And The Two Shall Become One: The Mathematics of Marriage
TWENTY SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The first reading of this 27th Sunday in ordinary times makes the case for what marriage is all about, and how God intended it to be. “It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a suitable partner for him”, says the Lord. Notice that Eve was not taken from Adam’s feet, and so she was not created to be his slave. She was not taken from Adam’s head, and so she was not created to be his boss. She was taken from Adam’s side, and so she was created to be his partner. What joy Adam must have felt when he woke up and saw this fellow human. He knew, immediately, that: (a) they were created for each other, “This, at last, is the bone of my bone and the flesh of my flesh”—created to be companions, partners, friends, etc.; (b) that they were created different from each other, “This one shall be called ‘woman’”—difference in gender, gifts, talents, and abilities; and (c) that they were created to be given to each other, “And the two shall become one flesh—to share life, procreate, and find fulfilment in each other. Put all these together and we can see why Scripture says, “Therefore, a man must leave father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall [weave] become one flesh”. Leave, cleave, and weave—the secrets of marital satisfaction.
Leave—Scripture says that a couple’s first and foremost priority, over and above parents, children, siblings, career, and friends, is their relationship. Nothing comes before it or between it. So, the first consideration in every decision or action must be your spouse otherwise, that decision or action is, intrinsically, faulted and wrong. Yes, a couple will love and care for parents, children, and friends, but their marriage must be first and foremost.
Cleave or Cling—a couple must also cleave to each other. In the original text, the word, “cleave or cling” means “to adhere firmly, to be strongly attached, never to let go”. So, a couple should never allow anyone or anything to separate or divide them against themselves, and they must do so with a consistent, persistent, and unyielding spirit. I know that this is difficult to accept, especially where problems already exist, but this is the real deal. It is only when a couple can “leave and cleave” are they able to develop an appropriate relationship with others and the world.
Weave—beyond “leaving” and “cleaving”, a couple must also be “weaving”, for Scripture says, “And the two shall become one flesh”. This involves the joy of knowing and being known, of loving and being loved, of sharing and being shared, and of giving and being given. For this to happen, a couple’s relationship, according to Ephesians 5:19ff, must be sacrificial—ready to lay down life for each other; sanctifying—doing whatever it takes to make each other the best he or she can be; satisfying—spicing it up and creating joyful memories for and with each other; sacramental—keeping God and Church in center of things; and forgiving—letting go of wrongs and hurts, with the full knowledge that you are not perfect either. There is no saint without a past and there is no sinner without a future.
So, “leaving, cleaving, and weaving” is the way God intended marriage to be. Yes, it is easier said than done, but it is the real “McCoy”. We must always remember that all things are possible for those who believe. I can, is not an emotion; it is a decision. We just need to know that holding unto hurts, not sacrificing for each other, not edifying each other, not creating joyful moments and memories, and keeping God by the wayside only serves to destroy a marriage and cause sadness for those in it. Let’s let go, let God, and start going. It is never too late to start.