Surrender in Marriage - Part 4
We started this series by defining surrender in marriage:
In Part 3, we explained how surrender does not mean losing yourself. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what it means to “give yourself over” to each other.
Giving Your True Self
When a wife surrenders herself to her husband she is not giving up her self, but rather giving over herself to him; her real self; her full self. He receives her gift, not so that he can selfishly change or control her for his own gain, not to extract from her what he wants. Rather, he cherishes her for who she is, he loves her as she is, unconditionally. His desire is to see her thrive and reach her fullest potential; to walk in her true identity and become all God created her to be.
Likewise, a husband who surrenders himself to his wife is not giving up himself, but rather giving himself over to her; his real self; his full self. His surrender means laying down his life and leading with strength and goodness, just as Jesus does for us. She receives his gift and doesn’t try to change him or manipulate him into meeting her needs. Rather, she loves him unconditionally by showing honor and respect for the person he is, weaknesses and all. Her desire is to see him thrive and reach his fullest potential; to walk in his true identity and become all God created him to be.
This is the second in a series of truths in tension. I’m examining marriage truths that must be considered in light of other offsetting marriage truths. For a successful and thriving Surrendered Marriage you have to be willing to hold what you think you believe about marriage up against other truths that may seem to conflict.
Today’s truth in tension topic is closely related to my previous post, “Does Surrender Mean Losing My Self?” The question at hand today is how to balance the truth that marriage is about two becoming one against the contrasting truth that you still need to retain your individuality.
Transformation not Conformation
Just as it is when we are joined with Christ, when a man and woman get marriage they do not then form a third entity as a couple, “the marriage.” It’s wrong to think that they leave themselves behind and become a part of something different in marriage. Rather, each brings the fullness of their being to the marriage, just as they are, but with the understanding that they are now part of something greater than them alone.
The goal in marriage is not to “conform” yourself into the person you think you should be or the person your spouse thinks you should be. The goal is to “transform” your thinking to begin to look beyond yourself, to ask, “How can I bring myself to this marriage in a way that benefits, blesses, honors and delights my spouse?” You may discover along the way that there are parts of your being that need to grow and change along the way, but the motivation is not conformity but love and intimacy. (There’s a very similar mechanism in Christian maturity as well, but I’ll leave you to ponder that for yourself.)
Are We Two or Are We One?
So the answer to the question of how two people become one and still remain individuals is indeed a mystery, but there is transformational power that can radically impact your marriage when you hold these two truths in tension.
What do you think about my description of a one-flesh paradigm that retains the sense of individuality? Love to hear your thoughts!
Next time I will a look at this unity vs. individuality question from a slightly different perspective. Part three in the truth-in-tension series will look at why sex is a great picture of becoming one flesh that has many implications for becoming one outside the bedroom.