The two shall become one flesh. 

When Paul talks about two becoming one flesh, he is referring back to the story of creation in the Book of Genesis.   It’s a beautiful image, one that describes the kind of love and single-mindedness that God wants for every married couple.   But as lovely as the sentiment is, we know that no marriage is perfect. All couples have their ups and downs.   Nobody agrees all the time, and some marriages are on the verge of collapse because of disunity.

So what does unity in marriage mean in real life?

First, unity means developing a common heart and mind. Virtually every self-help manual focused on marriage emphasizes the need for good communication—and for good reason.   If they don’t discuss their goals, husbands and wives risk going in different directions.   This takes patience.   It takes a lot of listening.   It also takes flexibility and a willingness to compromise.   But it is well worth the effort.   Not only is there unity in the family, but the husband and wife are drawn that much closer to each other.

Second, unity means a readiness to forgive.   When one person offends the other, they should make it their number one priority to seek reconciliation.   Choosing humility over pride has a special power to melt the other person’s heart.   It invites the Holy Spirit to come and help the couple choose mercy over judgment.

Finally, unity means loving sacrificially.   It can sound grandiose, but sacrificial love usually shows itself in the small things:  helping with the dishes, listening attentively when your spouse has had a hard day, going out of your way to give your spouse a break from the kids when you are both tired.   Gestures like these never go unnoticed—by your spouse or by the Lord.

Of course, none of this is easy.   That’s why the greatest way to build unity is simply to pray.   Ask God to bless you and your spouse.   Don’t pray that your spouse become everything you expect them to be;  pray instead for the grace to love your spouse right now and to continue to lay down your life for them.

In the end, unity is a precious gift from God.   It’s a gift embedded in the Sacrament of Marriage that God gives to everyone who turns to him.

Word Among Us