Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. Paul wrote in Hebrews: John Chrysostom typified the Orthodox Church Fathers: In a blessed marriage in the Orthodox Church, the couple is ordained as the leaders of their domestic church, crowned to be the king and queen of their domicile and granted grace for the "fair education of children" as the Orthodox wedding service proclaims.
In Christian marriage, authentic and true love seeks to replicate the type of self-sacrifice Christ revealed to us when He became man and dwelt among us and which is still expressed today in Christ's faithfulness to His Church. Self-sacrificial love conforms to the Great Commandment to love our neighbor more highly than ourselves. In so doing we also love and honor God Matthew This kind of love between husband and wife, even if imperfectly practiced and not always realized, constitutes what St.
John Chrysostom called the "small church" and as such ensures the health and stability of the family in raising children Homily XX on Ephesians 5: In the marital relationship two individuals become "one flesh;" a term that means that two individuals work in concert to become one in mind and heart. They are joined together in love in a way that replicates the Three Persons of the Trinity relation of love to each other.
Becoming "one flesh" in a blessed marriage is an act of agape, a selfless giving of one to the other; a self-emptying Greek: This theme is affirmed in the Orthodox marriage service as well.
The "crowning" of the couple actually references martyrdom, that is, giving one's life for the other. As a martyr gives his life for Christ, so must the spouse be willing to give his life to his wife and the wife to her husband , and in so doing fulfill the law of Christ which is to love the neighbor as yourself.
It is a call to love that rings through the intoxication of pleasant emotion into the deeper reservoirs of the heart and soul from where sacrificial love is drawn. Marital self-emptying however, occurs only if each partner consents to it. In making man in His image, God gave man freedom. This leads those in a marital union to a crossroad: The path of righteousness where marriage is a joined duality, or the path of self-satisfaction where marriage is defined as a singularity.
Self-centered marriage is a marriage in name only. After the Fall we are predisposed to self-centered choices directed by the passions lusts rather than choices based on agape. Isaac of Syria tells us: The passions spring from the heart of the person.
All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man" Mark 7: Paul wrote "While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death" Romans 5: The work of the passions can take place either before marriage or after the marital union takes place. In either case they lead to a choice of singularity or self-satisfaction over a righteous, joined union. Before marriage one may not understand or be committed to the Christian view of marriage Morelli, After marriage, due to the brokenness of human nature, the passions may predispose a couple to discord.
Paul's warning applies to the "demon's" attack on the marital union: I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" Galatians 5: The Church Fathers attribute this to the demon of each passion that never tires of breaking union with God.
For example, demon of lust the Church Fathers told us, can take over our lives. Modern society facilitates this malady. Sex is broadcast everywhere for almost every use: The Church Fathers knew about such enticements a thousand years ago. Isaac of Syria wrote: For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ our Lord" Romans 8: Vigilance and discernment are major virtues to be acquired by those seeking Christ indwelling in them and desiring to overcome the power of passions.
Ilias the Presbyter tells us: Ideally the marital couple will make a "spiritual desert" for themselves, removing them from the "enticements" so prevalent in modern life. Spiritual death occurs when these thoughts are self-centered. Maximus the Confessor knew this as well: How much more should St. Maximus' words apply to those who have become "one flesh"?
Psychology and sociology aids us in understanding the social, cognitive, and behavioral factors that contribute to the spiritual breakdown the demon's work that creates marital brokenness. Cognitive-behavioral research Beck and its related marital investigation programs Christianson and Jacobson, and Gottman, , have done much to help delineate the cognitive factors that lead to marital discord and to develop efficacious clinical interventions.
Beck, for example, points out the cognitive distortions that produce marital conflict. Individuals do not know the "state of mind, attitudes, thoughts and feelings" of the other so they impose their own interpretation.
There is a tendency to rely on ambiguous signals from the other and interpret them based on the observers' own attitudes, thoughts, and feelings. The intensity of the observer's beliefs about the motives of the other is not a measure of the accuracy of the observer's interpretation, however. One major contributor to maintaining these inaccurate perceptions is what Beck labels a "closed perspective.
Treatment procedures include training the spouses in recognizing that the source of many misunderstandings is differences in perception. Traits that each spouse has are not "bad" in and of themselves, but a "mismatch with their own traits. They have to view the other "more benignly and realistically. Gottman has extended this to include what he calls the "Four Horseman of the Apocalypse [that] clip-clop into the heart of marriage: The spiritual heritage of the Church may use different terminology, but the meaning is the same.
In Gottman's research, for example, a complaint focuses on a specific behavior, while criticism focuses on general character assassination. This is in accord with the Church Fathers. Peter of Damaskos taught: The prophet Job, spoke of "a heart hard as stone" Job The prophet Ezekiel said: Pastorally and clinically I have found four factors are especially insidious in undermining marital relationships: Mind-reading is the unrealistic cognition that one's partner should be able to know what the one is thinking, feeling or desiring.
All individuals perceive the world differently; it is the individual's responsibility to communicate to their spouse what their wants and needs are. Reciprocity is the unrealistic expectation that if one does something for someone they have the right to expect a return even though the other may not be privy to this "unilateral contract. Entitlement occurs when the spouse feels they deserve love, companionship, happiness, honesty, obedience, etc. Entitlement works hand in hand with expectations.
When an event occurs in which one family member does not feel that others lived up to what was expected of them, feelings of anger and being used result.
Constant urging is the unrealistic expectation that if one urges nags one's partner enough, he will comply with what is wanted. Often the opposite is produced, people stonewall when feeling coerced. It is better to get individuals to voluntarily comply with requests on their own. These psychological interventions can be enlivened by the Holy Spirit: And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another" Galatians 5: It takes two persons to keep the marriage together but it takes one to break it. Because marriage is a conjoint relationship. I was recently asked: But more is to come: Christ can transform all even what appears "bad" and is "bad" into good. How is this possible? The more we exert ourselves for the sake of His love, the more God grows near to us through His gifts and longs to fill [us] with peace.
If we respond by fighting the good fight as St. Paul said, and exert ourselves as St. Peter of Damaskos said, then we are growing near to God. From the brokenness in marriage a "new creation" can emerge.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself" 2 Corinthians 5: The growth is accomplished through prayer, participation in the holy mysteries, especially Confession and the reception of the Holy Eucharist.
The greatest good after any brokenness is the capacity to be able to "love more. For Christians the "theology of sex" based on Divine Love is at the highest principle, infinitely beyond empathy or any other set of ethical standards.
It references the essence of God Himself. St John tells us " God is love" 1 John 4: This is the love we are to have for one another. Archimandrite Sophrony reports that St. Silouan the Athonite, echoing the Church Fathers, said: The Persons of the Holy Trinity interrelate amongst themselves in Love.