By Osharye Hagood
I am one of seven siblings and grew up in densely populated Los Angeles. Even in a family and city so large, it’s easy to feel alone. My late brother Hussin was only 14 months older than me, but he was my hero. No, he was my superhero. We shared an unbreakable bond. Even when we were apart, I felt I was never alone. I mean this both emotionally, but also, in a way, tangibly.
For example, a school bully once targeted me. The bully saw me by myself and assumed I was vulnerable. When he approached, all I did was mention my brother’s name, and it was like I had an army with me. That was enough to deter the bully and keep him away forever.
This story highlights an essential aspect of my relationship with my brother: even when he wasn’t physically present, his influence meant I was never alone. That’s oneness. I experienced this to a certain degree with my brother, and I experience it to a perfect degree—a divine degree—with our Lord Jesus Christ. And I believe this same oneness is what God intended for our marriages.
Is this not what Jesus, the great bridegroom, said about his bride, the church, when he told the disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)?
UNITY AND WHOLENESS
“Never alone” isn’t merely about physical presence, especially when we consider our marital bonds. “Oneness in marriage” isn’t just a social media hashtag or a good name for a marriage seminar. It’s representative of the unity and wholeness that God designed and Jesus modeled in his relationship with the church. This oneness is something we should intentionally imitate in our marriages.
The wife and husband are individual and distinct expressions of the image of God. Marital therapist Dr. David Schnarch emphasized the importance of differentiation in marriage, which means maintaining one’s identity while being close to another.
Similarly, I am not encouraging the loss of identity; rather, I am promoting the merging together of distinct persons into one being, much like the Trinity is one, yet has three distinct personalities. This “merging together” enhances the concept of oneness rather than detracting from it. A marriage in which both partners are confident individuals who support each other leads to a bond where neither feels threatened and neither is ever alone.
So, I want to offer several principles and practices upon which to focus and share in your marriages. I want you and your spouse to share these seven “pillars”: empathy, challenges, legacy, rituals, space, dreams, and unity.
SEVEN PILLARS OF ONENESS
The first pillar of oneness is empathy. Walk in your spouse’s shoes! Empathy is feeling your partner’s emotions, their highs and their lows. So, when your spouse is elated, soar on those highs with them. When they’re down, feel that weight and offer a shoulder to lean on. This emotional sync doesn’t just bring you closer, it also fortifies the bond in ways words cannot convey.
The second pillar of oneness is challenges. I believe challenges are the ties that bind in a healthy marriage. Life throws everything at our unions, from financial strains to health issues to external pressures. Instead of allowing these challenges to cause rifts, couples should see them as opportunities to strengthen their bond. Navigate the challenges together, find solutions together, and emerge victorious together. This instills confidence in the durability of our relationship.
The third pillar is legacy. Let’s craft our stories together. Oneness is not just emotional, it also is tangible. Let’s build together. In your situation, that oneness may be a family, a business, or a shared passion. Maybe it’s a legacy of memories. If that’s you, build shared tales of adventure. This collective narrative, which couples write every day, becomes a testament to their united front.
The fourth pillar is rituals. The creation and maintenance of shared rituals can function as anchors in our marital journeys. They tether us to our unions beyond just an emotional connection. It could be a morning jog together, a weekly date night, or an annual vacation. These rituals carve out dedicated moments for reconnection, rekindling, and reaffirmation of our bond.
The fifth pillar is space. I believe there is sanctity in shared space. Whether it’s a home, a corner of a room, or even a mutual spot in the park, shared spaces are sanctuaries for our memories, conversations, and shared experiences. These spaces, brimming with tales of shared life, stand as physical embodiments of our marital oneness.
The sixth pillar is dreams. Shared dreams have the power to inspire and push boundaries. Maybe it’s dreaming of traveling the world together, building a dream home, or simply visualizing growing old together. These shared aspirations act as a compass for our journey, continually reminding us of the paths we’ve chosen to walk hand in hand.
The seventh and final pillar is unity. Marital oneness requires intentionality. An unattended garden is overtaken by weeds and pests. Yet, with care and nurturing, that same garden will blossom once more, bearing fruit and vegetation for everyone to see. In our marriages, nurturing takes various forms: a surprise date night, a loving gesture, or just making breakfast. Maybe it’s agreeing to disagree in private or supporting one another’s distinctiveness. These actions constantly reiterate, “I’m here for you,” and softly whisper, “unity.”
In a similar way to how my brother’s unspoken protection empowered me to walk confidently, the sense of oneness in our marriages should empower both partners. It’s about ensuring your spouse feels they’re never alone, no matter the circumstances. Whether a husband or wife is facing health concerns, emotional turmoil, or external pressures, the unwavering support of a partner amplifies the strength to face them together.
Marital oneness isn’t always about grand gestures or pronounced declarations of love. Oneness often is in the nuance of everyday choices and shared moments. It is a dance of two souls, two distinct beings in rhythm, two artists crafting a symphony of shared existence, echoing the profound sentiment that “together, we are never alone.”