and pleasure because the separation and internal connectedness has not been adequately established.
As you consider your own marriage, ask yourself these questions:
- How emotionally connected are you and your spouse?
- In what ways have you “left” your past as you entered marriage?
- Do you find yourself still tied to your parents or past traumas?
- How have you and your spouse created a new “tapestry” for life and love?
- Can you clearly articulate what your marriage values are? Can your spouse? Are they the same?
- Does sexual intimacy represent the depth of your relationship?
- In what ways do you long for more in your marriage?
- Do you have hope?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
CHRIS BRUNO: Together with my wife and our three rambunctious children, we find ways to get outdoors as often as possible. When not on the trail, I can often be found with a book and either a cup of dark roasted coffee or a good microbrew. For more about me, CLICK HERE.