Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, N.K.J.V.)
The union of a man and a woman in matrimony can be illustrated in various ways, but my favorite one involves two lumps of clay. First, take a lump of red clay in one hand. Second, take a lump of white clay in the other. Third, rub the two lumps together until they become one lump. Now, what does the new lump look like? Is it red? Well, there is some red in there but it’s not completely red. Is it white? Again, there is some white in there but it’s not completely white either. The fact is, the new lump is a unique mixture of the red and the white. Welcome to marriage.
Tonya and I are very different. She goes to bed early, but I sit up late. She gets up early, but I sleep late. She could drink Pepsi every day for the rest of her existence on earth, but I’ve got to have some variety in my beverages. She’s not too big on leftovers, but I see it as sort of a moral obligation to finish them off. She gets quiet when she gets mad, but I get loud. She’s a math teacher, but I’m the language-arts type. She likes reality shows and home-improvement shows, but I like scary movies and old westerns. Her favorite meal is breakfast, but mine is dinner. Needless to say, we make for a strangely colored ball of clay.
The Bible teaches that the husband and wife become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). The old joke is that they go on the honeymoon to decide which one they’ll become! Getting back to the ball of clay, though, they won’t become either one. They’ll become a brand new entity, one every bit as unique as any one individual.
And how will this play out in real-life situations? Well, being “one flesh” means that if I have a bad day, Tonya’s day is affected, too. If she gets sick, I get caught up in the wake of her sickness one way or another. If there is a social gathering with her family, I’m expected to be there. If my salary isn’t adequate, she has to suffer for it right along with me. When one feels pain, so does the other. When one feels happiness, so does the other. We’re a team. We’re in everything together. Being “one flesh” is the lock in wedlock.
You see, marriage is not about two people flying solo. I don’t mean that a husband can’t have his personal space or that a wife can’t have her individual interests. Husband and wife don’t have to do everything together or be around one another 24-7. But there must be that realization that the two are always, deep down at their core, one. Frankly, this is why divorce is so gut-wrenching. You just can’t pull yourself away from someone with whom you’ve been one flesh and not leave a certain part of yourself with that person. For that matter, you can’t do it without a part of that person remaining with you.
And so, with all this in mind, let me encourage every married person who reads this post to take a few minutes right now and ponder the fact that you are one flesh with your spouse. Make yourself understand that the relationship that you have with that person is wholly different from the relationship that you have with anybody else – your father, your mother, your child, or your friend. You simply aren’t one flesh with any of them. No, it’s your spouse that exclusively plays that role in your life, and the sooner you acknowledge that and start living in accordance with it, the better off you (and your spouse) will be.