Everyone desires total openness from their spouses. But there can’t be total openness when the access your partner gives you to their inner life, inner thoughts and private habits becomes a political tool.
I ponder on the ruse of genuine intimacy without the freedom to share your failures and inadequacies at least with one person who you’re sure will respect you regardless, love you regardless and stay committed to you regardless. Marriage ought to be a safe place, a place to be naked and not ashamed – even if everywhere else is not.
At work, you experience a barrage of critical appraisals from superiors and colleagues alike. Daily, you fight hard to hold your heads high in the midst of a society that judges people harshly against certain perfect standards of performance, looks and achievements that everyone must conform to.
Finally, you’re done with the day’s work ready to have some break from the toxic work environment and overly competitive society. You’re looking for a resting place; a place to forget the pain of the day; a place to gist, crack jokes and laugh hysterically with your spouse – just the two of you lost in your own world – shut out from the hullabaloo of life; a place to get lost in the open arms of an ever-present friend who affirms your innate grace and capabilities, who sees in you what everyone else fails to see. Certainly you don’t want another toxic atmosphere right in your bedroom.
The marriage that God created in the beginning was as such. No one was ashamed of each other. No one needed to hide anything from the other person out of fear of mockery. They don’t ever mock each other for anything. Whatever weakness or “shame” in the woman’s life, the man saw it as his because at that time his revelation of the woman was, “she’s bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” He won’t criticize her for it. He would rather criticize himself for transferring to her such an imperfect bone.
It was after the fall that he began to dissociate himself from her failures and weaknesses when he described the same woman as, “the woman you gave to be with me.” He quickly put the entire blame on her without blinking his eyelids. See what the fall has done to the marriage that God designed.
May God help me to recognise that whatever weakness I see in my wife is mine. The deformity is traceable to me as the donor of the bone with which she was formed. It is primarily my own weakness. Certainly I want many of my own weaknesses to be cured. But the issue is if I see my wife’s weaknesses as my weaknesses to be cured rather than “her weaknesses”, my approach to fixing those problems will not be critical and rough – it will be loving, humble, patient and gentle.
As a wife you must equally know that the weaknesses in the life of your husband are actually in you too by the mere fact that his bone is what you’re made of. So you must never consider yourself dissociated from those weaknesses. If it is then your weakness, how do you attend to it? Do you abuse yourself? Do you get angry with yourself? Do you mock yourself? I know the way you will attend to it. It will be with gentleness, patience and love. This ought to be your approach to fixing your husband’s weaknesses and failures.
Think about when you’re in the toilet defecating, does your feces ever smell to you? But if it’s another person’s feces, you will smear your face and block your nose. Everyone tolerates themselves even if they are so smelly; but find it difficult to tolerate the smell of others. If you therefore see your partner as you, you will tolerate them. If there’s an issue to fix, you’ll do it the way you fix your own excrements. You carry the bucket, look into the water closet without feeling irritated, then you flush the thing with so much respect for yourself. That’s exactly the way to fix our partners’ “excrements”.
For the weaknesses that are not sinful, unlike-Christ or egregious; like snoring, forgetting things easily, being disorganized with personal effects and stuffs like that – after a good effort to change them, when they appear not changing, the mark of naked and not ashamed is for us to be able to laugh together about them, jibe each other with them and turn everything to fun.
This is the perfect plan of God for our marriages; this is Eden before the fall. May all our homes be restored to this Eden, a place to be naked and not ashamed!
But of course, we are first the ones to be individually restored to the life of God which was in us before the fall. It was the life of God that powered a marriage of accomodation, tolerance, mutual identification and unfeigned love that the first couple shared.
The cry to God in response to this must therefore be a cry for personal revival. When our lives are revived, our marriages will follow in the same direction.
Peniela E. Akintujoye.
©️Peniela Eniayo, Akintujoye| firstname.lastname@example.org