Trait: I have a relationship with God as well as close friends and don’t expect my spouse to meet every need.
As a couple’s counselor, one my tasks is to dispel the myths and fantasies about romance that have permeated the people’s thinking. When Josh & Karen came into my office, their marriage was in shambles and both were in a state of deep despair. Karen looked at me pleadingly and insisted “If he were my soul mate, then we would be ‘one’ as God intended and I would feel completely comfortable and fulfilled!” I empathized with her pain and reassured her that though her feelings were common, her dream was romance-novel-babble. (It is common to hear the words psycho-babble and religious-babble, so I decided to make up a new word… in the moment… much to her chagrin).
Her desire was even inaccurate theologically. No fallen human being can meet all of our needs because they are not omnipresent, omniscient nor omnipotent. Therefore no one will be present enough, knowledgeable enough or powerful enough to meet our every need. If we really want to be accurate biblically, a full transformation from our brokenness will not occur until we are in God’s presence and we are shed of our flesh which has been damaged and corrupted. As I said in our last blog, Kay and I have spent the last 25 years growing and re-parenting one another. Yet deeply tied to this journey was the fact that we each had to do deep individual work to lay aside idealized thinking and become realistic about life and love. This includes the fact that emotional and relational struggles will always be with us and that any spouse will be limited by time and energy to be able to come along side and cheer me on.
Having said that, a healthy marriage should always be growing and increasing in security, safety and bonding each and every year. But this takes a lot of work and hundreds of trips around “The Comfort Circle” (How We Love, Waterbrook Press 2006, Chapters 15-19) to maintain a steady pace of growth. Remember, for the person trying to honor God in their life, every aspect of life is swimming upstream, so if we stop working, we automatically drift backward.
Not long ago, I was eagerly looking forward to Kay coming home from work because I was agitated about something and wanted to process with her. When she walked through the door, not only was she tired from a full day of clients, but she was coming down with the flu and was headed to bed. I told her I really needed to talk and she said, “I can’t be there for you right now, could you call one of your good friends [not someone of the opposite sex] and ask them to help meet your needs?” After settling her in bed, I had some prayer time with the Lord, and then I called one of my friends and processed my frustration. After a while, I began to feel a sense of relief and peace.
Secure connectors have realistic expectations about themselves, others, relationships, life and God and have multiple sources for relief and comfort. Who’s on your team? Hopefully you are cultivating new and safe relationships that can love you and provide relief in addition to the comfort you experience with your spouse.
Thanks for listening,