Can you remember playing the game tug-o-war as a child? One player would get on one end of the rope, and the other would get on the other end. Then each would pull as hard as he could to cause the other to come over to his side. Remember?
Unfortunately, this simple game depicts so many marriages today. But, what is God’s intent for a marriage? Does He intend for a husband and wife to pull against one another throughout a lifetime of marriage? Are there Biblical answers that can help us? How can we find a solution?
When I think back before my husband and I got married, I lived independently. I taught kindergarten, had my own apartment, had my own vehicle, paid all my own bills, and lived completely independently. I had my own schedule, my own way of doing things, my own opinions, and lived as I liked. Although we had dates, which we thoroughly enjoyed, basically I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. What a rude awakening when we got married!
I now had another person living in the house with me. Subconsciously, what I expected was for him to fit into my schedule. Although I loved being married, I wanted him to adapt to my life and my schedule. However, it wasn’t long before a problem became evident. My precious husband had his own lifestyle, schedule, opinions, and way of doing things. That is when the tug-o-war began.
My husband tried to pull me his way, and I tried to pull him mine. The tug-o-war continued for years. I wanted him to be like me. I pulled; he pulled. I pulled; he pulled. I whined, and he got angry. Neither of us really made much progress, and many conflicts arose. Would we forever live in this tug-o-war?
It was The Lord who turned our marriage around. Although many truths of God’s Word worked together to change my heart, and thus, my life, one of the truly beneficial truths that I learned was that of becoming “one flesh” with my husband.
These were the verses that The Lord used to totally change our marriage:
And the rib, which The Lord God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her to the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:22-24
Jesus answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them in the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. Matthew 19:4-6
But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And the twain shall be one flesh, so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. Mark 10:6-8
I discovered that God created the man and woman to live as one flesh. When the man and the woman married, God Himself did an unseen work. It was God Who joined them together as one. In Jesus’ teachings, He explicitly declared that God’s plan from the beginning had never changed, and for the married couple, they were no longer two, but they were now one! They were one because God had joined them as one! Oh my, how clearly I saw my dilemma. My husband and I were still living as two. Obviously, we wanted to live as one. I wanted him to live as I lived. He wanted me to live as he lived. And the only thing that was produced was a tug-o-war.
Then came the difficult truth to understand and grasp. In the teaching on headship in Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul referred to the same truth as he quoted Genesis 2:
For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:30-32
He explained that this was a great mystery, which really means that it is a hidden truth that is only revealed by God. What Paul showed us was that the woman was created from the man’s rib, as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. He further expounded on this mystery as he compared the man and his wife to Christ and the church. The church is called members of his body, flesh of his flesh and bone of His bones.
Oh no, I was beginning to see that Christ is the head of the church, and we are as members of His body, one flesh with Him! What did that mean for me? That meant that as the wife, my husband was the head, and I was a part of his body! Yes, this is a great mystery! When God was creating the man and the woman, He had been creating a picture of Christ and the church, a marvelous mystery to be revealed thousands of years later. Likewise, a husband and wife can now look at the relationship of Christ and the church as a picture of how, together, their marriage can reflect Christ to the world. This is a great mystery, indeed!
But what did this “theological” mystery mean in my simple life? It meant that my husband is my head, and I am a member of him. Yes, we were to be one flesh, but it was me who was to be one flesh with him. Make no mistake, God gives the perfect balance to this truth, but I learned that day to stop trying to pull my husband over to my ways. I saw that I needed to move over to his side. I needed to start pulling with him, and not against him.
I now saw that if I stopped pulling against him, there would no longer be a tug-o-war. Very quietly and very gently, without saying one word to my husband, I laid down the rope. No more tug-o-war. No longer two, but one flesh. Thank you, Lord, for one flesh!