Everyone is familiar with the Bible verses that say in marriage the husband and wife will become one flesh. While this normally provokes thoughts of the physical, sexual union, I believe the meaning goes much further.
I have shared (see my resources) that Willard Harley has a book on the top five needs of a husband and the top five needs of a wife. A husband’s top need is sex and a wife’s is affection. Personal observation has also shown me that the outside appearances of a marriage can be deceiving. One couple, in their sixties, seems to often fight like cats and dogs in public – arguing and belittling one another. Yet they have sex almost every morning, and the husband even categorizes it as “great sex.” Another couple, in their fifties, never argue or put one another down in public, yet the husband feels lucky to have sex once every three or four months and doesn’t describe it as “great.”
The real issue is that there are many preliminaries and prerequisites to a great “one flesh.” I have shared how my wife and I have decided to put each other at the top of our priority list (at number 2). That means that we both put each other way above the cat – something my grandmother had problems with. Seems like the potential for a good country western song is there. A couple of coworkers like listening to country western in the office, and I’ve heard a song several times about how “I want you to love me like my dog (does).” The gist is that the dog is truly forgiving, non-demanding, and unconditionally loves him.
Yes, sex is important to become one flesh in a marriage, but I have found there are three other areas just as important:
(1) Communication – it seems a cliché to say that good communication is important in a marriage, but it’s probably the most important, the one factor that impacts everything else. You have to both be willing to speak up and share not only the good, but what bothers you and how you are feeling. And both of you have to make the other feel safe in doing just that. You need to become one in truly knowing one another.
(2) Finances – Harley’s companion book (resources) on Love Busters stresses the importance of complete honesty in a marriage. This is most important with finances. Finances are said to be the number one cause of divorce. I believe financial deceit in a marriage is more destructive than sexual infidelity. You need to be one in finances, plan and spend in agreement.
(3) Parenting – When I hear this idea expressed, it is always referring to parenting small children. But it applies equally to grown children as well. The father and mother must relate to the child as one in important matters. This includes finances, discipline, and all family decisions on actions to take or not take regarding that child.
(4) Honesty – I know I said three. But as I wrote this, I was struck by the importance of honesty in all three. We have to be honest, including our fears, to have good one-flesh communication. And if we are honest in our finances, we avoid the financial deceit. When both husband and wife are honest with each other about what a child has done or said, and discuss the unified response they both will present to the child, they again are one flesh.
The great thing about one-flesh communication, one-flesh finances, and one-flesh parenting is that they all lead to great sex (or so I am told).