"People often believe that important differences will go away with time -
but getting married does not automatically bring people closer." (David
If you're like us, when you were first married you believed the
"differences" you had would be no big deal and with time you'd grow
increasingly united in every way. Remember when you lit the Unity Candle
in your wedding ceremony and blew out your individual candles? That act
meant you would now be "one," right? It meant you would stop thinking only
about your own interests. From that day forward it would be "we" and "us"
- not just "me" and "I." But is that really what happened after your
wedding? Probably not - and to be truthful, it didn't happen for us
If you agree that unity is important in the marriage relationship, why is
it so hard to achieve? What can we do to move toward unity? Well, Dr. Gary
Smalley offered some of his personal and professional insights on this
subject a while ago, at an "I Still Do" marriage conference when he spoke
for the ministry of Family Life Today. Here's what he had to say:
"Like many of you, my wife, Norma, and I lit 'unity candles' at our
wedding ceremony. And like many of you, I had only a vague idea at the
time of what those candles symbolized. Only recently have I understood.
"If I were planning a unity candle ceremony today, I would start with two
candles colored yellow and blue. When you enter the church of wedding
chapel, you enter as singles, and you are very different from each other.
You have your own personality, your own skills, and your own opinions.
"Blue and yellow mixed together will turn green, and that would be the
color of the third candle. After using the blue and yellow candles to
light the green one, the bride and groom would then blow out their
individual candles. It all symbolizes the fact that, in marriage, you are
no longer singles. You are a couple. Genesis 2:24 tells us, 'For this
cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his
wife; and they shall become one flesh.'
"I believe that conflict and arguments can be the doorway to true intimacy
in a marriage. Why? Because it can force you to learn what your mate is
feeling and what your mate needs. When you both understand each other, you
can blend them together and make a decision that works for both of you as
"What often happens, however, is the conflict leads you to re-light your
blue and yellow candles, (so to speak). You act like a single again; you
seek to win the argument rather than finding a solution that works for
both of you.
"Any time you get into an argument, blow out those candles and say, 'We're
going to be a couple. It's not my opinion that matters, it's our opinion.
We're a team now."
"Inevitably, in any marriage, four germs will try to infect your
relationship and lead you to revert back to acting like a single. These
four germs are:
~ "Withdrawing from an argument.
~ "Escalating during an argument --raising the emotional pitch because
you're trying to win your position.
~ "Belittling your mate.
- "Seeing too many negative things in your mate.
"After many years of marriage, Norma and I have finally realized that the
greatest antidote to these four germs --the greatest thing we could do to
build a great marriage --was to honor each other.
"Take a look at the following steps to honoring your mate, and you'll see
how they counteract those germs.
Step #1: "MAKE A DECISION THAT YOUR MATE IS HIGHLY VALUABLE.
All of your spouse's differences - personality, interests, opinions, etc. are
priceless. God has put you together as a team to become one.
Step #2: "START MAKING A LIST TODAY OF ALL THE POSITIVE THINGS ABOUT YOUR MATE. Write down the things you love about your spouse --the things you appreciate. The principle comes from Philippians 4:8, which instructs us to dwell on 'whatever is noble, whatever is right - think on these things.'
"As you start forcing yourself to find something positive in your mate every day, you start looking for it. And the more you look for it, the more you see it and the more you honor each other. "I have four and a half single spaced sheets of positive things I've
written about my wife. When our relationship is strained from time to time I pull these out and start reading them. Within five minutes I feel so warm towards her; it changes my feelings and affections so rapidly.
Step #3: "TELL ONE ANOTHER THESE POSITIVE THINGS ON A REGULAR BASIS. Make it a habit to praise each other. Use cards or sticky notes. Tell your children or your friends about how thrilled you are with your mate, and let them go back and tell your mate what you said. "Some of you are thinking, 'I can't do this. I can't think of anything positive.' If you can't do it, go to the Lord. He says He gives His grace to the humble. Ask for His grace. It may not happen overnight; it might take six months. When He gives you His grace, it will change your life and your marriage."
So, if you're struggling with building unity in your marriage stop and ask
yourself if you're spreading any of the "germs" that can block unity from
happening. If you are, make a decision to use Smalley's three "antidotes"
to move towards unity.
Remember what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:2-3, "Be humble and
gentle. Be patient with act other, making allowance for each others'
faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy
Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace."
What a great challenge to put forth in your marriage. May God bless you in
Cindy and Steve Wright