But every marriage in every culture has at least one potential monster. Jeff and I do. You do too.
A monster is anything threatening to viciously separate you. A monster can even be something good. It can even be something God led us to. In knowing husbands and wives would face monsters in marriage, Jesus made a statement about our sacred oneness:
'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." Matthew 19:5-6
When couples experience vibrant oneness, they're able to dream and work and serve and succeed together, as partners. I love being Jeff's partner in life and ministry. I loved spending time with couples around the world who are striving together to accomplish big things together. As I've listened to couples of all ages and stages of marriage, I've heard the danger of how "one flesh" can be pried apart by things that suffocate our intimacy. The word "separate" means to divide, and it suggest a "leaving." Letting ourselves become devoted to and consumed by something, even a "good something," means we have to minimize oneness with our mate. We muffle intimacy with each other to "hold fast" to something else. If we aren't careful, even a good thing can become so big between us that it suffocates the unique love of a husband and a wife.
It may be a thing you both love. It may be a business, a child, a ministry, a goal, .... If we aren't careful, the sweetness of holding fast to each other may fade, as we let go of each other and turn to the "monster" in the middle of our marriage. Pastors' families aren't exempt. Missionaries families aren't exempt. If you're married, Satan wants to see a monster separate you. Maybe you've experienced a monster from your work lives, your church lives, your mission field, your family, your interests. Keeping it contained and under control is key. For us, if all we can talk about is our ministry life, we've let our mission become our monster. Your monster probably looks different than ours, but there's at least one potential monster in each marriage.
The monster test: Sit down for an uninterrupted (do your best) cup of coffee, meal, or evening chat. Having time to just enjoy each other and talk, what do you talk about? Is the "monster" all that you have to talk about? Can you leave the "monster" out of the conversation and talk about the two of you, just enjoying each other?
Is there a monster in between the two of you? Has your love fallen under the shadow of something big in the middle? Are you so focused on a "thing" you share that you don't have time or energy or attention for the two of you?
If you realize there's a monster, even if it's a "good" one, here are some steps to take:
- Acknowledge that the thing you share has become a "monster."
- Agree to set some boundaries about when and where you talk about/what you give to the "monster."
- Nurture other areas of your relationship, so you keep the "monster" the right size.
- Feed the romance between you; "monsters" don't fit well where intimacy thrives.
Remember, you were not created to be one with your monster. I have to remember that, too, especially when good monsters want to consume us. God is delighted when we are one flesh with our mate, and He doesn't want any man, thing of man, or "monster" to come between us.
Is there a monster growing between the two of you?