As with everything good that God created, the enemy has marred and distorted God’s statement, “they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) When working as God intended, that is a picture of beautiful intimacy between husband and wife, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But there is also a critically important sense in which detachment from your spouse makes your marriage better.
Stay with me and let me explain. I do not mean living as roommates, as ships passing in the night. God created you for true intimacy. If you are looking for an excuse to be selfish, to not care about your spouse, this message is not for you. But too often the “one flesh” image the Christian church has painted of marriage looks more like the enemy’s distorted counterfeit of enmeshment, manipulation, codependency, dysfunction, or abuse.
Let’s unpack the distortions of the enemy. Then we’ll look at how Jesus demonstrated healthy detachment. And then we’ll address what this can mean for your marriage.
An Enmeshed Marriage
God does not save couples; He saves individuals. Oh yes, God is right in the middle of a godly marriage, holding two sinners together with His divine glue and transforming them in the process. But when you become enmeshed you are no longer being the human being God created you to be.
Codependency is when you’re about to die and someone else’s life flashes before your eyes. When you are enmeshed one of you no longer has a real choice; one person’s free will is covered over by the spouse’s. Often one spouse is dominant, aggressive, manipulative, or abusive, and the other is a doormat. Marriage becomes an idol.
No human being, sinners as we all are, can sustain the weight of being on the throne of another person’s heart. That will always lead to destruction. Codependency becomes the counterfeit for caring. Weakness in one and domination in the other replace authentic connection. Using, abusing, and being used take the place of submission as God intended.
In such an enmeshed marriage nobody is loving well. Love is only love when it is freely given. When it is manipulated or demanded or born out of obligation it’s not love.
Jesus was Detached
God is love. Jesus demonstrated what that love looks like when He was here in human form. But the frequent Christian depictions of a pale, emotionally weak, almost listless Jesus bear no resemblance at all to the Jesus who Peter, James, and John knew, watched, heard, and touched with their own hands. (See 1 John 1:1) That’s part of why our mental picture of love is so distorted.
Jesus cared deeply about human beings. So deeply that He emptied Himself of His eternal glory, became one of us, and walked voluntarily into the jaws of death to redeem and transform us. And He is the same today.
But Jesus’ caring was not determined by the emotional state of people around Him. He lived His life before an Audience of One – His Heavenly Father. When people thronged around Him demanding He become their king, He walked away. Not long thereafter when another throng cried “Crucify Him!”, He was unmoved.
On the individual level, every human being coming into Jesus’ presence was welcomed. But at the very same time they were confronted with the overwhelming sense that only righteousness was acceptable. Jesus did not change because someone wanted Him to. He got His marching orders from a Higher Authority. His own mental/emotional state was not defined by those around Him.
That’s what healthy godly detachment looks like. It’s what allowed Jesus to love human beings with an infinite love that is stronger than death. That kind of detachment does not mean not caring; it makes real caring and love possible.
Detachment in Your Marriage
All that seems like a very tall order for your marriage. You got married because you were emotionally hooked, because you thought your spouse would meet your needs. But now your relationship may be more defined by control and manipulation. You slip back and forth from being controlled to trying to control.
And you certainly can’t have a good day if your spouse is having a bad day.
Much of the reason why the enemy’s distortions are so effective is because they seem, outwardly, so close to the real thing. And that’s why, for most, learning to love well in marriage is difficult. It’s why any healthy marriage takes work, prayer, and divine intervention.
So, a few ways to begin:
- Get your own heart right. Get serious with God. Determine to allow Him to fill the holes in your soul that only He can. Learn to get quiet and listen for His voice. When the Holy Spirit asks to change something in your life or heart, say Yes.
- Begin to live out your identity in Christ. There has been much written in Christian circles of late about discovering your identity in Christ. There’s much truth here. You, yes you, are a king/queen, a priest, a member of God’s royal household. (Revelation 1:6) You have an indispensable role to play. It’s time for you to step up!
- Seek God’s perspective. How you need to see your spouse and your marriage as God sees them! And your own heart also. Intentionally take time to ask God to let you see your spouse as He sees him/her.
- Practice. Your old patterns and mindsets have developed over years; you won’t stop living that way in a day. The first time you think for yourself, or allow your spouse to have their own opinion, may seem terrifying. Give yourself grace; God does. It will take time to mature in this way.
Two halves don’t make a whole when it comes to marriage. Godly marriage is when two whole integrated human beings come together with nakedness (physical, emotional, spiritual), relying on divine glue to hold them together.
That’s what “one flesh” is really all about.
Your Turn: Has your marriage been enmeshed? Dysfunctional? Codependent? What next step toward healthy detachment will you take? Leave a message below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- A healthy detachment from your spouse makes for a better marriage, much better than being enmeshed, dysfunctional, codependent, or embroiled in control/manipulation. Tweet that.
Is Your Communication Broken?
Better communication is the Number 1 issue couples want improved in their relationship. Understanding your Communication Style will be an important step in making your communication more effective.
This brief FREE Communication Personality Assessment will provide you personalized results indicating your communication strengths, communication challenges, and some tips on improving your communication at any stage of your relationship.
Take the Communication Personality Assessment now!