The Healing Power of Marriage
- 2011 19 Mar
Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center, will address questions from Crosswalk readers in his weekly column. Submit your question to TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
I have a quick quiz I'd like you to take.
No boning up for this one. Just give the first answer that comes to your mind.
1. Who knows you better than anyone else?
2. Who has seen you at your absolute worst?
3. Who knows your darkest secrets?
4. Who knows your worst character traits?
5. Who do you want a hug from when you're feeling down?
Okay, how are you doing? Just one more. Does anyone in particular come to mind? Last question.
6. Who has the greatest power to help you heal from emotional, relational and even spiritual struggles?
While some may waffle a bit with their answers, many would say one person: their mate.
Yes, even in the worst of relational times, we long to be understood and accepted by one person—our mate. When the chips are down, we want encouragement from one person—our mate. When we feel the most insecure, we want healing counsel from one person—our mate.
But wait a minute. Isn't our mate the one person on Earth we're more likely to argue with than anyone else? Yes. Aren't they the one we may feel unsafe with because of times of intense conflict? Yes, again. And finally, isn't my mate the person with whom I often don't want to share my darkest secrets? Sometimes, yes.
In spite of those answers, I still have some great news for you. Your mate, in spite of and perhaps even because of those difficulties, is THE person God has given you to be a helpmate. More than any other person on the planet, your mate has the potential to bring healing to you and your relationship with them.
Shortly after God created the Earth and heavens, he placed man in the garden he had planted, luxurious and beautiful in every way. Yet, in spite of the abundance, something was missing.
"It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18) Enjoying the garden, yet incredibly lonely, I can imagine Adam being pretty excited about this new addition to creation.
But the historical record is clear—humankind would not always live in harmony. They would struggle and battle with each other. Still, God's goal for man and wife was they would help each other, defer to each other in love and build each other up. Marriage was the place designed for great things to happen.
Let's look a bit closer at the potential healing power of marriage.
First, marriage is the place we can be transparent. Marriage is the place we put down the heavy weight of our façade. No persona of work at trying to be more than we are. This transparency has been proven to be antidotes to life's stresses. Your mate offers you the opportunity to be fully known, understood and accepted, and these are powerfully healing.
Second, marriage is the place where you can be vulnerable. Here, with the person who knows you better than anyone else, you can share your worst fears, deepest insecurities and your most challenging struggles. Marriage, when functioning as God intended, is the safest place for you to share your most vulnerable self—and this is powerfully healing.
Third, marriage is the place where we can work on our weakest character traits. Scripture encourages us to bear with one another's weaknesses, (Romans 15: 1) and there is no better place to do this than in marriage. While friendships offer a unique and critical component for healthy living, marriage is where our foibles and personality issues are exposed. No one knows what we need to work on like our mate, and they are in a unique position to be a powerful instrument of healing for those weaknesses.
Fourth, marriage is the place where we can offer encouragement to a needy person—our mate. Again, Scripture challenges us to encourage and comfort others with the encouragement and comfort we have received. (2 Corinthians 3:1) We are to bear one another's burdens. (Galatians 6: 2) For many, the closest mission field is as close as their home. Are you aware of your mate's needs? Do you know how they need encouragement and comfort?
Fifth, marriage is the place we can share our most fragile dreams. Here, within the safety and security of our marriage, we can share our deepest desires. We can share those embryonic ideas, hopes and wishes, knowing they will be held with the greatest care until they can stand on their own. Dreaming out loud is one of the most powerful antidotes to discouragement and depression.
Many see their marriage as a place to cope, to endure or to struggle, when in reality it can be a place of powerful healing. What if, instead of your marriage being a place of strife and conflict, you determined for it to be a place of healing? Instead of seeking more from your mate, consider giving more. Instead of resenting the demands placed upon you from your mate, consider your marriage being a mission field and opportunity to offer the healing presence of God. When Jesus talks about meeting the needs of "the least of these," perhaps He is talking about that person to whom you said ‘I do' years ago.
Let me know how these strategies work, or share other ideas for ministering to your mate.
November 23, 2009
Dr. Hawkins is the director of the Marriage Recover Center where he counsels couples in distress. He is the author of over 30 books, including Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life, 90 Days to a Fantastic Marriage, and Saying It So He'll Listen. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.