I have been married for over 3 1/2 years to my wonderful wife Nadine. I was married for close to 35 years to my late wife Cynthia. It wasn’t until recently that I began to get another picture of what becoming one flesh meant.
For all of my life I have heard that the phrase becoming one flesh meant a physical union of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. In Genesis 2:24 it says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” The shall become is a present perfect verb signifying that there is a point in time that this process starts and continues indefinitely into the future. I also believe that not only is becoming one flesh a physical union, but also a spiritual union that is becoming, a social union that is becoming, a mental union that is becoming, an emotional union that is becoming, a parental union that is becoming, a financial union that is becoming, etc. Marriage is a relational connection of the husband and wife to one another in every area of life.
But in the last few months I have stumbled upon another aspect of becoming one flesh that I would like to put forth. I’m not talking about any of the becomings that I have identified in the previous paragraph. So you might ask, “Then what are you saying?” Well here it is.
When Nadine and I go to bed we like to snuggle. We like to get close together with one another and have our feet and legs touching one another when we go to sleep as well as our holding one another’s hand. In the initial moving into place, it is very clear to me that her foot is resting on the top of my foot. She may move her foot back and forth which I do like and am aware of the movement. But when she stops the movement of her foot, an interesting phenomena begins to happen. The feel of her foot begins to go away as well as the temperature of her foot, especially if it is cold. Her foot slowly but surely begins to meld into my foot to the point that I am unable to feel her foot on top of mine at all. The same experience happens to my hand on hers over time. If there is no movement of the hand, I begin to lose the sensation that I am touching her hand. It’s as if my feeling for her hand disappears and I am only touching myself. If my focus of attention is on staying connected to the foot or hand, any sensation of hot or cold begins to meld into feeling nothing but oneness with her.
In contrast, if my focus of attention is on how cold her foot is and I continue to focus on the external situation of her foot, I have a tendency pull away from the iciness of the appendages. If the foot is too hot, it causes my foot to want to jump outside the bed covers to cool off. Depending on where my focus of attention is determines whether I experience oneness with her foot and hand or separate my body from her foot and hand. If I focus on the external circumstances (hot or cold), I disconnect. If my focus is on staying put, the circumstances change and I begin to experience a sense of oneness.
This phenomenon of experiencing oneness can have many parallels in our personal relationships with others. If we are seeking to connect with a spouse, a child, or a friend, we focus on the positive aspects of that relationship and are drawn into a closer bond with that person. If however, we focus on the areas of concern, problems that come between us, or well on the negative aspects of the person, our natural tendency will be to disconnect from the one that could bring us great joy and happiness.
On the journey, it’s so important to place our focus on the right things in our relationships with others. That perspective will decide whether we experience oneness or isolation. Choose wisely.