Writing this post could potentially seem odd because I am not married, so some may think it obvious that an ignorant single in her twenties could write something titled, “Fool Proof Marriage”. Stay with me though. This is coming from Ephesians, and, well, Paul wasn’t married either.
Ephesians 5 and 6 have traditionally been loved and hated by many. We all love the concept of “walking in love” and “taking up the armor of God.” What fantastic imagery and an ideal reality! Then comes, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ew. Don’t like that. “Children obey your parents”? No. “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters”?!?!?! Not okay. Even though pastors smoothly cover it as employees honoring their bosses and working for the Lord.
But it was Ephesians 5 I found myself reading the other day and I came across some amazing ties between codependency and Christianity.
The part that drew my attention was the section on husbands. Check this out:
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'”
We see that God placed some fool proof backups into the institution of marriage. In Genesis, God designed man and woman to become one. In so doing, a marriage could never be torn apart. And why would it? Our ego has wired us to survive. No matter how hungry you are, you won’t eat yourself. We are not prone to self-cannibalization. Ideally, you can’t do something to destroy you spouse because that, in turn, would be self-destruction.
However, the problem comes from behind the ego. The part of your subconscious you live with daily but don’t allow yourself to acknowledge. Why did Jesus say divorce had been placed into the Law? It was because of man’s hardness of heart.
How can someone love another as they love themselves if they don’t know what it means to love themselves? That was trippy. In other words, how can you love someone else if you inwardly dislike yourself?
Many of us have been shown from a very young age a distorted version of love. It may look like abandonment, physical abuse, sexual abuse, enmeshment, or an expectation for you to behave beyond your capabilities. We take this on as normal and “love” our spouse in the same way. We shame them. We hit them. We drain them emotionally or we deprive them of emotional intimacy. We keep score of all their mistakes and hold them to a standard we could never meet ourselves. This is how we were treated and it’s what we believe we deserve.
Codependency recovery largely involves working through past shame and fear that keep you from liking yourself as a person. Knowing and believing that God loves and likes you for who you are. When we choose to step up to our past pain and unravel the shame that holds our identity in its grasp, we can begin to love God and love ourselves. It’s only then, that we can love our spouse as we love ourselves.
God created a fool proof institution that reflects the love He has for us. Living in a world that is broken emotionally and mentally, we miss the beauty of the ideal. However, it’s not impossible to gain. Change does not begin with your spouse (or for single people, your roommates), it begins with you. It begins with your relationship with God and your recovery. When two people come together and each live under the sovereign love of God, the love they can then give to each other is miraculous. It’s a mind blowing picture of the love God has for His Son and the love His Son has for us.
Happy Valentine’s Day!