In your wedding ceremony, did you use a Unity Candle? If you did, then you and your spouse took the flames from two separate candles to light one single candle. This symbolized your two lives were being united as one. You then blew out the flames of the other two candles to symbolize that your single lives were no longer an option. You were joining in partnership as one together.
We’ve been to a lot of weddings where this was ceremonially done. It’s very touching when you see it. Everyone more-or-less understands what the meaning is behind this ritual. But a few questions come to mind that Dr Gary Smalley asks in his book, One Flame … How to Weather the Five Winds in Your Marriage.
United As One
• “If you lit the flame of unity candle during your wedding, is your flame of oneness still burning brightly? In other words, do you feel a deep sense of oneness in your marriage today?
• “Do you feel safe and satisfied with a deep intimacy that you both enjoy?
• “Are you as happily married as you would like to be?”
Gary goes on to say:
“If you used the unity candle in your wedding, did you understand what you were doing?
“Norma and I used it, but I’m not certain I understood the meaning behind the lighting ceremony at the time. Now that I do understand it, I believe that within this simple ceremony lie the secrets to a better marriage.
“The greatest secret of all is oneness. It’s the ability to let go of our single status and join together with our spouse for all of life. …The lack of oneness causes many people to suffer in relationships that are neither rewarding nor uplifting. The problem is that these people are more devoted to their own flame of self than to the one flame they share together as a married couple.”
Have you seen this happen in other couple’s lives? Perhaps you’ve living it now in your own marriage. We’ve been there ourselves and grieve when we think of how much we hurt each other. We challenge you (and ourselves) to do what we can so we can be united as one.
More Thoughts on Being United
We’d like to share a few more thoughts that Dr Gary Smalley gives in this book. We won’t be able to give you information on all “Five Winds” but hopefully, we can share enough to help to light a spark in your own marriage. Gary goes on to write:
“Here is the best marriage secret I’ve learned in thirty years. The oneness in marriage is maintained not in the absence of arguments and conflict, but in the way couples learn how to argue. Respected marriage experts Howard Markman, Scott Stanley, and Susan Blumberg have found that what keeps couples happily married for a lifetime is not how much they love each other or how much they are committed. What keeps them happily married is how they handle arguments. Plus it involves how they blend together as a team throughout their married life. And the way to argue correctly is to gear solutions toward your position as a couple, not your position as a single person.”
Later in the book, Gary also writes:
“Open communication begins by making a commitment never to bury the issues. You cannot have a brightly burning flame of oneness if you are hiding emotions, feelings, and circumstances from the other person… If you are letting outside distractions deter you from truly listening to your spouse, it may be time to check your priorities. No television program is worth making your spouse bury his or her feelings. This is especially true when unresolved anger is such a destructive wind in marriage.”
Dr Smalley also talks about the importance of honoring your spouse:
“I have found it very helpful to keep what I call a journal of honor. In it I write down the reasons I value God and the reasons I value Norma. My wife’s perfectionism —a quality that caused friction in the early days of our marriage —is not high on the list of assets that I consider priceless. In my journal of honor, I have more than five pages full of reasons why my wife is so valuable to me. I keep the list close at hand. And I often tell her why I value her. It is the one way I can honor her.
“I encourage you to start such a journal. Start by writing about God. Tell Him why you value and highly esteem Him and love Him more than anyone or anything else. Then move on to the reasons you value and honor your spouse. When you start your list, write down every good thing you can think of. Then add to the list regularly. List the reasons why your spouse is important to you, why his or her uniqueness is valuable. Write in your journal of honor at least once a month, and set aside time to share the contents with your spouse.”
A Display of Unity
And one final thing we’d like to share with you that Gary wrote on this subject of unity that you might consider doing in your own marriage:
“One couple I know lights the unity candle on their six-month and yearly anniversaries. They read the Scripture passages they chose for their wedding ceremony. And then they reflect on God’s goodness. They talk about how their marriage has grown or been challenged in the past six months or year. Often these discussions lead them to ask for and receive forgiveness from each other.
“Sometimes the couple sets goals for the coming six months or year to set a direction for their relationship. They hold each other accountable for the things they decide are important. Then they pray together and commit themselves once more to their vows and to being a couple. Other people use the unity-candle display in their home as a conversations starter with their children and guests. The candles have sparked some fruitful discussions about the meaning of marriage and the couples’ commitment to oneness.”
We hope these statements by Dr Smalley have been helpful to spark ideas of your own. May they help you to be pro-active in drawing closer together in unity. May you work to reveal and reflect the heart of Christ in your marriage for all to see.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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