I’m just going to put this out there: The longevity of a marriage is not an indication of oneness.
My parents-in-law divorced after 48 years of marriage. My sister-in-law and her husband separated and are heading toward divorce after 30 years of marriage. When people say they’ve been married for more than 20 years, we applaud them. But no matter how many years you are married, you have to work on oneness. It doesn’t come automatically with a ring and some vows.
Oneness means vulnerability and trust and truth and humility. It means caring about someone else’s needs before your own. It means sacrifice and teamwork. And love. Most of all, love.
My husband, David, and I will have been married 27 years on March 2nd. I think we have a really good marriage. But we definitely have room for improvement. There are things that I struggle with that I just can’t seem to overcome and he has areas that he wrestles with as well. Just last night we had to work through a situation of hurt feelings and misunderstanding. After 26 years! Sheesh, you’d think we’d have this down by now.
27 years at any job looks good on a resumé. But we’re definitely not experts yet.
But I don’t think that either one of us would say that we haven’t strengthened our oneness after 27 years.
Many years ago when our kids were still little, we went through marriage counseling to try and get a handle on some nagging issues. I had fought it for a long time, pridefully thinking that we could fix it ourselves. When I finally let God through, I gave the gift of agreement to my husband. It did a lot of good.
We still read books and go through daily devotionals on marriage. We talk to each other. We bring up issues, though it’s not comfortable and sometimes isn’t well received. We know that if we don’t keep these things in front of us, our oneness will be affected.
We are going in the same direction. We communicate. We try to remember to think the best of each other. We are on the same team. (I wrote a series a few years ago on how tandem biking mirrors marriage. Find the first in that series here.)
It makes a huge difference.
Once you stop thinking of your spouse as your partner and teammate, and start seeing them as the enemy, then you will be on a downward spiral that will lead you away from oneness.
Isolation is the enemy of oneness.
Anger is the enemy of oneness.
Unforgiveness is the enemy of oneness.
1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
I realize that some marriages have been extremely hard. Perhaps there has been abuse or infidelity or addiction. The marriage covenant was broken a long time ago. I’m not suggesting by any means that anyone stay with an abuser.
Truth is, God is a God of redemption and reconciliation. The Trinity is the perfect model of oneness.
The best time to ensure that oneness grows in marriage is in the beginning.
And then do all you can to keep it going.