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Friday, February 20, 2015

Marriage is Mutual

Photo by: photostock

You’ve heard the saying “it takes two to tango.” It does! However, I’ve seen video clips of one person tangoing by himself, his arm around an imaginary partner. They’re hilarious, because you have to visualize the partner, the partner’s actions, and try to figure out why the individual is filming himself tangoing solo in the first place!

My husband and I often see this phenomenon in marriage counseling. One partner says, “He doesn’t/She doesn’t,” usually followed by carefully memorized biblical quotations about what a husband or wife should do--the other person's obligations. It’s always the other spouse’s fault.

Or, the partner says, “He does/She does” followed by a list of actions that break the rules and could possibly hurt the marriage. Again, it’s a list about the other person.

Very seldom the person being counseled says, “I have failed here and here and here.” There’s usually finger pointing, blaming, and knowing exactly what the spouse needs to hear.

While the Bible has some guidelines for husbands and wives separately, I wonder if we’re looking at them too far apart, instead of how they’re intended. What I’m trying to say is that marriage is mutual. It takes two to “tango.”*

If the husband is tangoing all by himself, it doesn’t turn out right. If the wife is tangoing all by herself, it doesn’t look too pretty, either. Marriage is mutual. It’s for both and by both. It’s a bond. 

My father used to sing a song at weddings. Part of the words were "Each for the other and both for the Lord." That's what marriage should look like!

Why don’t we understand this? Husband or wife always thinks it’s the other person messing up the “dance,” when it takes two working together to make something beautiful.

Let’s look at what the Bible says about the mutuality of marriage:
  1. From the beginning, marriage means two becoming one.Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:24).
  2. Married people please each other.But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:33-34).
  3. The physical relationship of marriage is mutual.The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other (1 Corinthians 7:4-5a).
  4. Married people yield to each other.Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . . So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:21-25, 28-33).

Just as a one-sided tango doesn’t look normal, so it is in marriage. When the marriage “dance” doesn’t look good or looks lopsided, it’s time to figure out what’s not working.

Dance studios have mirrors so that the dancers can see what’s going right and what’s not quite as smooth as it should be. Should they dip here? Could they make the glide a little better? Is the footwork as graceful as it needs to be? Are the movements accurate?

We have a mirror, too. It’s the Word of God. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed (James 1:22-25).

Do you want your marriage blessed of God? Look in the mirror of God’s Word.
  • See where you need to change your footwork.
  • See where you need to glide.
  • See how to strengthen your hold.
  • Find out how to synchronize your turns.
  • Look where one partner can yield to the other.
  • See what you can change to make the whole marriage better.

Marriage isn’t one-sided. It’s mutual. It’s two imperfect people living together so that God is glorified. It’s the blending of two very different people into one. It can be the most beautiful “tango” in the world!

* The tango is for illustration only.

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