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Oneness in Marriage: Not Too Close but Not Too Far Away


There are two sinful extremes to which we often go when it comes to the degree of intimacy/closeness/connection we share in our marriage. One one end is a wife being enmeshed with our husband (or “codependent”) and on the other end is a wife being distant, unplugged, passive – maybe even cold. (Husbands do these things, as well, of course – but I am writing for wives.)

Yes, marriage is about oneness. But we need to understand what that means – and what it doesn’t mean.

Oneness does not mean a sick relationship where there are no boundaries between individuals and people try to be responsible for other people’s emotions, feelings, and decisions rather than for themselves. It is not about us controlling other people and getting them to do what we want them to do. It is not about self. It is not primarily about our feelings. The goal is not our temporary happiness. It is not about constant and uninterrupted verbal/emotional contact. The goal is holiness, unity, pleasing God, and blessing our husbands.

In godly oneness, each spouse is competent and whole spiritually/emotionally and free to make his/her own choices.

Each spouse knows he/she is responsible for his/her own emotions, spiritual growth, decisions, sin, and obedience to God. They are fully dependent on Christ to meet their deepest needs, not each other. Jesus is the priority far above the marriage. They understand the sufficiency of Christ and can be content whether they have their way or not. They make lots of time to spend privately with God. They abide in His Spirit and His Word. He gives them the power they need to be godly people and spouses. They each long for God’s will to be done far above their own will.

It could be helpful to read the definitions of enmeshment and codependent relationships on Wikipedia.

If a girl’s family had improper boundaries, or she felt responsible for things that really only the parents should have been responsible for, or she felt that she had to be the “grown up” and there was much dysfunction – that daughter may grow up thinking that enmeshment is “normal intimacy” and may get very upset when her husband doesn’t allow her to control him and is repelled by her attempts at smothering him and and violating his boundaries.

He will interpret her trying to be enmeshed with him as intrusive and oppressive control, not intimacy. She will feel that her husband is rejecting her love, but it is really her lack of respecting his boundaries, his free-will, and the feeling of being controlled that he rejects – not real love.

I am using the “psychology terms” just to give us a way to describe these situations that are unhealthy where people are overly attached or try to be overly bonded and overly responsible for others – or where a wife tries to control her husband (of course, sometimes it is the husband doing the controlling – and that is an equally destructive problem, too).

What is going on here in spiritual terms – I would say – would be idolatry of our husbands/marriages/romance/connection, a lack of trust in God, a lack of understanding of free-will, and a lack of understanding of God’s sovereignty.

This is where we have self on the throne of our lives and/or another person, our feelings, or marriage/emotional intimacy with our husbands on the throne of our lives. Or we may also have people’s approval as an idol – something we value more than Christ in our hearts. These idols are not generally conscious. We don’t purposely worship them or bow down to them. We may say we believe in God and trust Him – but what we say doesn’t match up with how we live and our subconscious motivations.

When we ask God to help us evaluate our priorities, our greatest desires, our biggest fears, and how we actually live – He can help us see the idols in our hearts. John Calvin said, “the human heart is an idol factory.” We can make almost anything more important than God in our hearts and turn it into an idol – trying to find our security, identity, contentment, purpose, and fulfillment in that thing rather than in God. We are not fully submitted to Christ as Lord of all in our lives. 

If my husband, his attention, his approval, his affection, his romantic gestures, my personal happiness at the moment, my having my way, my being in control, etc… are the most important things to me… my priorities are out of line with God’s commands for me. He must be the absolute most important thing/person in my life. Period. If I am looking to something else other than God and trusting something besides God, I am an idolator. Idolatry is serious sin in God’s eyes. Just read the Old Testament and see what became of people and nations who engaged in idolatry. (Verses about idolatry)

Generally – the signs that I have idols in my heart will be things like – great worry, fear, and anxiety. I do not have God’s peace and joy. My motives are fear-based and my sinful nature is in charge of my life as I try to control things over which I actually have no control rather than my understanding where my responsibilities end, where other people’s and God’s responsibilities begin, and trusting in the sovereignty of God.

Emotional/spiritual intimacy in marriage is not about violating healthy boundaries with my husband.

Healthy intimacy in marriage is not about me taking over my husband’s decisions and his free will and trying to force him to submit to me. It is not about me having self on the throne of my heart and expecting my husband and God to bow to me (which is what I unknowingly did for many years.) It is also not about him taking over my free-will and trying to force me to submit to him. It is about each of us having the space and freedom to make our own decisions, to have our own thoughts, to have our own lives and interests – and it is about our ability to freely allow each other to draw near and pull back in safety. There is a bit of distance in a healthy marriage that is lacking in a codependent/enmeshed marriage.

To a wife who thinks that being enmeshed = intimacy, it can be terrifying for her to give a healthy amount of space at first.

She will probably feel that she is being unloving. She may feel that healthy space = doom to the marriage and that her husband will go farther and farther away and stop loving her if she gives him that kind of room. She may feel that constant attention, tons of time together, constant communication, affection, and frequent sex are gifts of intimacy. (She will likely measure her husband’s “level of love” for her by these yardsticks and find him to be lacking – she is insatiable. No matter how much time, attention, and affection her husband gives, it is never enough when he is her idol. She is expecting him to meet the deepest needs of her soul that only Jesus can meet.) She may have a tough time understanding that her husband may need some space to think, to breathe, to be himself, to make his own decisions, and to be a man – and that space she gives him is a gift. To her, space is punishment – not a gift. So she can barely bring herself to give him the space he needs so that he can love her in a healthy way. Unfortunately, a wife who believes space is always a punishment and who will not give the gift of space and freedom will sabotage her marriage and her desires for real intimacy.

Thankfully, she can learn to give a healthy amount of space and that will actually draw her husband closer to her – not in a sick way, but in a godly way.

Healthy intimacy looks and feels a lot different from sick intimacy and it looks a lot different from one spouse being emotionally unplugged and shut down. It is kind of like having your husband at arm’s length and holding his hand rather than having your hands around his neck and your nose one inch from his nose trying to dictate what he should do in every situation. But it is not about unhealthy amounts of distance that some spouses give to each other out of fear, shame, bitterness, or resentment.

You might be surprised, like I was, when I found out that Greg always felt connected to me – even when we weren’t talking and even when we were not together physically – unless I was being disrespectful or I said I felt disconnected. I have learned to rest in God’s love and Greg’s love and to enjoy feeling connected to them both all the time – regardless of circumstances.

A healthy marriage has interdependence, not codependence:

Interdependence means – (from the quality or condition of being interdependent, or mutually reliant on each other: Globalization of economies leads to an ever-increasing interdependence of countries.

Countries can be interdependent on each other and work together as a team. But they still have their own borders, boundaries, and their own rulers who make decisions independently for those countries. Yet, at the same time, they try to cooperate with other countries to accomplish a greater purpose and good.

For a wife who was trying to be enmeshed, healthy intimacy  is letting go of micromanaging and controlling him. It is allowing him to make choices and to disagree with her without freaking out. It is being vulnerable and not trying to protect self (unless a husband is involved in major unrepentant sin, true abuse, or is mentally unstable, high, or drunk – then a wife does need to protect herself. This post is not for wives in such situations). There is just the right balance of freedom, interdependence (rather than codependence), affection, connection, and space. Not too much space. And no one is trying to control the other spouse. Both spouses feel loved and respected. There is closeness at times, but not in a way that makes either spouse feel oppressed or smothered. And there is distance at times – but during the times of distance, the spouses rest in their love and respect for one another and know that they are still connected.

For a wife who was too far away – she will need to move toward being closer and getting more adjusted to sharing time, affection, space, and attention with her husband. She may feel a bit too smothered at times – and she may have to adjust to more closeness than she would like – as she and her husband try to find the right balance of closeness and space. There is always dying to self for each of us – we give up our will for God’s will and to bless our spouse.

We tend to overcompensate too much at first many times and swing too far one way, then too far the other way, but, in time (with God’s Spirit’s help) – we can learn to do this in a healthy way! The right balance may be different in different seasons of the marriage. This will require sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, to our husbands, and practice.


Help us to learn to have the right balance of closeness and space in our marriages. Open our eyes to any sin in our lives and deliver us. Let us repent in godly sorrow and be filled with Your Spirit to walk in obedience and holiness in Your sight. Help us to cling tightly to You and to honor You and become more and more the women You desire us to be for Your glory!



A Fellow Wife Thinks About Giving Space

When Your Man Needs Space

Why Should I Trust God? Why Should I Submit to His Lordship?

The Separation-Leads-to-Greater-Intimacy Paradox

My Identity in Christ Is My ONLY Source of Security

46 thoughts on “Oneness in Marriage: Not Too Close but Not Too Far Away

  1. This is a great blog. Thank you.

    I spend most of my day idolizing my husband. I live in anxiety, fear, and trying to figure out how to fix my marriage. Living like this is beyond exhausting. It’s a destructive form of worship.

    I swing from one side to the other. I want all of his attention and to fix me,to setting up walls, boundaries, and conditions.

    Today I ask for the wisdom to worship God. Only God. I ask for the strength to hand over to God my husband and our marriage. I ask for wisdom to let go and leave my anxieties at the throne..and NOT TAKE THEM BACK.

    1. Betsy,

      I’m really glad you see what is going on. Most of us don’t for many years or decades. Until God opens our eyes – we don’t even realize what the problem is – and we tend to think God needs to change our husband. Praise God for the times He shows us our sin so that we can turn from it completely and turn to Him!

      I love your prayer! I pray along with you, my dear sister, that God might empower you to trash any sin and to fully yield in submission to Christ as LORD of all in your life – and to trust and worship Him alone! May His peace, joy, and spiritual abundance fill your heart!

      Much love!!!!

    2. Betsy,

      Not taking our anxieties back after giving them to God is tough, and something I’m still working on, too. One thing that has helped me find a healthy balance in my marriage is remembering to develop my own talents and interests (reading, writing, hosting a book club, community activities, etc.) and take good care of ME, in addition to working hard to be a godly wife. It means I’m not dependent on my husband’s opinion for my inner joy and sense of self worth. As devastating and painful as it would be if he totally failed to be a godly husband, I would carry on, knowing God still loves and accepts me completely. If you look to your husband for total security and acceptance, you will be shaken and wounded to the core if he is the slightest bit imperfect, and that’s a heavy load for any man, to know that if he says or does something not quite right it will be the equivalent of setting off a bomb in his marriage.

      I became aware by reading the posts on this blog that I was unconsciously doing this and asked God to help me heal and live with a better, healthier way of thinking. I forgave my husband and give him grace because I need it so much myself. It takes time to create new patterns of thinking, so please don’t get discouraged. Remember to love yourself and find pleasure in developing and nurturing yourself and your own interests. It will make you a more interesting person to your husband, too, and leave less time for worrying about what he does or doesn’t think. With God’s help you will find the right balance in your life and marriage. Much love to you!

  2. Also I know a lot of things he likes and am constantly doing things to bless him.. I don’t necessarily get that in return but I am fine with blessing him that way because I know my husband blesses me on many different ways like loving me and providing for us and working so hard

    Unfortunately there has been many times in the past I have responded immaturely and just ridiculous when I am hurt or he decides to hangout with his friends:/

  3. Very timely for me to read. 🙂 How coincidental! (haha….not!)

    I feel like God is opening my eyes to this dynamic in my marriage of me being too enmeshed with my husband (and maybe him with me, as well). So crazy….I’ve been on the respect journey a couple of years – maybe three – and apparently, this is the next step.

    I think there were some dynamics early on in our marriage that led to me kind of surrendering all of myself to my husband in an effort to prove myself trustworthy to him. But, that led to some imbalance and now, 23 years into our marriage, I realize that I don’t know who *I* am, apart from marriage and having kids (not really speaking from a spiritual sense here, but more of the fact that I am my own person with interests, too). This is something God’s been leading me to think about for a few months. For some reason, the idea of dreaming has been coming to me — what were my dreams as a child, what are my passions and desires? I feel like somehow that part of me has died – I don’t even know how to dream for something anymore.

    The article makes me think of 1 Corinthians 7:29-31:

    “This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.”

    I remember being very confused by those verses when I first became a Christian, but now they make much more sense to me! (haha, as along with a previous verse in that chapter where those who are single are warned that they will have many troubles in this life if they are married — the truth is the truth, right!?) It really is one of the main truths that you are trying to get across in your blog, April – that in our marriages, we should not live for our marriage or our spouse, but for Christ.

    I’ve been realizing that when my husband and I are in social settings, we are far too attached to each other and seem to be nervous to let the other one get too far away. There’s a lot wrapped up in why we do that (insecurities, past junk, etc.)….and maybe for a time, it’s what was needed. But, I sense God is going to do something in our relationship with all of that.

    Here’s to the next step! 🙂

    1. Jennifer,

      I’m so excited to get to hear about how your journey is going and to see the joy you have in trusting Christ as you begin to explore more about what it means to belong fully to Christ and to have healthy space in marriage. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for you both! Thank you very much for sharing. You are a blessing!

      I am not sure if you have seen the posts I have about insecurity and security, but you can search those terms on my home page if you are interested. Another good search might be “fear” and “how to make your husband an idol.”

      Much love!

  4. Marie,

    It is important to share with your husband if you have concerns about a situation that is not good, or even sinful. It is important to share how much stress it causes you and how much grief. I think wives can do that respectfully. There can be times when we may need to give ultimatums – I pray God might give us His wisdom and pure motives if we believe we need to go to those lengths.

    I’m glad that your husband is not hanging around him anymore.

    Praying for healing for you both!

  5. Peaceful Wife – a couple months ago I found your blog and drafted a comment i never posted but saved it in my emails and I want to share it with you. I so appreciate hearing about what you have learned and i am hopeful about my own relationship. i have started to see tiny improvements (along with a lot of the same negativity that has become a pattern) but more importantly i am much more self-aware and feel empowered knowing i am in control of my behavior (if not my emotions). I subscribed to your blog yesterday and am thrilled to be receiving these very-needed messages right in my inbox! Thank you so much.

    june 19-
    I echo the above comment- I sought out something that could help me after having the loneliest, angriest, saddest night in our marriage yet. Besides God, I haven’t known where to turn for validation and empathy among other loved ones without throwing my seemingly heartless husband under the bus or exposing my own stupidity in marrying someone who doesn’t love me (both of those are negative thought patterns I need to eventually eradicate, but they have nonetheless taken root). When I typed a phrase into Google I was expecting to find maybe some random Yahoo pages/chat rooms where people just randomly gripe about their lives…but to find your blog and all the amazing resources therein has been such a blessing and has really carried me through the day.

    I now know that I am not alone in my despair of being unloved by the person I most desire love from – and that there is hope for our relationship. The idea of being “submissive” does elicit a reaction of distaste but after reading several of your posts so far I think my views are changing about what it means to be submissive. I will be trying some of these behaviors to see how they impact my spirit and the state of our relationship. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences. Again, your blog is answering what I’ve previously assumed are futile prayers.

    1. P.S. When I read this particular post I was reminded of a quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift from the Sea.” I didn’t understand what she was talking about it when I first read it but I am starting to now. Sharing it here:

      “When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

      The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”
      ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

      1. Reba,

        Oh wow! THIS IS SO GOOD! What a beautiful illustration of how intimacy is in human relationships – the ebb and flow of the tide. Thank you very much for sharing!

  6. Wow (words of wisdom)
    This is an excellent article was hard to read because it’s so sad and true and relevant to my life .I’m guilty …. I’m anxious, worried scared all of the negative emotions mentioned. I can I. Some way related to each women’s reply .
    I am not a new wife been at this for 16 years now but it has gotten worse over the past 2 years (the worry anxiety and insecurities ) A few weeks ago I had a major blow up ….. didn’t resolve much if anything. .. but slowly and with a kind lady’s chats and advice I have noticed the need for my personal healing and the need to change the way I relate to my God as well as my husband . It’s really hard work and I have only just started but I want that PEACE & SECURITY and I need the grace and forgiveness that only God can give .
    Thanx for an awesome article.

  7. I love how God’s wisdom flows through your blog, April! Praying for the ladies on here as well. 🙂 The Lord continually shows me idols that I didn’t realize were idols (for example even Christian music artists, and Christian things). I love the Lord so much and my daily quiet time with Him that I do every day is my little retreat that I love dearly. This article made me think of something that I do that I could use prayer for. Sometimes when I’m having my morning time with the Lord, my husband will come in the room and hug me. I get defensive most of the time and I know defensiveness is not of the Lord, so I want to be healed of anything that would make me defensive. I have prayed for years that my husband and I would love the Lord Jesus Christ more than we love each other and I agree with your article. In the beginning of our marriage (8 years ago or so), he (my husband) was like an idol to me and I stopped having my daily quiet time with the Lord. Our marriage was hard then, probably our first year of marriage. Yet I had to go back to realizing the Lord is still my husband, and my All in All. I love the verse In Isaiah 54:5, “Your Maker is your Husband – the Lord Almighty is His name”. Many years ago (maybe 6 or 7) I began praying scripture based prayers over our marriage daily~ that was amazing how God worked through those prayers I mostly prayed them out of Stormie Omartian’s books but also straight from God’s Word. Sometimes I worry that my husband will put me before the Lord and that worries me, maybe that’s why I get defensive if he interrupts my God-time even for a hug. I’m not sure, please pray for me to be set free from all defensiveness in Jesus’ name. Amen!

  8. Hello April,

    I am new to your blog and videos after feeling a call in my heart to reevaluate my relationship with Jesus Christ. He and I have only just recently started going to church regularly as a family. I professed to be Christian but was far from it! I am so blessed that we have a forgiving God that will forgive me for my sins. I am in the baby steps of starting to be a submissive wife and am trying to keep positive. I am struggling with my husband’s chronic lying about little things like to large things like finances. I am trying to say quiet to avoid an argument and praying constantly for myself and my husband to find God’s peace and wisdom.

    Thank you for your testimony and ministry,


    1. Thank you April for your response. I am going to being praying over these questions because i felt God tugging on my heart as I read them. I appreciate your suggestions and will read your other posts as well. God Bless!

      1. Kelly,

        Take your time, my sweet sister! The more deeply you prayerfully consider these questions before God – the better. He can help you sort out what needs to go and what is causing destruction in your life. And He can direct your steps as you allow Him to help you get rid of the sinful ways of thinking and rebuild on the Rock of Christ and His Truth.

        Much love!

    1. Anonyman,



      For most women, although other ladies are welcome to share their definition, it is talking face-to-face about feelings/relationship/spiritual things in a way that causes people to feel bonded and more loving toward each other. Women bond with words. Especially words about love and emotions.

      Sitting and talking over dessert or coffee and just enjoying talking and getting to know someone and sharing our hearts – would be a very emotionally connecting experience for most women. 🙂

      1. Thanks. I didn’t want to load the question with any guidance, I was hoping for an answer like that.

        I’m trying to think if there’s anyone on the planet I have an “emotional connection” to at all. I respect certain people, I have friendships with them, I enjoy people’s company. This “emotional connection” word is making me wonder if it’s a synonym or something almost feminine.

        Sometimes I feel like men are all suffering from low-level autism disorders or something……..

        1. Anonyman,

          I think that one issue is that women receive a bit boost of oxytocin (the bonding hormone) from talking about relationship and feelings and from positive, direct eye contact. I don’t think most men experience this. Men experience a boost of oxytocin during sex – which causes men to feel very bonded to their wives. But many wives feel more bonded and connected to their husbands by having deep, personal, joint-prayer, and heart-sharing discussions.

          God designed women to focus primarily on relationships. Men are not wired the same way. But women were created to focus on their husbands’ needs, their children’s needs, their aging-parents’ needs – and they tend to identify themselves through their relationships. Men tend to identify themselves through what they do and their career. (These are generalizations, of course.)

          So – men tend to have to stretch toward meeting their wives’ needs in areas where they may not really feel as much desire. And, often, women have to stretch toward meeting their husbands’ needs in areas where they may not really feel as much desire. This means we must all learn to be selfless, dying to self, seeking to become holy and to do what is best for our spouse rather than just look out for our own interests. God often uses this as a process of sanctification for us both.

          A lot of men don’t bond with words – verbal or written. Thankfully, I don’t think it has anything to do with autism, necessarily :), but with the structural differences of our brains. I spent years trying to show love and bond with my husband verbally and with emails and letters – not realizing that it really didn’t do much for him. That was a shock to me to realize that he doesn’t bond that way. I don’t think a lot of women realize that men don’t bond this way. And – it doesn’t help that we have so many romantic movies/shows/books that portray men as if they CAN emotionally bond with words the same way a woman would. Another thing that is confusing, from a woman’s perspective, is that it SEEMS like a man bonds with words emotionally when we are dating/courting. So – it can be a big surprise to a wife when things don’t continue on like that indefinitely. But – women change after marriage, too, in ways men often don’t predict. We all have room to grow!

          1. Anonyman,

            Here is one thing, that may be helpful for men – women usually process their emotions by talking. For us, talking about our negative feelings can be a way of working through them to a resolution. Just the act of talking about them to someone and feeling supported and encouraged is a blessing to us – and helps us to heal emotionally. Perhaps a husband could look at listening – sometimes to her negative feelings, too – could be giving her a gift. It is very much a way that he can help “fix things” for her. I hope that makes sense!

            Sharing her heart – to a wife – is how she tries to bond with her husband. That is how she bonds with her girlfriends, after all! That is usually the main way women bond with others.

            For many women – an emotional connection opens the way to a desire for more sexual intimacy. If she does not feel emotionally connected – she may feel unsafe or uncomfortable to open up sexually with her husband.


            Let’s understand that for men, many of them need a sexual connection to open the way to greater emotional connection. And for many husbands, a sexual connection IS an emotional/spiritual connection in marriage.

  9. Well, after reading this, I feel like I’m starting from square one. Yes, I do believe I am guilty of enmeshment. There was quite a bit of neglect, abandonment and silence in my childhood, so that makes me cling very tightly to my husband. I am just recently learning how to give respectful space. I see that at times where I feel that my husband is taking me for granted, or not being as nice as he could be, it may be because he doesn’t have the space to miss me, or pursue me (I’ve also dug back into your earlier post about stopping the pursuit of husbands at this point….I think that will be a printout for me). This causes me to push harder, to try harder, and that never ends well. Things have been inflamed lately as my husband has been very stressed at his job. And our lack of physical intimacy due to my cycle has been so challenging and lonely for me that I almost feel as if connection has just been broken between us.

    I am taking this opportunity to stay a little distant from him so that I can see what the Lord has in store for us. I am asking Jesus to be my spouse during this difficult time of “space”. I am still respectful towards my husband but in my heart I can’t help but feel disappointment and a tad bitter. Luckily, he hasn’t picked up on that but I realized that right now I just can’t make him my “be all and end all”.

    I would appreciate any advice and prayers!! 🙂

    1. Mrs. G.,

      I’m so glad this was helpful and a bit eye-opening. I hate to hear about the issues from your childhood. That breaks my heart! I wish no child had to deal with those kinds of painful issues. 🙁 I wish I could hug your neck!

      For many women who are Type A, take charge, get things done quickly kinds of women – giving our men a bit of space can really recharge the dynamics in the marriage. The key is to give space as a gift – lovingly and respectfully (understanding that it helps your husband to be able to breathe and to have room to come toward you when he is ready to) – not resentfully or with bitterness.

      I hope to run a post soon about a concept that a wife shared earlier in this thread about how intimacy in marriage is like the ebb and flow of the tide. I really love that. We can learn much wisdom in sitting and enjoying the tide coming in (when our husbands draw closer to us) but then allowing the tide to do what it does and retreat a bit without us freaking out. We can trust that (unless there are major issues going on) – our husbands will continue to have a cycle of coming nearer and then pulling away a bit. That is normal. Men sometimes need to go off by themselves (in their man cave – as John Gray described in Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus). But if we give them freedom to come and go (not to commit adultery or anything like that) but just to come closer then be to themselves for awhile to recharge – we may find that the times they come closer are much sweeter, and that we can be calm and content when they do pull away a bit. We can understand that they just need some space or time to themselves at times, it is not a personal thing against us – and they probably feel equally connected to us through the entire cycle. My husband does. He does not connect with words and emotions – so his feeling connected to me isn’t really about how much we have talked lately or if we have been able to be together one-on-one a lot lately. That was news to me a few years ago! Kind of an important piece of info!

      Jesus can meet your deepest needs for spiritual/emotional connection ALL the time in ways your husband never can. Even when your husband draws near to you – Jesus must be much closer to your heart than your husband. Not in a romantic way. But in a way that you are continually connected to Him, abiding in His Word, in prayer, and in praise and thanksgiving to Him – always aware of Him, seeking to put Him far above all else and to fully submit to Him every moment of every day. You can have such sweet intimacy with Christ that is way beyond anything any human could ever offer.

      Instead of feeling bitter that he doesn’t think and feel like a woman, and that he is different from you in how he bonds and connects – I vote to see this as an adventure where you get to explore his world of masculinity and learn and discover many things about him along the way. Cling to Christ alone for security, contentment, purpose, identity, acceptance, love, peace, joy, and strength. And enjoy the interactions your husband has with you – but don’t cling to him as if you must have his attention or you can’t live. Does that make sense? And even when he comes close, he cannot ever be your “be all and end all.” He will always have to be kind of at “arms-length” compared to that enmeshed desires and compared to what you can experience with Jesus. You are SUPPOSED to be “enmeshed” with Jesus – meaning, you are one with Him in Spirit, His Spirit fills you and you allow Him to control you. That is the only healthy enmeshed relationship – although enmeshed isn’t really the right word. Spirit-filled would be more appropriate.

      If we idolize our husbands – which I did, unknowingly, for many years – we become a black hole of neediness that is absolutely insatiable. Husbands eventually give up because they realize we are never satisfied – that repels them from us. But if we are satisfied in Christ, they feel safer to come near and to enjoy the glow of our warmth and joy.

      Much love to you!

  10. It has been freeing to learn there are ways to live out one’s faith in consideration of the spouse even when so many churches have their particular rules. My particular husband would love to talk about emotions, psychology, ideas and values in a way that’s completely unrelated to our relationship, religion or belief issues. That’s very difficult for me when these matters go unresolved in our household. I’m hoping we get to the place where we can discuss both. Interdependence and trust are ongoing areas of learning for me definitely.

    1. Refined,

      I know things are particularly challenging in your situation. I can definitely understand why there is still learning to do. I think we all have lots of learning still to do! I know I do. I pray for God’s insights and wisdom for you, my dear sister!

  11. Reblogged this on Victorian Tomboy and commented:
    a read that hits home for me! I had to pass it along. Theres great wealth in this blog!

  12. I am still a work in progress. And I am just now seeing this write up. Don’t know how I missed it but God knew the right time when my heart would need to read it. And this morning has been hard, for the exact reason that this article was written! You said that in the beginning, you tend to swing too far one way then to the other. Thats where I am at. Its a daily work. I just miss my husband so much. And when I get to missing him ( intimately ) then my mind starts going places. He is under a LOT of stress right now, that I know will pass. ( job changes ) Then we will reconnect again. He even went so far as to tell me to please be patient with him cause he knows he isnt “tending to my needs.” I love him and he is so thoughtful. He has always been like a drug for me!!! And I am going thru withdrawals! But I will overcome and our marriage will come out of this victorious!

    1. Victoriantomboy,

      I am so glad God used this to bless you and that the timing was just perfect today. Thank you for sharing! I love what God is doing in your life! 🙂

  13. April, and anyone else still in this topic-I read this when you posted and saw signs of enmeshment which I received, but didnt spend too much time on as me and hubby were in a good space. Fast forward to today, when I have had a horrible fight with my husband, and I realize I have to get free from this enmeshment or my marriage is doomed.
    My question is-how do you NOT put marrital intimacy as an “idol” and still try to make our marriages whatGod intended by reading this blog? I feel like I dont put my husband HIMself as an idol like I used to, but working on the marriage is my aim, so how can I actively do that but not make it an idol?

    1. Thanks for replying Lmsdaily! I’m trying to be a respectful wife, which is why Im on this blog and have been doing the work for about 2 yrs. I know I may still have some idol worship in me-but I dont know how to let go of the idol of my marriage without letting go also of doing the hard work it takes to be a respectful wife!
      Hopefully April will chime in or do a post on where the line is😊

    2. Blessed,
      I have TONS of posts about this! As you focus on your walk with Christ and make sure to put Him first, that is the biggest thing. But some clues that you may be putting something ahead of Christ in your heart can be feelings of discouragement, disappointment, rejection, loneliness, fear, anxiety, etc…

      If I have any of these kinds of feelings in my heart – I know I need to go spend time with God and journal and ask Him to help me look at my motives to be sure I am not putting something before Him in my heart.

      You may want to search my home page for:

      – security
      – contentment
      – stop idolatry
      – idol
      – idolatry
      – tearing out the idols
      – identity in Christ
      – submission means holding the things of this world loosely (this post is about our submission to Christ)
      I think those may be some good places to start.

      Let me know what God is speaking to you – or if you have more you want to talk about. 🙂
      Much love to you!

    3. Regina,

      Yes, if you realize you are trusting other things/people/self or looking to them for contentment, identity, security, purpose, or fulfillment. That is usually a good sign that something is an idol. For some really good questions about what could be an idol, check out this post.

      When I feel really disappointed, frustrated, discouraged, afraid, upset – I know I need to go journal and pray and ask God to help me see my motives and make sure I am not trying to put something or someone else in God’s place.

      1. Thanks so much! I know u get tired of repeating yourself but sometimes we read the post and it doesnt hit us till later-and we need clarification. God bless your patience!
        LMS-I agree with April-no one knows your marriage but you, your husband and God. No one else should have a say…and listen to the Holy Spirit lead you.

        1. blessed,

          You know what? We all need the same truths repeated over and over again. I remember one book I read 2.5 years into this journey, I read over and over every single day for 3 months to try to wrap my head around the concepts and ingrain the new thinking habits into my mind.

          I understand that sometimes we will read things and not “get it” for years, even. I trust God to open eyes when it is the right time. 🙂 I don’t get tired of repeating things. 🙂 I felt like I was on the steepest learning curve EVER with this stuff – and my prayer is that God might somehow use me to bring the dots closer together for those who come behind me. It was SUCH a frustrating journey for the longest time!

          Much love to you!

  14. Thank you so much for all of your time and effort to provide sharpening for the saints! In the Bible, marriage seems to be, in my studies, a critical model for the Gospel, for Christ and the church, and for the Trinity.

    Can you please speak to Genesis 2:22-25? A man is to hold fast to his wife and they are to become one flesh. This is pretty powerful. God has literally taken a part of Adam and created his perfect helper. Becoming one flesh is similar to the Trinity. Maybe I am stretching that one? You use the words codependent and enmeshed, but I haven’t found them in the Bible. Each part of the Trinity acts separately but none of them are unaware of what the other is doing at any given time. But because the oneness of mind is holy, there can be no “enmeshment” or co-dependency”? I know God has godly jealousy but man has both sinful and godly jealousy.

    However, Adam says that she is bones of his bones and flesh of his flesh. This seems incredibly honoring and sacred, but in light of the world’s interpretation, it may fall prey to misinterpretation. It is difficult to imagine two people so bonded and and joyous in the Lord without their personal freedoms. Eve acted without checking in with Adam and Adam forgot to be thoughtful of his being one flesh with Eve. And look where that got them 🙂 Bones of bones and flesh of flesh doesn’t seem to have any boundaries and kind of sounds like a sick kind of intimacy, or at least a bit weird. Maybe God has a special plan for marriage that is nothing like the world.

    Could God’s way of that kind of oneness be possible without attaching worldly enmeshment and codependency? What would that look like? Do we have to call it sick or weird? Could the example of Adam and Eve be a “Don’t do this” model? The worlds enmeshment and codependency speaks about a person’s boundaries, but within the Biblical marriage model, do we really have “his”/ “hers”? What about “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” 1 Corinthians 7:4 I know this is in relation to sex, but when we are of one flesh, have we not become partners for the Gospel, for learning to live out God’s word together, and for glorifying God? Are we not to be true helpers for our husbands to point them always to God’s plan for marriage? I imagine that both spouses are to consider the other more important than themselves in their decision making instead of “controlling” one another’s choices? But aren’t we suppose to let God determine our choices? So then is it personal preferences and then husband’s are to love their wives like Christ loved the church? At what point is a wife no longer putting Jesus first or allowing herself to be deceived by foolish slumber?

    Do you think it is just easier to go with the world on this one instead of really honoring God’s plan for marriage? Is it possible that so many wives experience husbands who aren’t engaged in their marriage Biblically that falling into a worldly perspective on marriage isn’t easier?

    Such a hard balance. The spiritual battle is so incredibly real and I am very thankful for your continued study of God’s word so that we may benefit from how God is growing you in wisdom and discernment.

    May God’s blessings always be upon you, your marriage, and all the marrieds who come to your site.
    Love in Christ!

    1. Ashley,

      Hope to respond more later – but when I talk about codependency or being enmeshed – that is where we idolize another person and/or try to make that person responsible for things that are really our responsibility or we try to make ourselves responsible for things that are really not our decisions to make. Yes, absolutely, we are to have oneness! But there is a healthy way to have oneness where we are totally dependent on Christ. We are first united with Him. Then we have the power, wisdom, discernment, love, and selflessness we need to properly be one in a healthy way with our husbands. Does that make sense?

      1. Thank you for responding to this! I found it from going back to your blog as I didn’t get a message in my email. I am just learning about this oneness. My girlfriend recently shared that two becomes one flesh as soon as we get married, so there is nothing we can DO to make oneness happen or make it better. It already has been done, by God Himself. And He will continue to grow us in oneness as we continue to walk in obedience to His word and keep our focus on Him. But we can live in a way that creates separation, which is not in obedience to God’s word. (Mark 10:9) Is this what you have learned as well from your studies and prayer? It actually was pretty helpful for me. The challenge is when spouses are not of one mind and unwilling to seek God’s word and guidance on each matter. Husbands have a really hard role to fulfill by God’s standards! I am praying more for my husband these days, 🙂

        I have been trying to study a lot lately, so I have many thoughts going through my mind to write, but I will wait till you have time to respond. I’m sure you are responding to an incredible number of people. Praying for the Lord to give you clear thinking and direction and sustenance.

        Love in Christ,

        1. Ashley,

          This is so beautiful. YES! That is a perfect description of oneness in marriage. Thank you very much for sharing. 🙂 Yes we are to live in oneness in the power of God’s Spirit. Not in an enmeshed way where we idolize our husbands or want them to idolize us, but in a healthy balanced way where Christ is first and where we don’t contribute to division, contention, or strife.

          Husbands do have a very difficult role – probably more difficult than ours, even. I’m so glad you are seeing that and that you are praying for your husband more. That is awesome!

          I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and what you are learning. It sounds like God is showing you a lot of amazing things.

          1. Hi April,

            I am praising God for the time He opens for you to respond! I am truly humbled. Thank you for clarifying some of my thinking and for encouraging me to pray more for my husband. I am praying about what to write, but am not confident in my organization of thoughts. Please pray for God’s leading and for me to keep a humble heart so I can continue to grow in the knowledge of His will for me and my marriage.

            Thank you again for all of your writing and prayers!! I’m sure I will ask more questions in the future as I just ordered the Love and Respect book/workbook set, 🙂

            Much love in Christ,

  15. Just read your note. Praise the Lord that she is experiencing great joy and peace in heaven. What a true blessing. Prayers for your family and thank you for your commitment to this blog.

    Love in Christ

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