When you’re saying “Road closed”
By Janel Breitenstein
The past three weeks, the road around my house has been a traffic-coned circus. I can spot an excavator from my window. Even when I can’t see the jackhammer or the circular-asphalt-saw-thingy, I can still hear them.
It’s got me thinking of the “road closed” signs we tend to toss up in marriage, their silent blink warding off any potential violators. Even if you live here.
What habits keep us from finding our way home to each other? Our relational traffic cones tend to fall along at least three lines.
1. Self-sufficiency. Perhaps in the past, we’ve learned we can’t trust others. So we subtly (or not-so-subtly) communicate, “I don’t need you.” Nothing signals “stay away” like “you’re just a bonus to my independence. You offer no real contributions to my self-reliance.”
But God has created us to need one another, as different parts of a body. None of us would want our pancreas taking off on its own. Without others, each of us is just about as effective (see 1 Corinthians 12:19-21).
2. Selfishness. Rather than just desiring our needs get met, we demand—and like our mutual enemy—steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). It’s often because we can’t see our spouses. We have trouble visualizing their needs before we visualize our own. Talk about a roadblock.
Frankly? In those instances, we love ourselves more than our spouse. Sometimes we just need to trust God to provide for us. Or maybe we can try asking our spouse for what we need rather than just taking it.
3. Self-hatred. Sometimes we’re humiliated by our own neediness, which causes us to withdraw. We may undermine our spouse’s efforts to come toward us; to embrace us as “naked and unashamed”—emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
But God liberates us by reminding us that because of Jesus, we’re no longer condemnable (Romans 8:1).
What’s keeping the two of you from freely approaching each other?
The good stuff: If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (1 Corinthians 12:19-21)
- If you struggle with self-sufficiency, explore the experiences in your past which have led to your difficulty to trust, need, and depend. Explore how you came to associate your need with fear, inadequacy, or ___.
- Work to express one way you need or appreciate your spouse each day this week. Make sure your spouse knows they’re far more than a happy bonus.
- If you struggle with selfishness, start by acknowledging the times when you allow your needs to trump that of your spouse. (If it’s hard to see specifics, your spouse might have a few examples.)
- Work to choose your spouse over your own needs at least once each day this week.
- If you struggle with self-hatred, recognize God created us as needy: “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna...that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Explore how you came to associate your need with shame, or __.
- Work to express one way you’re thankful to depend on your spouse each day this week.
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