Sunday, 22 April 2018

C Columns

Understanding Relationships: Husband and wife: individually together

By Gary Moore

I was not prepared for the amount of growth and change that happens in a marriage. And, I especially didn’t understand how growth and change are normal in a healthy relationship and that they will always be part of the marriage.

I think that when we think about change in a marriage, we think about the external pressures on the relationship that cause change — career, children, etc. But when we think of them, we don’t realize how much those changes will change each of us. And, if we each change, then the dynamics of the relationship are also going to change.

Picture a circle. This circle represents your 24­-hour day. Draw pictures of you and your spouse in the circle. Add representative figures for your job(s) and for church. This probably represents pretty much the “simple world” of your beginning marriage. Now assume with me that about two years into your marriage child number one comes. Draw a representative figure in the circle for your child. Now, because of your first child, all the relationships represented in your circle change whether you recognize it or not. They have to because the circle’s size is a constant — 24 hours.

Although we mentally know there have been changes, many times (most, for some) we expect the relationship with our spouse to stay the same — to remain constant. The truth is, even if we didn’t add something new into the circle, the relationship with our spouse would not remain the same.

In healthy relationships, there is a natural tension between continuing to grow as an individual and the need for the relationship to grow and mature.

Think about it for a minute. When we were dating our spouse, we put our best foot forward. Guys, when we went to pick her up for a date, we had clean clothes on. They were probably even ironed. We probably put on some after­shave or a splash of cologne. At the very least we used some deodorant. Our vehicle was clean inside and out. We were on our best behavior.

Ladies, you were just the same. You put your best foot forward and tried to be as alluring as you knew how to be. We were literally in a marketing campaign to win each other over. And, even though the other person began to learn more about us over time, there were still areas of our personality that we kept locked away. Even though we wanted them to know and like us, we didn’t really want them to “know” us. We put forth the person that we wanted them to like and fall in love with — even though that really wasn’t our true self.

Thus, when we got married, we married the image that the other person had sold us. We knew in our heart of hearts that our spouse didn’t marry the person we really are. In fact, I didn’t really want my wife to find out everything about me right away.

It's the same for most married people in the beginning. We’re so “happy” and so“in love” that we don’t want to do anything that would threaten that. So as best we can, we try to be that person we “sold” our spouses while we were dating. We literally spend the balance of our married lives discovering whom it is that we actually married.

Thus, as our true selves begin to emerge, we have to change and adapt. And, this is without adding any other outside circumstances or pressures to the circle of life. This changing and adapting takes place throughout our entire married life.

Change and adapting are scary. Will my spouse like me when she finds out who I really am? Will I like my spouse when I find out who she really is?

That’s one reason why we have to embrace marriage as a covenant, not a contract. As a true covenant, there is a depth of lasting commitment that allows space for the discovery of our true selves in relationship. This depth of lasting commitment provides the safety and surety I need to continually discover myself — and us — over and over again.

Think of it this way. Marriage is like cycling. We start off riding the same bike. Many times one of us is riding on the handlebars while the other one pedals. The dependent partner goes along while the dominant partner supplies the power.

Then we get to that tension of discovery of who we really are and the pedaler drops the rider, or the rider kicks the pedaler off. We are both competing for the same bike, for the right to steer and control the speed and the brakes.

Then we mature and grow individually and relationally to the point where we each have our own bikes. Now we ride side­-by­-side, regulating our speed and choosing our common direction. We ride separately together. Each supplies his or her own power. Each keeps his or her own bike going — sometimes in tandem where one rides ahead of the other, but each keeps the other in sight or mind.

And finally, we mature and grow to the point where we’re ready for a bicycle­-built-­for-­two. Now we can both supply equal power, or one of us can rest without being left behind. Now we are truly riding individually together.

Gary Moore is currently a part-­time staff member at Cloverdale Church of God in charge of Adult Education. He's served as associate pastor there for the past 11 years. He's principal of .003 Coaching, providing life coaching, couples' coaching and business coaching locally and around the country. He also does a weekly radio program on KBXL 94.1FM on Fridays at 8:45 a.m. called Life Point Plus. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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