Dr. John VanEpp1 has identified five primary factors that play an important role in bonding and maintaining relationship in marriage. There is an abundance of research that illustrates the importance of each of these factors. The five factors are: to know, trust, depend, commitment, and touch.
Marriage is a model, a picture, of how Christ loves us, the church. In Ephesians 5:25, husbands are exhorted to "love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." It is only logical that the five factors that enhance attachment and bonding in a couple also play an important role in our relationship with God. In the next few blogs I want to process a little through the impact of these factors, how they play a part in marriage, but also how they reflect our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is paralleled in our marital relationship.
God knows us. Psalm 139: 1-4 "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord."
He even knows how many hairs are on our head (Matt. 10:30--information we don’t even know about ourselves). If I am going to "love God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind," (Matthew 22:37) I must continually be growing in my knowledge of him. That means learning how He thinks, what He desires, how He has acted in the past.
It is easy to slide into a relationship with God defined by what He gives us and what we give Him. Often our conversations with Him become one-sided with our doing most of the talking. God tells us "I don’t want your offerings, I want your love. I don’t want your sacrifices. I want you to know me" (Hosea 6:6, LB). God created us from the beginning for a relationship with Him. His knowing us and our knowing Him is an integral part of the love between us.
Our knowing God, and His knowing us parallels our knowing our spouse. One of the primary keys to building intimacy is to know someone. If I do not know my partner, how can I truly love them? How can I demonstrate that kind of unconditional, "always looking out for your best" type of love if I do not know my spouse–who he is, what he likes, what his dreams, fears, and hopes are. I cannot understand my partner if I do not know him, what he has experienced in the past and what he is currently experiencing. Knowing your husband or wife is an on-going goal in the marital relationship because we are ever changing, developing, growing, and taking on new roles. We are never the same person that we were 5 years ago–or even one year ago. Life experience itself brings change and development in each of us.
God often allows us to experience a broad variety of life circumstances, and in the midst of those experiences, we often come to know Him in new ways. This is also true of our marital relationship: with each new life experience, we change, and couples have to continue to grow to know each other.
As our knowledge of God-- who He is, His faithfulness and character-- increases, our faith and trust in Him grows. In the same way, the more a husband and wife know each other, the richer their relationship becomes. A great challenge for all of us is to continue to grow in our knowledge of God, and in our knowledge of our spouse.
1Van Epp, John. How to Avoid Falling in Love with A Jerk