Couples can allow extended family to meddle and interfere in their lives and marriage in ways that are unhelpful. This is why Jesus highlights that marriage involves forming allegiance to your spouse rather than your parents (Mark 10:7). Additionally, couples can allow their children to prevent them from having time together, dates, occasional getaways, or even regular sexual intimacy. While it may seem loving to prioritize the children’s wants, it’s actually more loving to give the child a mom and dad who are united and passionate about each other.
Money is a huge stress on most marriages and we make it worse when we don’t get on the same page. Couples need to have a unified vision and plan for earning, spending, saving, investing, and giving money. They need to learn to talk about money without it ending in a fight. And, above all, they need to avoid keeping secrets about money. If you are hiding money, using a secret credit card, or using money in ways that you’d be embarrassed for your spouse to know, it’s time to come clean and move toward oneness.
Life can get so routine and couples can drift into boredom and apathy, thinking they have learned all there is to know about each other. Couples who experience oneness keep learning new things and keep pursuing one another with passion and interest.
Sometimes couples don’t pursue oneness because they’re so dang tired. It makes sense. When you’re fatigued, it’s hard to exert the emotional energy needed to get deeper than tomorrow’s schedule. And, if the Better Sleep Council is correct, many people are so tired that they’d rather get a good night’s sleep than have sex. We need to start saying no to running ourselves ragged so that we can give ourselves in energetic ways to our marriages.
Fear is a tremendous tool for motivating and controlling people, but it’s awful for building relationship and intimacy. Many people are walking on eggshells because of the emotional fragility or just-below-the-surface rage of their spouse. These sinful ways of relating often come from deep places of hurt, insecurity, and pride and they need to be dealt with — often through counseling. Otherwise, oneness will be non-existent.
Andy Stanley has said that when there’s a gap between what we expect and what we experience, we choose to fill the gap with either trust or suspicion. One of the surest ways to obstruct oneness in marriage is to continually, suspiciously find fault with your spouse. Rather, real love believes the best (1 Cor 13:7).
Similarly, couples that constantly point fingers at one another in blame do not experience oneness. Unhealthy marriages function like a game where there’s a winner and loser. But healthy couples see themselves as on the same team. They take ownership for their own sin and work together to bless rather than blame each other.
Because of so many of the above factors, we often feel justified in fantasizing about people that are not our spouse. It takes many forms: internet pornography, romance novels, romantic comedies, daydreams, overly-emotional conversations with co-workers, looking up former flames on Facebook, or even actively pursuing an adulterous affair. Fantasy is a false intimacy, where you get all the enjoyment of a relationship without any of the work or pain. It’s a sham. The truth is that your spouse is the only legitimate source of intimacy in your life. Anything else is a fly in the ointment of oneness. Similarly, you are your spouse’s only legitimate source of intimacy. This means if you’re not emotionally, physically, or sexually available, you are actually tempting your spouse to sin against God and you.
If you would like assistance in working through some of these, please contact the church. We’re eager to help.