We’ve been to a number of weddings that include lighting a Unity Candle, which 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 is it that the “we” breaks apart even though they don’t intend for that to happen?
Steve and I (Cindy) have to confess that what we promised became a distant memory as life began sliding us apart after the wedding. For some reason it never even occurred to us that we would need to be intentional in developing a “we” after we married. We felt pretty united before the wedding and thought that would just progressively grow closer. But that’s not what happened. Sadly, that’s what appears to happen with a lot of couples.
When the WE Breaks Apart
It’s not that we have to stop being a “him” and a “her” completely on our wedding day, but if our individual behavior causes problems within our marriage union we need to work on it together. If we don’t, that’s when the “WE” breaks apart. Otherwise, what was the purpose of marrying in the first place? Isn’t the objective of marrying to unite even closer together in love, as a marital team?
The following is a portion of what Dr David Ludwig writes on the subject, “Think We, Not Me” from the book, “Lovers for Life.” This book (which unfortunately, is no longer being published) has many contributing authors, which David Ludwig is one of them. He writes:
Think We, Not Me
“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 Marital “One” Breaks 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.’
When “We” Breaks Apart
“The deep spiritual meaning of this passage is to make the ‘we’ more important than the ‘me.’ When your feelings are hurt and you’re 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)
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)
Steve and Cindy Wright
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