Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Independent Dependence: Two Becoming One

“Having someone to lean on is nice. Knowing you can stand on your own is nicer.”
The expression “…the two will become one flesh” taken from the Bible never meant that personal identities are lost. In fact the word “flesh” is a key to understanding the verse. I looked at twenty different translations of the passage and all but three use the word “flesh.” It doesn’t say they are necessarily one in thoughts, actions, personalities, beliefs, or judgments. In fact, it sounds like a quite literal event as in the consummation of the marriage.

There is, of course, a strong case to be made for the union of these other elements, thought, actions, personalities, and so on, but plenty has been written on that subject. If anything, not enough has been said about the concept of remaining independent within your relational dependence. 

I have heard it said, “Once a man no longer needs you, he’ll leave.” (It also could have been said the other way, “Once a woman no longer needs her husband, she’ll leave.” Sadly, in some circumstances that could be too close to the truth. But, these are unhealthy relationships. In a healthy union each is independent of the other in most ways, dependent in a few—but not to the point that survival without the other would not be feasible. 

In my personal experience, I went from living with my mom and dad to living with a roommate at college, and then into a marriage. I never lived independent of someone else until after my divorce. I was in for a rude awakening and many believed I couldn’t make it on my own. 

Not only did I survive on my own, I thrived. Not right away, but in time I learned to enjoy the freedom of solitude. Eventually I married again, but the second time I brought an independence to the relationship in which I didn’t “need” my wife—I had learned quite well how to take care of myself—but I “wanted” her. She, in turn, had been alone for several years, was quite independent, and was looking for someone who wasn’t needy.

How do we maintain independent dependence in a marital/relational situation? Of course, I strongly believe in compromise, but when trying to maintain independence, the compromise is helped by yielding certain things. For instance, before I met my wife she developed a healthy network of friends—mostly women, but not all—and it was important to her to maintain those relationships.
I recognized the value, and had no problem with it except with men she had dated in the past. When sheis out late with her girlfriends, and I’m home alone, I remind myself of the years I spent alone and how I enjoyed the solitude. I relax and find healthy ways to occupy my time, even if it’s simply watching television.

When she returns home, I show interest in her by asking about her evening. Initially, she reacted negatively to my questions until I assured her I was not interrogating her, just trying to let her know I care about her and I am interested in the things that interest her. My wife gives me the same freedom and respect. 

The belief that opposites attract is a myth. The truth is, it is our similarities more than our differences that attract us to one another. But, over time, our differences can be blown out of proportion until that seems to be the focus of the relationship. If we allow that to happen, the relationship is headed in the wrong direction. Think of opposites—beliefs, thoughts, actions, personalities, judgments—as an individual’s independence shouting to be heard. 

We don’t want to be so consumed by the other person that we lose who we are. And, it would be a mistake to insist the other person conform to our way of thinking, our way of doing things, and own belief system.

Initially, marriage may have brought two needy persons together who gained great strength and courage in their union. Their joining together to become one flesh worked out to the advantage of both. Over time, however, if they want their relationship to grow, one key element is to allow each individual to grow separately as they grow together until you reach a point where you no longer need each other, but you still want one another. You can, and should, strive for independent dependence.
Contributed by Wayne Holmes

Going Deeper
Core Exercises = Stress Release By Lisa Gerard
Exercising is not only for the body but for the mind as well. Your brain benefits from being fit. With your mind and body releasing endorphins as you exercise, which is a natural feel good chemical, you rid the stress that builds up throughout the day. Ultimately giving you the benefit of thinking more clearly and feeling better energized to handle what is causing you stress. A great way for couples to exercise together is going for a walk. Couples that exercise together work together in solving issues. When my husband and I go walking we help each other with problems, issues or concerns. We help each other by listening and sometimes offering advice. I also take walks with my children, even now as they enter adult hood it is easier to bring up conversations that may otherwise be awkward or problems they may be holding in. 

Exercise improves confidence and releases stress which leads to improved relationships mentally and physically. Laughter is an exercise most people often forget about. Laughter exercises your core muscles as it does your mind and spirit. Don’t take things so seriously, most issues work themselves out and the rest will in time. Stand back take a look, breathe and smile. It will all work out. Problems are only problems when we make it a problem and keep it that way. Problems can be easily solved when we have a clear perspective. Exercise, breathe deeply and laugh more often!

Note: If you’re interested in Lisa Gerard’s Core Strengthening you can contact her at 513-708-0563 to set up time and location. Many locations available. Pricing is $25/45min of individual training.

A general invitation from Pastor Eastman
Any time you think that some one-on-one conversation might be useful in strengthening your marriage, contact me. We know many counselors and healers who provide great support to couples, and it is my pleasure to help you connect with someone who is a good fit to help you move forward in your loving and working relationship. Calling me usually gets a quicker response: 513 853 6180, but e-mail: Pastor@OurChaplain.com or text: 513 703 8196 will also work. —Pastor Brian Eastman