The ability to be fully known and fully loved provides a safe environment like none other. Every person craves the ability to be truly authentic with one other individual in life.
Marriage is the God-given environment in which we should be able to be completely exposed and yet surprisingly accepted.
We are told from an early age to put our best foot forward. Our culture implicitly teaches relationships built upon conditional acceptance. We fear that if someone really knew us, there would be little to no chance of them actually loving us. This type of thinking leads us to portray some type of exhausting facade hoping to be approved.
If you live your entire life pretending to be someone you are not in hopes of being loved by someone you have fooled, you have lived a never-ending treadmill of relational turmoil. To achieve authenticity within your marriage, you let your guards down and expose yourself to your spouse where they really get to know you. While you may think that someone getting to know you might create relational distance, quite the opposite is true. If your spouse knows you and still sticks around, there is an emboldening freedom like none other.
You are known and actually loved despite it.
This type of marriage provides the suitable help your soul has been craving. You know you need assistance in life, and being authentic confesses that reality. Being authentic means that you know where each of you needs help. When your awareness meets your willingness, you are primed to remove the lonely designator from your spouse.
Marriage is meant to be a place where you can share your highs and your lows. You should feel safe to share when you’ve fallen without fear of being kicked while you are down. You should be able to express your fears with the hope of hearing reassuring encouragement. You should eagerly share your craziest wishes without worrying about being discouraged.
You should work to create an environment within your home as a place where you can be really you and really accepted.
The roadblocks to this type of intimacy are distrust or displacement.
Distrust is a common reaction when people disappoint us. Whenever we are hurt, we are hesitant to open up again. Your spouse or anyone of significance can cause such pain, that it causes you to hide emotionally from being vulnerable again. If you refuse to be known, you will never know the power of being loved fully.
Displacement can rob us of authenticity because it gives to someone else what belongs to your spouse. If someone knows you better than your partner, you are giving someone greater emotional access than the one intended to share that level of connection with you. True intimacy within marriage is when no one shares any connection deeper than the spouse.
Authenticity doesn’t happen just because you share vows together. It takes studying each other. It requires serving each other. When hurt, you have to work harder to stay known rather than reverting to covering up. If marriage is meant to address our helpless and alone state, we must work hard to maintain the authenticity God gifted us through marriage.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.