It was a warm, early summer day when Dennis invited me to go to lunch. We’d known each other as friends for three years in college. But we hadn’t seen each other in a year since graduation, so we had a lot to catch up on.
One lunch wasn’t nearly long enough. So he invited me to go on a picnic the next day. And a picnic still wasn’t enough. On the way back to my apartment, he asked me to go to church with him the next day.
And so began a month of daily dialogue, sharing rides to work, dinners, and walks after dinner. The talking never ran dry. He listened to me as it seemed no one ever had. I felt comfortable with him like no one else. Our relationship was easy and natural.
Within two months, this long conversation led to a decision to get married … a conclusion we both reached after praying for God to show us His will for our lives. And six weeks after that we were husband and wife.
But like every married couple since Adam and Eve, we found ourselves in places where our relationship no longer felt so easy and natural. The romance and joy of our early marriage was replaced by discomfort, disagreement, and difficulty we never saw coming. The springlike oneness that was so real when we married dissipated like dew under the midsummer sun.
How do we move from the excitement of the “I do’s” in our wedding vows to a determined, expectant and equally excited conviction of “We still do”?
According to a dictionary, oneness is the “state of being unified or whole, though comprised of two or more parts.” I like another definition better: oneness is an invisible, transcendent quality of peaceful harmony.
Why is this definition helpful? Because it is what God intends for you. Experienced perfectly by the Trinity, it is also what Jesus prayed for us (John 17:11). And we surely need His prayers—we married couples are not just imperfect but also incapable of achieving the oneness we desire without His work in our lives.
It’s not impossible to recover oneness in our relationship. After all, we’ve experienced oneness before. The answer is going to Him, the source of what we need.
1. Ask God to reveal the truth. A heart examination is the first place to start. And not your spouse’s heart. Examine your own. It is the special work of the devil to divide us and make us see our spouse as the enemy. Jesus called Satan the father of lies, so start by asking questions like:
- What lies am I listening to? What lies am I believing?
- Am I assuming the worst about my spouse?
- In what ways have I contributed to our problems?
- Have I acknowledged my mistakes or have I acted as if everything is his or her fault?
It’s often difficult to recognize the mistakes you’ve made in your marriage. Begin by praying for eyes to see what is in your own heart.
2. Ask God what has come between you if you aren’t sure. He who knows all wants you to know what is happening in your relationship. His greatest desire is always reconciliation and restoration.
3. Ask God to guide you to have an honest, authentic conversation with your spouse. All couples have relational habits built over months and over decades. For example, for many years I told Dennis that I didn’t love going with him on ministry/business trips. They were challenging for me as a mom, and my more introverted personality didn’t enjoy small talk and networking with strangers.
But one day I realized I should be grateful that my husband wanted me to go with him. Then I knew I needed to have a conversation with God first. I asked God to help me be positive and not negative about my husband’s desire. I asked God to help me enjoy this side of our relationship, to enter into these travel experiences with my husband as gifts. Of course I haven’t done this perfectly, but I am not the same person I was.
A few years ago Dennis told me he felt reluctant asking me to go on work trips with him. I knew I had changed and that he was replaying old mental tapes from the past. So I gently reminded him I was not as I once was. And he agreed. And there are old messages I hear in things he says, too, when the truth is he has changed a lot over the years.
4. Ask God for patience with growth in oneness.Isaiah 61:3 calls us “oaks of righteousness,” but oak trees don’t grow overnight. Christian maturity takes place over a lifetime of walking with God. You want your oneness to have the strength of an oak, not the perishable quality of a squash vine.
One conversation with your spouse will not magically restore the oneness you once enjoyed. It may require countless additional conversations. In God’s hands and timing, He will work the good you desire with increased oneness being the result.
As you work toward oneness in your marriage, begin where you are. Risk talking about the hard things with your spouse because when you work through these obstacles, the joy on the other side is so worth it. It’s what will allow you to enthusiastically say together, “We still do!”
So pray for God to grow you together. Offer this prayer as a start:
We married for oneness,
Increase my vision.
May our marriage be
all that You imagined
when You brought us together.
For Your glory and our good.