Marriage: The Place Where the Leaves Come Off

Human beings are so vulnerable. I think of Adam and Eve in the garden trying to cover their shame with leaves. We’re all like that, doing all we can to hide the imperfect parts of our fragile selves.

For that reason, marriage is scary. It’s the place where the leaves come off.

I had a friend in college who was petrified of the thought that her husband might want to have sex with the lights on. Another friend waited to tell his fiance some pretty big secrets until their honeymoon—figuring then she couldn’t back out. I remember being worried of what Justin would think of me when he realized I didn’t brush my teeth faithfully—now I’ve gone ahead and told the world. Great.

Of course, we all have have weaknesses, failures and secrets, some small some big. And the reality is that we cannot keep them from our spouses. Perhaps you’ve tried. I think it’s a losing battle—One I’m actually happy to lose.

Here’s the bright side for me, the reason I see this as a blessing and not a curse: My husband has been faithful with my secrets. He’s received them graciously and protected them valiantly. He also walks beside me in my weakness, lifting me when I need it and encouraging me to press on when I need that.

I have honestly never regretted making myself vulnerable to my husband.

But I would imagine others have.

Because sometimes, the person who knows the most about you, your partner til death do you part, uses their knowledge to hurt, not help.

Most of us can see the evil, the absolute treason, in such an act. But consider the following questions and be honest with your response:

  • Have you ever made a comment at a crowded dinner table about how much food your spouse eats?
  • Have you ever laughed about how inept your husband is with the kids in conversation with your girlfriends?
  • Have you ever dogged your wife’s cooking? Complained to others about how much money she spends?
  • Have you ever described your spouse as “stubborn,” “stupid,” “exhausting,” “foolish,” “crazy,” etc. to others?
  • Have you ever used your spouse to get a laugh?
  • Have you ever pushed your spouse down to make yourself look better?

It’s gross but true: married people do this all the time. I feel so awkward around some couples, people who carry a quiver of spouse-insult-arrows and shoot them freely, even (perhaps especially) in front of others, revealing in public what was shared in private.

This is wrong on so many levels. When we act like our spouse is our very own punching bag, we stomp on a selfless gift, we attack our very own flesh, and we make our spouse our adversary instead of our partner.

Marriage cannot work if it’s not a safe place.