Two in One

"I would not wait for you to ask [any questions] of me were I to in you as you now in me."

-- Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, Canto IX, 81.

Have you heard about the other way of writing the word "intimacy"?—"INTO ME, SEE." There's a valuable piece of marital wisdom embedded in this clever play on words.

Maybe you've heard something like this before. He says, "My wife's an enigma. I'm always hot; she's always cold. I like barbecue; she likes Thai food. I like action movies; she likes schmaltzy 'chick flicks.' I'm beginning to wonder if we should have gotten married at all!"

Meanwhile, she says, "My husband keeps the thermostat so low that I'm always shivering. He thinks my romantic comedies are stupid and craves charred turkey legs that disgust me. Is there any hope for our relationship?"

If that sounds like your marriage, maybe you and your spouse need to try harder to "see into" one another.

Author Charles Williams, friend of C. S. Lewis and member of "The Inklings," took this concept a step further. Following up on a cue from the great medieval poet Dante, Williams coined a term of his own – co-inherence – to describe the deep spiritual love that marks the relationship between Christ and His church and (hopefully) a man and his wife. As he saw it, true intimacy is not so much a matter of seeing into one's mate as it is of being in one's mate. It's a question of two becoming one flesh – of identifying so closely with another person that the two of you start finishing each other's sentences and looking at the world from one another's point of view.

One of the "Twelve Traits of a Thriving Marriage" developed by Focus on the Family's Marriage Team is "Shared Responsibility." Sharing the responsibility of running a household, doing chores, raising children, and providing for a family is one of the most down-to-earth aspects of married life. But the point we want to make here is that this very practical side of the marital arrangement has deep roots in something that can only be characterized as a profoundly spiritual, even mystical, experience – the experience of two becoming one.

Can you catch the vision? When it's "I in you and you in me," nobody has to ask any questions. There's no need to jockey for position or fight for a fair division of labor. The further a man and a woman move into the core of that mysterious phenomenon Charles Williams called co-inherence, the less they have to hassle over who cooks dinner and who takes out the trash. And it's at that point that the marriage really begins to work. Still wanting to dive deeper into living selflessly to achieve oneness in your marriage? We know with Christ's help, you can!

It's all a matter of getting your priorities straight.

Date Night

Remember, always act like you're trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage we forget that we need to pursue and "woo" our spouse. So dress up a bit. Be polite and open doors. Compliment one another. Be affectionate – hold hands, cuddle, and steal kisses. Remember to protect your date night from conflict by cutting off any arguments and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time.

Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.

Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, pick somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine.

Step 2: I in You and You in Me.

Pick two different activities for your night out together. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you follow these two simple rules: 1) You have to be able to do both activities in a single evening; and 2) One choice has to be something that he loves and she hates, while the other has to be something that she adores and he finds boring. Outings based around shared interests aren't allowed. Possible examples might include:

Spend the first half of the evening shopping at the mall and the second at a shooting range.

Spend the first half of the evening watching a romantic comedy and the second kicking tires at a car dealership.

Spend the first half of the evening buying plants and flowers at the local nursery and the second watching an "action flick."

Spend the first half of the evening at the batting cages and the second at a shoe store.

Step 3: Relax and unwind. Ready for a few questions?

This segment of the evening is especially important for this particular Date Night. It's the place where the point of everything else you've been doing gets brought out into the open. After your activity, find a quiet place for dessert or coffee where you can relax and emotionally connect through good conversation. Answer the following questions. Be sure to keep your responses positive, uplifting, and encouraging.

What was your favorite part of the evening?

What do you think it means for husband and wife to become "one"? How can you move in that direction without denying your differences and giving up your unique personalities?

Why do you think the two of you were originally attracted to one another when you clearly have such different tastes and interests? Ask your spouse, "Did tonight's activities give you any insight into my reasons for enjoying the things I do? If so, how?" Then give him or her a chance to ask you the same thing.

What is one thing you learned tonight that you didn't know about each other before? How has this Date Night deepened your understanding of your spouse and the way your relationship works? Did it enable you to "get inside" each other – even in some small way?

Now talk about your spousal "roles" and responsibilities. Do you feel like these roles play to your individual strengths in marriage? How do you think a deeper sense of oneness might impact the way you think about household chores and your division of labor?

What are some other ways you can "see into" each other and develop greater marital unity in the days and weeks ahead?

Step 4: Home Sweet Home

As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Think about additional ways you can increase your sense of being "two in one." Once you get home, however, it's up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!