Finding Oneness (Not Sameness) in Marriage

First, my apology for this longer-than-normal Wisdom for Men post. This one intends to dispel the notion that marriage is in decline. It also encourages you to find “oneness” in your marriage but also show how oneness can apply to all of your relationships.

Recently, my wife and I recently celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary, which reminded me of a saying related to marriage and —sadly, oftentimes divorce. It goes like this: “Over time, some spouses can become so similar that one of them is no longer necessary.” Now, I’d like to believe the comment was said “tongue-in-cheek” since it takes “two to tango” as the saying goes. However, I believe that marriage –or any relationship for that matter, is at its best when it finds “oneness” rather than a “sameness” that males it seem like one of you is unnecessary.  

Dispelling the Myths about Marriage

Contrary to popular belief, the marriage rate in America has actually on the rise and the divorce rate is decreasing. Another myth is that Christians are not as likely to divorce as everyone else. Read on as I explain more about both.

Marriage Rates Going Up

An article from CNN states new data released from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics shows the number of marriages actually increased in 2022. After a brief and understable during the COVID-19 lockdowns, the rate of marriage went up to 6.2 per 1,000 people. This is close to the 7 to 8 per 1,000 per year average over the previous two decades. 

Marissa Nelson, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Washington, DC indicates in the CNN article that the recent growth in marriage rates may be due to more than just rescheduling after the pandemic lockdowns eased. She believes the lockdown helped many couples become more intentional about how they approached important things like finances, compromise and autonomy. Its possible people came out of the pandemic with a better sense of what they need in a life partner. 

and Divorce is Declining

The even better news is that divorce rates are going down. In 2022, the divorce rate was 2.4 per 1,000 people, near the lowest rate ever of 2.3 in 2021. This continued the downward trend since 2000 when divorce was 4.0 per 1,000. Intentionality may also be behind fewer divorces, added Ms. Nelson. During the pandemic, couples may have discovered true love again and the reasons they married in the first place.

Committed Christians have Lower Divorce Rates

The common assumption is that more than 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. But, according to the latest research, those assumptions, especially among Christians, are untrue.

In her book The Good News About Marriage, Shaunti Feldhahn says that the data reveals a different story. Feldhahn, a Harvard-trained social researcher, states that the “50 percent” figure was not based on hard data, rather, a number that researchers thought the divorce rate would become after states passed no-fault divorce laws. “We’ve never hit those numbers. We’ve never gotten close,” Feldhan writes. According to her study, the overall divorce rate is around 33 percent.

Feldhahn also reexamined the data pertaining to divorce among Christians. Partnering with the George Barna Group, she says the numbers were based on survey-takers who identified under the broad classification as “Christian” rather than some other religion. Feldhan indicates the “Christian” category includes people who profess a belief system but do not live a committed lifestyle. Ironically, these “Nominal Christians“, (those who believe but do not actively engage with the faith) are actually 20 percent more likely than the general population to get divorced.

The data also shows that the divorce rate for “committed Christians” (those who are active participants in their church) is 27 to 50 percent lower than non-churchgoers. She also found that 72 percent of all married people are still married to their first spouse. And of those marriages, four out of five are happy.

The conclusion: marriage is still important and those that keep God at the center of their home and family, actually stay married and thrive at far greater rates.

Finding Oneness in Marriage

I’m a big fan of marriage and wrote previously about The Benefits (not Challenges) of Marriage (see my two-part series: here and here). While no marriage is perfect, my wife and I strive for what I call “oneness.” Whenever we have an occasional moment of “sameness” (such as finishing each other’s sentence or have the same idea for dinner), I immediately flip it around by intertwining my three fingers together and call it “oneness.” It reminds us of the biblical concept that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). 

In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon provides wisdom based on his own experiences living apart from God. Solomon’s life was full of foolishness and folly. He ignored the godly wisdom of the his advisors and strayed from the path of righteousness. The metaphor of a cord of three strands in Ecclesiastes 4:12 conveys that strength comes from unity with God. Whether applied to marriages, friendships, or communities, the verse emphasizes the importance of God as a foundational element. Fortunately, the king later recognized the error of his ways and began to include God in every aspect of his life. He found oneness with God.

Unity and oneness in marriage is formed when a husband and wife gain intimacy, trust, and understanding with one another. It is more than a mere mingling of two humans—it’s a merger of body, soul, and spirit. For today’s marriages, the image of three cords implies that you include Jesus Christ in the relationship. God sent His Holy Son to help us find unity and oneness with Him. Christ binds us together as the third cord in marriage. That strength gives you strength to resist all the temptations that derail too many marriages today .  

Three-Cords Also Works for Friendship

I’ve also come to believe that the best version of a friendship includes Christ. This type of friendship is what I call GodBuddies. Its where two friends share the common desire to become more like Jesus. This cord of three provides strength to keep them from slipping into isolation and loneliness. They have a oneness with Christ that is stronger than any weak alternative philosophy or unwholesome mindset. This three-corded bond keeps the friendship strong.

Including Jesus Christ as the third cord creates an ever-lasting bond with your spouse, your family and your friendships. Become one with Christ!

Wisdom for Men is based on my opinions on topics that help men become better men. The sources used for these posts are not fact-checked, but support my theory that men are better with deeper, more authentic friendships. My GodBuddy theory is based on biblical principles but applies to all men, regardless of their beliefs. Better friendships among men will help solve the crisis of male friendships and many of today’s problems… because the world needs better men!

[Feature Photo by Brooklyn MacNally on Unsplash. Sources: Marriage rates are up, and divorce rates are down, new data shows by Madeline Holcombe, CNN; Is the divorce rate among Christians truly the same as among non-Christians?, a post by Got Questions Ministries]


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