If marriage is nothing like you thought it would be

Relationship Design


The following is an excerpt from Naked Marriage

I believe a majority of married couples have a false notion of what marriage truly is, and those rose-colored assumptions tend to heighten expectations to such unrealistic levels that these couples often find themselves in predicament’s like Amy and Daniel’s. Because they don’t understand what marriage is and could be, they hide from each other.
To keep the peace, they continue the charades, each spouse reluctantly believing, “I guess this is just how it’s supposed to be.” Consequently, they refuse to get naked with each other in all of that word’s scary yet glorious permutations: emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Naked Marriage encourages you to find yourself and fully reveal yourself, so your marriage can become fully alive.
Many married people enter into marriage thinking they know what they’re signing on for only to discover what they thought are really myths, like “my spouse completes me” or “all fights in marriage are bad.” Each of the following chapters considers one major myth and the practical steps you can take to release that myth’s stranglehold on your marriage.
Every marriage is unique: you may not struggle with certain myths, but I’m willing to bet at least a few of these falsehoods have attached themselves to your marriage.
The unfortunate truth is that all marriages have problems. Size and frequency may vary, but every marriage encounters problems because every marriage involves two very human people. In fact, I believe all marriages are meant to have problems so we might better see ourselves and be matured. From my perspective, marriage is more about two people becoming better humans than it is about two people becoming happy. To that end, let’s consider how rediscovering your individuality will help you grow closer to your spouse.
In other words, let’s start stripping away the myths we wear like fig leaves to hide who we truly are.
Created to Be Naked
Marriage reveals what you wrestle so hard to keep hidden. But what if marriage is supposed to do exactly that? What if marriage is supposed to expose you for who you really are? What if you strip off the myths of marriage so you can clearly see yourself and allow your spouse to really see you too? Isn’t that rather enticing—to be truly, deeply, and fully known and loved for you?
What if, instead of protecting yourself from your spouse, you leaned into the nakedness of marriage? What if the way we all once were—naked and unashamed—is the way we’re supposed to be?
At the dawn of history, the author of the biblical book of Genesis wrote, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Gen. 2:25). Imagine what it would be like to be naked with your spouse, fully exposed and vulnerable, and to feel no shame.
After creating Adam and Eve, God said His creation was “very good,” which should lead us to assume that being naked and feeling no shame is a very good thing. Practically speaking, I agree. Not having to worry about what I’m going to wear every day would be great. Emotionally speaking, feeling no shame and being content with who I am would definitely be very good.
When you were born you were perfectly OK with who you were. You experienced no shame because you didn’t know what shame was. You also didn’t know you were naked.
So why do we wear clothes? Why do we hide who we truly are from the one person we believe who truly wants to know us?
Because we learned the meaning of shame.
Do you know the first thing that happened after Adam and Eve defied God by choosing to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
[Adam] answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:7–13, emphasis added).
Men, here’s some free advice: never answer any accusation, whether from God or man, with, “The woman you put here with me…” It’s not a good idea. That said, there’s a more important point to be drawn from this tragicomic exchange between God and his creation.
Why would Adam and Eve’s illicitly-gained, newfound knowledge suddenly lead to a desire to wear clothing? Because the knowledge they’d acquired signified a deep internal change.
For all its fun in appropriate settings, nudity makes us uncomfortable in almost every area of our lives. Aside from dogs forced to wear ridiculous sweaters, we’re the only species that wears clothes. In fact, no culture on the planet walks around completely naked. Even those who wear less clothing than what’s acceptable in our culture, like certain tribes deep in the jungles, feel shame when the one string around their waist comes off in public.
We all feel shame when our outer layers reveal what we strive to keep private.
That’s as true for our souls as it is for our bodies.
Drop your fig leaves and strip the myths away
Whether you realize it or not, you and your spouse are the modern-day equivalents of Adam and Eve. Ashamed of revealing who you truly are, you’ve woven and worn emotional fig leaves throughout your life in order to hide your shame. In the following chapters, we’ll discuss these fig leaves and the shapes they take in your marriage. More importantly, we’ll discuss what you can do to strip away these myths that have developed so you can be naked and unashamed within your marriage.
As humans, we’re often very adept at hiding who we really are, especially from those closest to us, despite the fact that we desperately want those people to know us and to know us deeply. Why do we suffer from such a subtle, internal tug-of-war when we were created to be emotionally naked in our marriages?
Because of our fear of being naked, we struggle against ourselves, our spouses, and the world at large to get back to being naked, to return to a state where we’re content with who we are. I believe that marriage was designed to help grow you into who you’re meant to be. It’s the only kind of relationship where two different people can learn how to become comfortable being naked with each other. In other words, marriage is the best place to be truly seen and known, which makes marriage simultaneously awesome and terrifying.
In this life, you will never be able to experience physical or emotional nakedness without shame the way Adam and Eve did, but I promise, you can overcome shame a little at a time and grow more comfortable with your own nakedness. Relationships where both spouses can be emotionally naked with each other result in closeness, trust, security, and love, and those are strong, deep, foundational feelings we all secretly want to experience deep within our souls.
That’s what marriage is supposed to be like, but it takes hard self-focused work to get there. Remember: as you grow, so grows the marriage.
So let’s get growing.
Pick up your copy of Naked Marriage: Uncovering Who You Are and Who You Can Become Together