Are you finding it difficult to get to a place of marital unity? If your answer is yes, then you’re not alone. It’s very common to have to fight your way to stay united. But if your answer is that you are in a good place, YAY! We’re thrilled for you. However, we caution you not to rest on your laurels.
Your wedding vows to unite as one was meaningful to recite; but it was just the beginning. There’s more to the journey. Being united is not a “once done always done” thing. Oh, how we and everyone who loves you wish it was!
“When you got married the joy and unity you declared was shared by everyone present. You pronounced your vows. Your commitment to each other was ’till death do us part.’ And heaven rejoiced. At the same time that you declared your unity in Christ as a couple, hell gnashed its collective teeth. A war was mustered against your marriage. Satan and his minions began their work to divide once the unity God had created.
“You see, as Christians you and your spouse are bearers of God’s glory. You have been given the very thing Satan desired and that caused his expulsion from Heaven. As Christ followers, you two are a visible picture to a watching world of Jesus’ relationship with the Church. Your unity depicts His relationship with His Bride.
“As such, if the Enemy can break the unity of your marriage through disunity, separation, or divorce he mars the reflection of God’s glory through you. When he divides you, he discredits the message of Jesus to those watching.” (Brad & Heidi Mitchell, from their article, “Four Keys in the Fight for Unity in Marriage“)
The bottom line is that you have a lot that works against your marital unity—personality and background differences, but especially spiritual attacks. But don’t let that defeat you! Marital unity IS possible! It’s just that you have to be proactive to get there (and keep getting there). That’s why we titled this, “Getting to a Place” of spiritual unity. Your unity is continually under attack. But it’s worth the fight to “get” to that place.
“By definition marriage requires that two distinct entities become one. No matter how much in love we are, making two individuals into a single unit isn’t an easy task. The marriage ceremony doesn’t magically erase differences between husband and wife, nor does it cancel our selfish natures. Married harmony requires the acceptance that conflict will occur, plus a commitment to ongoing reconciliation—for a lifetime.” (Ellyn Sanna)
That’s something that many marriage counselors and mentors have to teach those who are struggling in their marriages. We read the following recently and agree with the counselor’s reconciliation method:
Becoming One in Marital Unity
“A married couple came to a counselors office, seeking guidance. ‘We’ve been married only six months, but we’re starting to fight all the time,’ said the husband. ‘She says I don’t do enough to help her.’
‘You never look after my interests!’ said the wife heatedly. ‘The only thing you care about us what you need.’ After listening to this for about half an hour, the counselor gave them one suggestion. ‘Each of you write down what you feel you need out of this marriage and out of your life.’
The couple did this, and the counselor continued: ‘Exchange lists. Margaret, your job is to primarily focus on Tim’s list and assist him in any way to meet his goals and needs. Tim, you do the same with Margaret’s list. Forget your own list; let your spouse be the primary caretaker of your own needs and goals.’
They agreed reluctantly and left. Two weeks later, they returned. After hearing what they had to say, the counselor told them, ‘You’re right on track. Call me if you need me.’
But Did They?
… That was twenty-five years ago. Now they are celebrating a very successful marriage and their anniversary with their four children and many friends. The secret to their unity? Taking the other person’s needs, feelings, and desires unto themselves.
Unity in marriage is wonderful when it happens, but it’s often difficult to achieve. Unity among believers can be even more elusive, Believers differ, disagree, hurt each other’s feelings, fight about issues and problems. The key to becoming one lies in Jesus’ prayer to His Father for all believers: ‘that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me‘ (see: John 17:22-23). (From The Women’s Devotional Bible)
The scriptures in Philippians 2:3-4 also comes to mind:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.“
We come to a place of marital unity by putting each other’s needs above our own. We cheer each other on and become God’s colleagues in showing each other love and preference.
“One of the elements of God’s rule is His heart for oneness, also known as unity. Unity can be defined in its simplest of terms as oneness of purpose. It is working together in harmony toward a shared vision and goal.” (Tony Evans)
Marriage Partnership Truth
Preaching.com Staff wrote the following about marital unity that is so, very true:
“Marriage is not just about sharing a home or a last name; it is about becoming each other’s greatest cheerleaders and pillars of strength. Ecclesiastes 4:10 reminds us, ‘If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.‘ In the journey of life, we all stumble and face challenges. However, in the sacred bond of marriage, we find solace and unwavering support. Through this mutual support, we gain strength, resilience, and the assurance that we are never alone. As you two embark on this lifelong commitment, remember that you are not just two individuals but a united team.”
That is something that we continually remind each other. One of us will go off doing things that cause division between us. That’s when the other will say our infamous line, “We ARE partners here, aren’t we? These actions don’t say that we are.” And that’s when we have to work to realign some things.
Robert C. Dodds said, “The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” And that’s true! We won’t always think alike or do everything together, but we can make sure that our words and actions do not cause marital division. We realign, realign, and realign some more as we travel our journey together towards marital unity. Sometimes the journey can be really, really tough.
Marital Unity to God’s Glory
“The challenges of life can be mountainous. With enough suffering to dismantle ten marriages, Charles and Susannah (a couple that author Tim Savage refers to in his book) persevered and enjoyed many triumphs. How did they do it? What was their secret? They were sustained in their climb not in the first instance by pithy advice but by a perspective that ‘reigned in [their] hearts.’ It was the assurance that their ‘Guide’ was able to convey them safely past the crags and crevices of life. And so they held on to him. They fixed their eyes on his glory.
… But what does this mean? Where do we find divine glory? God’s glory was clearly evident within the first marriage itself. In other words, the inaugural couple did not have to look far to find God’s glory: it was radiating within their marriage. They needed only to cherish that glory, nurture it, and give it free reign in their lives. They needed to live for God’s glory. We must do the same thing. With the shared resolve of both partners, we must live for the glory of God.” (From the book, “No Ordinary Marriage” by Tim Savage)
A great step in this mission is to pray for each other and with each other (whenever possible).
Prayer for Marital Unity:
In closing, here is a prayer, written by the Prayerist (written in the article, “Prayer for Unity in Marriage”), that we encourage you to pray (as we have):
“Dear Heavenly Father,
We pray for a deeper understanding of each other. We’ve been together for a while, but we’re two different people who do things in two different ways. And so we ask that You’d give us the strength to be flexible when we need to be, and give us the patience to handle our emotions wisely.
Help us to be good listeners who are sensitive to the needs of each other. May our differences sharpen each other to grow stronger in faith, and challenge each other to consider new things. Bind us together in unity, and use our differences to strengthen that bond.
In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
We hope and pray that you take all of this seriously, and join the Lord in the mission of becoming one in marital unity. May you stand together as a “cord of three strands.”
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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