The Unity of the Marriage
I truly believe that God never intended two people to be closer together than the husband and wife are intended to be. The day I got married the Bible teaches that my wife and I were made one flesh. Adam made this observation after Eve was created and Jesus Christ Himself echoed these thoughts while He was on this earth. “And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” (Matthew 19:5)
There is no one in this world who should be closer to you than your spouse. I believe this is made clear by the fact that we are commanded to leave our father and mother and cleave to our spouse. The unity of marriage is built in two stages.
It is necessary for the child to leave their parents to be wed to a spouse. This is symbolized in the wedding ceremony when the father walks his daughter down the aisle and gives her away to her husband. Thus, transferring the role of leadership of that young lady from the father to the husband. This parallel of leadership is made clear in the Scriptures. “But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her.” (Numbers 30:5) This verse makes clear the leadership of the father over the unmarried daughter for whom he provides. However, once she is married this leader in her life changes. “But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the day he heard them; then whatsoever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and the LORD shall forgive her.” (Numbers 30:12) Clearly, the Lord recognized the leadership of the father first, and then the leadership of the husband in the same role.
Sadly, the unity of a marriage is threatened because one spouse or the other does not leave their parents and cleave to their spouse. This causes the husband or wife to hold their spouse to the standard of their parents. The leaving in a marriage union must be more than the symbol of the ceremony, it must be the mindset of each spouse.
The word cleave means to unite closely in interest and affection. When a man and a woman join in matrimony, they are to unite their interests and their affections in order to be more closely and strongly bonded together.
The unity of interests begins with the unifying of personal interests. The husband and wife should each strive to have a certain degree of understanding in their spouses’ personal hobbies. This opens a door of engagement into what your spouse desires to do for fun. This should be a two-way engagement and not just expected of one spouse.
Secondly, there needs to be unity in monetary interests. I believe it is wise for husbands and wives to combine their monetary resources together to achieve unity in their finances. This requires a great deal of trust between the spouses. Once the finances have been joined, then the couple should work on a joint budget so that they can agree on where the money will be spent as to what should be prioritized. This communicates a common goal as well as accountability to the union.
The third interest that needs to be unified is the spiritual interests of the couple. For the couple who endeavors to please God in their life a combination of spiritual interests will be crucial. It is healthy to have regular conversations about spiritual things with your spouse. Ask your spouse what the Lord showed them in their quiet time and don’t be offended when your spouse asks you the same. If your spouse is struggling spiritually do not condemn them but be there to encourage them to be stronger and help them all you can.
There not only needs to be a combination of interests, but also a combination of affection. The word affection simply means focus. The husband and wife should have a combined focus on three main things. There should be a combined focus on God, their marriage, and their family.
When there is a combined focus on God there is a concerted effort to put God first in our lives jointly. When the husband is seeking to please God first in his life and the wife is also seeking to please God first in her life there will be an inherent unity that takes place between the both of them. However, when one seeks to please God first and the other does not then there will be a spirit of jealousy that will creep in. The spouse with the misplaced focus will be jealous of their spouse's focus on God.
The combined focus on the marriage itself creates a wall of protection around the unity of the relationship. Each spouse will be guarding their part of the relationship in an effort to maintain a healthy union as a whole.
The combined focus on the family will serve to provide for and protect the family as well. There needs to be a joint effort in caring for the home and the family therein. When this focus and action is shared by both spouses it creates grounds for a strong family.
When we learn to leave and cleave as the Bible prescribes then we will build unity in our marriage. However, so many couples do not successfully accomplish this, not because the plan is too hard but rather because of the hardness of their own hearts. “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning, it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8) Every husband and every wife ought to ask the Lord to make sure their heart is tender and to show them their part in building unity in their marriage.