One man, one woman, united together forever in the closest human bond possible and able to experience life together with no hesitations, no holding back – complete trust and transparency. That is the goal of an Unashamed Marriage, as depicted in the Edenic Marriage Model – the man and his wife were naked and unashamed.
Regardless of your “religious” persuasion, if any, if one were to do a review of every poet, author, philosopher, statesman, musician, and comic from the beginning of recorded history to present, there is no denying that humans are “spiritual.” We can go about our lives, careers, plans, hopes, dreams and bucket lists, and find ourselves at a dead stop when we begin to ponder things such as the meaning of life and the future of planet Earth. These thoughts seem much bigger than the normal pontifications of our day to day life. We can’t deny our spiritual side, likewise we can’t hide it from the one we are the most intimate with. To do so would crush our growing awareness of where we fit in this world and put up a barrier in the marriage. Barriers take away from total trust and intimacy. Barriers are the thief of an Unashamed Marriage.
So just being able to talk about your ideas of the meaning of life with your spouse is all it takes to satisfy the openness needed in the spirituality aspect of an Unashamed Marriage, right? It’s not that easy, you see Spirituality is a Double-Edged Sword.
From the beginning of history, including such events as the Crusades, the Puritans, the Hugenots, the Reformation, Communism, and the history of Rhode Island – we can see that whenever religion – defined for our purposes as a particular way of interpreting spirituality – is forced, mandated, or regulated by the state, it gets ugly. The last thing you want in an Unashamed Marriage is for spirituality to become about religion getting ugly. Here are 3 spiritual warfare mistakes couples make in marriage that give opportunity for religion to turn ugly.
1. My experience trumps your experience. He prays for a sports car, she prays for a cat. When both things come to pass, he assumes the greater religious fervor because he’s aware that a car is much more expensive and therefore valuable than a cat. But look deeper. He wanted proof of his recent promotion and thought the car was the best thing. She’s wanted a cat all of her life, but her parents are both severely allergic to animals and after college she lived in apartments that didn’t allow pets. The cat is a fulfillment of a lifelong desire. The point is that spirituality goes much deeper than the surface and as humans we tend to judge on the superficial. Couples that respect each other’s spiritual experiences without trying to prove that one was better or more important than they other, are the couples that heighten total intimacy instead of taking away from it.
2. Ignoring religious differences. Earlier we defined religion as a particular way of interpreting spirituality. From flavors of Christianity to Buddhism and secularism to Islam and so much more, the world is full of differing religions. What many couples fail to account for as they begin the dating and eventually engagement and marriage phases of their relationship, is the level of influence in framing our perspectives and worldviews that our particular religion has on our lives. Then suddenly we wake up one morning next to our spouse and realize that their secularism is clashing with our Hinduism. Does this mean that couples who failed to negotiate religious differences before marriage are doomed? It doesn’t have to. But neither will we sugar coat it and say that religious differences don’t add any ripples to the pond. Ignoring religious differences means someone is going to explode when they see the cost of Catholic school tuition for their children when their conservative Protestantism had prepared to homeschool. If religious differences weren’t negotiated before marriage, it is going to be an issue of give and take and agreeing to disagree. Respect for each others’ viewpoint will have to exist. There can still be intimacy in marriage in the area of spirituality, but it will take more effort. Those who married a spouse of like religious beliefs have a common ground to start from and greater ease in achieving total intimacy in spirituality.
3. The Spirituality Hammer. This is where the history of forced religion takes on a personal tone. Couples often mess up when they try to “fix” their spouse with their preferred hammer or religion. Every religion has do’s and don’ts. Beating up your spouse about their thoughts, ideals or behaviors in the context of your religion is going to destroy your marriage. Chastising your wife because she hasn’t been in the habit of buying Kosher items for the pantry isn’t going to make her love the Jewish laws of Kosher. Likewise beating up your husband over his “wasting time” on video games by quoting Scriptures about idleness isn’t going to make him want to jump up and clean the garage. A man convinced against is will is of the same opinion still. Whether it be the Laws of Manu, the Torah, The Bible, or any other holy book, it is easy to find some list of things to do and not do and start telling your spouse where they are wrong. Instead there is the Unashamed Marriage method of sharing form a holy book. If it is about needed changes or correction, that is for you. Apply it to yourself. If it is encouraging, uplifting, inspiring and full of peace, hope and joy – that can be shared with your spouse as well as applied to yourself.
Sexual intimacy has often been called a spiritual experience. It is undeniable that something so intense and personal could be purely human in origin. We’re far too selfish for that. No barriers in the area of spirituality is going to open up marital intimacy in ways that may make you shudder with pleasure. Couples desiring an Unashamed Marriage must keep in mind that Spirituality can be a Double Edged Sword. Used correctly, it can cut deep into each and every life experience taking it to levels of richness and fullness we never thought possible. But that same sword used incorrectly can cut apart our connection as a couple, severing closeness and intimacy. Wield the sword of Spirituality carefully. Experience all that an Unashamed Marriage can be, instead of severing the closeness that marriage is intended to have.