Marriage, Part Three

This week on The Allender Center Podcast, Dan and Becky Allender continue our series on Marriage: Leaving, Cleaving, and Weaving. In Part One and Part Two of this series, Dan and Becky reflected on the difficulties they encountered in leaving their families of origin and growing in love and loyalty toward each other. Here, they discuss the idea of cleaving together, being bonded to each other in the sort of one-heartedness that marks a life-giving marriage.

Dan and Becky reflect on the physical characteristics and personality traits that initially attracted them to each other, and on their common history, the stories they share that maintain and strengthen their bond to each other. They reminisce together about one of those stories in particular, and we don’t want to spoil it here—we’ll just say it involves a chance encounter at a party in Florida (where Dan had come for a drug deal) and a late-night car chase.

Dan: “It’s been those stories that have often been the anchor to allow our hearts to hold to the reality that God has brought us together. […] We have stories and sensuality that brought us together and also hold us together when so much else seems to be working to divide, including our own failure.”

Not that growing that deep soul-bondedness has always been easy. For Dan and Becky, as for most of us, their initial style of relating to each other grew out of the brokenness in their families of origin. That often looked like others-centered contempt for Dan and, for Becky, contempt of self.

Becky: “I felt used to being in the presence of strong people who told me what to do. […] It took me a while, probably years, to realize that this was what had been modeled in my own family.”

Dan: “Our own styles of relating out of the brokenness of our own families also contributed to what appeared to be cohesion and connection. […] In fact, if you looked under the surface, there was not the union of heart the way God intended.”

Connecting to each other in a new, deeper kind of way required addressing their failures with kindness, learning to bless themselves and each other in spite of their brokenness. Becky shares how story work in group contexts and learning about attachment styles helped her see how she had forgotten about herself in relation to others, and it allowed her to tend to the wounds of her younger self, which had been ignored for years.

That conversation will be continued next week, when Dan and Becky discuss the role that contempt plays as an impediment to deep connection in marriage.

Dan: “You can’t grow in love and kindness when the presence of contempt—subtle or overt—is leaking out against yourself or against your partner.”