This is the essence of marriage, a husband and wife, clinging together.
Aaron Sironi delivered his general session at the CCEF conference entitled: For Better or For Worse: Emotions in Marriage. He challenged us to approach marriage counseling from the perspective of encouraging Biblical clinging.
Aaron explained that emotions in marriage are powerful. They can tear a couple apart or bring them closely together. Emotions can invite compassion and create intimacy. Unspoken questions that undergird a couple’s relationships may include:
- Are you there for me when I need you?
- Are you moved to compassion to care for me?
- Do I really matter to you?
- Am I important to you?
- Will you be merciful? Will you leave?
If we miss the essence of marriage, we’ll ask the wrong questions. explains that a husband and wife shall leave their father and mother and cleave, becoming one flesh. We should picture two people glued to each other physically, emotionally, spiritually. We don’t cling unless we are in need.
Aaron explained that there is a difference between being clingy and clinging. Being clingy has connotations of being insecure and controlling, whereas clinging is actually good. Picture a man holding drift wood in the ocean. We cling to what he treasure. We are called to cling to God and his covenant. It’s a positive metaphor of something vivid and active. We cling because we are needy.
“This is the essence of marriage, a husband and wife, clinging together.” Do our spouses know that we need them? If you are married, how are you clinging? Would your husband say to you, that you need him. Would your wife say to you, that you need her. “We are both needy and needed.”
A marriage that is in trouble is one where people are no longer clinging, where there is too much independence and detachment. Either a husband and wife are both clinging to each other or you have unhealthy scenarios such as one or both spouses with their hands toward their side, or even worse, you have husband and wife pushing each other away and reaching for someone else.
Marriage is an incredible gift. It is a welding of souls together. Who we are is wrapped up in the other person. We are inseparably connected. There should be constructive dependancy. There should be a reality that we truly are one flesh. This is something we should nurture as we cling on together.
This implies several things practically speaking:
- Doing marriage ministry is doing emergency room counseling. If we really are one flesh, then marital separation and distance are going to hurt. This is why marriage work is so intimidating.
- Marriage is God’s design. It doesn’t just magically happen. We would say it is not magic, it’s divine. What God has joined together, let no man separate. Join = deep bond. We are emotionally joined in a profound way. The one flesh union is the root from which our marriage is grown. When couples are deeply conflicted, there is more under the surface than meets the eye. Being one flesh means our identities are connected. The real issue is will we engage our own hearts and help others explore themselves with humility and vulnerability. Being naked and unashamed is one way we cling to each other. This requires emotional and spiritual openness. It is inviting someone to see me. Nakedness captures our experience. We are vulnerable. (This reminded me of my blog post, Drop The Mask: Be Vulnerable.) Even if we are married to the safest person on the planet, nakedness is hard. We want to encourage vulnerability of our emotions. Let’s be diligent to be naked and unashamed, opening up the pages of our hearts and treating our spouse as our own body.
- Marriage points to Christ and the church. explains this profound mystery. In love, God became one flesh with us and now his identity is wrapped up in us as His bride. The ultimate goal in marriage is to be a parable of Christ’s love for His bride. The watching world should see a glimpse of the eternal union of Christ for His bride. Imagine, Christ clings to us. He holds us fast.
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (ESV)
32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (ESV)