This is an ownership that carries with it a huge obligation, an ownership that carries with it enormous responsibility. It is not about domination or control, but it is about as territorial as you can get. It demands complete fidelity and total faithfulness.

Surprisingly, such love is not based on attractiveness, though that probably was the initial pull that brought the couple together. Instead, when a couple "owns" each other, the relationship has moved beyond merely finding one another attractive to a state of connectedness based on the meaning to be had in meeting each other's needs, the apex of belongingness.

This satisfaction from caring for someone else's needs is not, of course, limited just to marriage. Not long ago, I saw a video clip of Dick and Rick Hoyt competing in the Iron Man triathlon. Dick (65) has competed in over 900 races as a team with his son, Rick (43), a paraplegic who was injured at birth. Dick has pushed Rick's wheelchair in eighty-five marathons (26.2 miles) -- including 24 Boston Marathons. They have competed in 212 triathlons (running, swimming and biking) including the Ironman competition (15 hours) in Hawaii.

What moved me to tears watching the Hoyt video, was how this father and son "own" each other Many a man is proud of his son's physical abilities. Dick's pride rests in his son's spirit. Dick's relationship to Rick is not based on the son's physical attractiveness or in his athletic prowess; instead, we see a demonstration of a father's commitment to the needs and desires of his son ? racing was the son's idea. Father and son belong to each other, knit together by the bonds they have forged through their commitment to each other and the straining together after their mutual goals.

Here I see a parallel, however limited and inadequate, of God's love for us. Though we are misshapen by pride and anger, jealousy and greed, envy and covetousness, God sees us as His. Only His love and grace make this possible. When we reject Him, in spite of His love for us in our fallen condition, that rejection-in favor of the independence to "control" our live - leaves us shorn of the glory that would be ours by virtue of His loving ownership of us.

Recently, I reflected gratefully upon the love I share with my husband and how "right" and "perfect" is the bond between the two of us and how that wonderful bond extends to our children and grandchildren. The thought struck me with powerful force: inevitably one day something will happen to one of us in that family bond and nothing will be totally right ever again. We must treasure the belonging and cherish the ownership of each other.

Tragedy and death are natural aspects of life and none of us will escape such events and human separations. The real tragedy, though, occurs in the million of couples and families who "let" their relationship die -- either through stunting its potential as it goes through the various stages of its development or being unwilling to do the things that could set the union right when something goes wrong.