“I feel frustrated about our marriage,” my friend Tomas conceded as he talked about his wife Diane [*]. “It is not easy to communicate with her. I tried to talk to her about my thoughts and my rationales for doing something, and it seems that she couldn’t hear me at all. She’s blind to how I truly feel about things. And Diane just wanted to control everything. So we often end up fighting and arguing. It seems that she’s stuck in her own little world! How can I get her to see beyond it?”
[*] Not their real names.
Tomas had been trying hard to work on their marriage. But he was mostly relying on some techniques and skills that he picked up from marriage seminars and pop psychology publications. While I was struggling for words to respond to Tomas, as soon as the words “own little world” came off of Tomas’ mouth, I sensed one of those “God moments” coming on.
“I can feel your frustration, Tomas,” I said. “And I know you’ve tried very hard, and you’re starting to feel hopeless.” Tomas nodded.
I continued, “But this is just the sort of problem that Jesus came here for. You see, it’s not just that Diane is in her own little world. You, Tomas, is also blind and lost in your own little world. Likewise, I am also trapped in my own little world unable to live a righteous life. When Jesus sees us trapped in our own little world, his solution wasn’t to demand that we figure out a way to come out and know God. Instead of that, Jesus himself became one of us, lived among us, did what we did, felt how we felt. We are unable to see beyond it, but Jesus revealed the fullness of God to us.”
While my general advice to Tomas was to be an understanding husband according to 1 Peter 3:7 (“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way”), instead of emphasizing communication skills, I said, “Here’s the deal. By your own strength, there’s no way for you to break through your frustration and hopelessness and be motivated to be an understanding husband, unless you also experience Jesus’ incarnation in your life. It depends on your relationship with the Savior. To the extent that you can see Jesus breaking through into your own stubborn little world, can you actually have the strength and necessary motivation to reach into Diane’s world and see things from her perspective and be that change-agent for her.”
In one sense, marriage is indeed an exercise in reflecting Jesus’ incarnation into our world. If marriage is to be “two becoming one flesh,” and if especially for husbands, according to Ephesians 5, the charge is to love your wife as your own body, then we first need to have a deep personal experience with how Jesus also reached beyond our resistance and into our world.