Have you ever been to a wedding where the marrying couple lights a “Unity” candle? The premise of lighting this candle is to symbolize two individual lives becoming “one” after the ceremony. But do they? From that day forward, do they start behaving as if they’re united as a marital team as they pledge they will? Or does the “we” start breaking apart after the wedding?
We confess that what we promised became a distant memory after the wedding. From that day forward, life started to push us apart in all of its busyness. It never even occurred to us that we would need to be intentional in developing a “we” after we married. We felt so close to each other before the wedding that we assumed we would just progressively grow closer. We were wrong. And sadly, multitudes of other couples grab onto that same wrong assumption.
When the “WE” is Breaking Apart
So to help us do what it takes to build a great marriage partnership, we are sharing something that Dr David Ludwig writes on this matter. He is a contributing author to the book, Lovers for Life: Strengthening and Preserving Your Marriage compiled by Kenneth C. Musko. Dr Ludwig’s particular chapter is titled, “Think We, Not Me.”
Here is a portion of what Dr Ludwig writes:
“Think of the last time the mood shifted between the two of you. Perhaps it was last night when Mother called, or when you talked about money. Let me guess who you blamed for your frustration and internal upset. It wasn’t yourself, so you blamed the only other person you could see, right?
“Well, you made a critical error! Neither of you controls the mood of your relationship. The ‘we’ controls the atmosphere! When the two of you are allies and your spirits are united, the mood is uplifting and friendly. But when the ‘we’ breaks down and you are at odds with each other, the mood shifts to turbulent and upsetting. When you harbor resentment toward each other, a bad mood settles into the relationship.
“No wonder Paul advises, ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4:3). He uses even stronger language in Philippians 2:1-2, ‘If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.’
When Our Marital “One” is Breaking Apart
“When you are ‘one in spirit,’ you have a safe place with each other. The mood is friendly, and you are allies. You are a ‘we’ and are working together. It is safe to share your thoughts and feelings with each other. You can be ‘soul mates.’
“But when the ‘we’ breaks down, it’s no longer safe! You’re defensive and guarded. The relationship splits into ‘you’ and ‘me.’ There is no one in charge, and the atmosphere becomes uncertain and confusing. Both of you get your feelings hurt and end up upset and angry with each other. Since you cannot see the ‘we,’ you blame each other for the hurt and frustration. You think, If only he/she would not react that way. Then you spend your energy trying to change the other person.
“But the other person is not to blame! You cannot see the ‘we,’ but it does control the spirit (mood) of the relationship. When this ‘one another’ breaks down, the mood shifts. No wonder the apostle Paul uses the words one another so often: ‘Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ’ (Ephesians 5:21). The ‘one another’ is the ‘we.’
Breaking Apart the “WE”
“The deep spiritual meaning of this passage is to make the ‘we’ more important than the ‘me.’ When your feelings are hurt and you are upset, it’s natural to nurse hurt feelings and seek to get even. Both of these actions put the ‘me’ as more important than the ‘we.’
“So how do you do the ‘unnatural’ and put the ‘we’ above your own hurt and upset? The answer is in the aforementioned verse: ‘out of reverence for Christ.’ The Holy Spirit can change your attitude at this critical moment. Christ’s presence has the power to change your heart and mind to make this shift from ‘me” to “we.’
“As you pray, ‘Lord, help my spirit; help change my attitude,’ His Spirit will be at work in your heart to change reality. Call this a ‘reality check.’ Right in the midst of your desire to nurse your hurt feelings, Christ will remind you of His love and of your love for one another. This will help to put the relationship in its proper place. The ‘we’ will become more important than the ‘me.’
Your Reality Check
“The next time the mood shifts and you are left confused, hurt and upset, try the following steps:
1. Become aware that the ‘we’ just broke down.
2. Stop blaming the other person.
3. Assume that there has been a misunderstanding.
4. Offer a prayer to get your attitude right.
5. Approach the other person in the right spirit.
6. Begin by saying, ‘WE have a problem. Let’s talk.’
“Don’t think this is easy! It is highly unnatural. It is more natural to assume that the other person is to blame. This is what puts the ‘me’ above the ‘we.’ So don’t overlook the importance of bringing Christ into the equation. His love changes reality. His presence can make the ‘we’ more important than the ‘me.’
“Put the following on your refrigerator door or bathroom mirror:
“SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER OUT OF REVERENCE TO CHRIST.”
As Jesus said:
“At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10:6-9)
When it comes to being united, keep in mind that WE, as individuals, can be the ones who contribute to breaking apart the “WE” that God does not want us to separate.
May you be intentional in continually working to be united in every important area of your married lives together.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 15:5-6)
Cindy and Steve Wright
To Help You Further:
Is the “we” in your marriage breaking apart? Dr Corey Allen from the Simple Marriage ministry calls marriage a “people-growing machine.” He says, “That’s the way it’s designed.” We agree. You will never agree about everything. However, you can work together to get to agreeable places that you both can live with in marriage partnership. God uses marriage as one of His vehicles to grow us up in maturity. Marriage is about grow up time. It’s one where we don’t look to our single concerns, but look beyond them in partnership with another human being.
If you are feeling disconnected from each other in your marital partnership please look around this web site to find articles and videos you can read and view to help you. Here are a few topics we recommend to start you on this journey: • Romantic Ideas • Communication and Conflict and • Grow Your Marriage, just to name a few. Look around and see what you can find to help you.
But if your marital partnership is breaking apart, here are some articles we encourage you to read. You will find them in the SAVE MY MARRIAGE TOPIC (which we recommend you look through, as well):
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Filed under: Marriage Insights