4 Guidelines To Keeping Your Identity In Marriage
For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. Ephesians 5:31
Have you ever stood on the banks of two great rivers and watched them merge? When two rivers come together, there is a great deal of turbulence before the waters flow smoothly. That’s the way it often is when two become one and forge a new family.
In the second chapter of the book of Genesis, the story is recorded how God created man, but he was lonely so God took a rib from the side of Adam and created a companion for him. Then Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24 NASB).
Did you notice that God didn’t say, “You are one flesh…” but rather “you become one flesh”? That becoming is the interweaving of habits, cultures, backgrounds, customs and a whole lot more. When you marry, you bring a large gunnysack with you—it is your genes and chromosomes, your heredity, your background, and the ideas that you have grown up with regarding marriage and family living. Like threads woven into a tapestry, the interweaving of two lives is not always smooth and without problems.
A lot of women today are coming to marriage with a whole different mindset from that of their mothers a generation ago. Having grown up in a different world, some women today are dreadfully afraid of losing their own identity and independence. Subsequently, when husbands attempt to provide nurturing and care, they withdraw intent on remaining aloof and strong. At the same time more than a few men, having grown up without very positive role models apart from the ones they see on TV and in the movies, don’t know how to treat a woman. Sometimes they tend to treat her as his dad treated his mother, which wasn’t even good a generation ago. Everybody loses when this happens.
In merging two lives Guideline #1 is: Discover the biblical pattern and norm for a relationship. The counsel and advice of Scripture was given‑‑not to make us miserable or to strip either of us individuality or personality–but to help us understand how real fulfillment can take place. The blueprint still works, but make sure that you go to the original and discover for yourself the part God wants you to play in the drama of family living.
Guideline #2: Respect differences that may exist by virtue of your background and culture. Don’t insist on winning every round, or spending every Christmas and Easter with your family, or suggesting that the habits or the way things were done in your mate’s family are weird. Rather, develop your own traditions and special events. Celebrate your relationship as you incorporate the best from the past as well.
Guideline #3: Communicate the feelings of your heart without making light of your mate or how she or he really thinks! Part of effective communication is the ability to listen with understanding and ponder what you don’t agree with or fully understand. Prayer is a powerful force in bringing two people to a deeper understanding of themselves and each other.
Guideline #4: Compromise because you care. Often thought of as surrender, compromise in marriage isn’t surrender‑‑it is moving towards each other because you care.
Resource reading: Ephesians 5:22-31.