To know someone is a good thing. To really know someone beyond friendship and accumulated knowledge is even better. What about knowing someone in a Godly sense? It’s beyond what you may think. ♦
I had an epiphany of sorts this week regarding my wife, my spouse of 37 years. It was subtle yet profound; small yet significant. It wasn’t something we even talked about, but it did stir a behavioral shift in me.
What was it?
It was simply the beginning of a new level of appreciation for my wife.
And how did this come about?
I merely encountered circumstances that gave me new eyes to see, understand, and accept her differences from me.
And as I saw the differences, I cherished them. Loved them even rather than delineate or hold them up to scrutiny or judgment. I could actually celebrate them.
It seemed to almost remove a barrier or lift a veil. I felt new freedom in the insights and perspective that flooded me.
Very strange, yet very real.
Know Your Spouse, in the Godly Sense
Do you really know your spouse? I’m not talking about “knowing in the Biblical sense.” That, of course, comes from Genesis 4:1: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain.” The translators of the King James version of the Bible translated the Hebrew verb “yt” (transliteration is “yada”) to the term “to know” which many understand to be a euphemism for sexual intercourse.
Brings new light to those Seinfeld episodes’ usage of “Yada, yada, yada…”
But it really goes beyond that.
In the Bible, knowing involves deep relationship and heart-commitments. In Genesis 3:5 Adam and Eve were tempted to “know” good and evil. In Amos 3:2, God is speaking to Israel and says “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.”
These are not sexual references. This is about full knowledge, exposure, comprehension, possession, clear understanding, intimacy, and depth of relationship and fellowship. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology cites that this type of use of the word “know” appears over 900 times in the Hebrew Bible. It has a wider sweep than our English word “know.” To know is not to be intellectually informed about some abstract principle, but to apprehend and experience reality.
So in this light, do you really know your spouse?
What happened this week was fairly straight-forward. In the context of talking to my wife about a spiritual issue and her response, I saw very clearly her real heart differences and feelings. I recognized that I was off-base in trying to force my perspective or view. She had her own response that came from a place deep inside her own thoughts and experiences. I could only marvel at her uniqueness that literally came from God’s creative wiring and the world’s impact on her design.
I saw her in a new light. I felt I knew her in a new way.
Of course I knew her (37 years is a long time), but I actually got a glimpse of her in a way that I can literally say I never saw before. It surprised me at its freshness and wholeness. It was like falling in love again.
What happened? Not completely sure, but I can attest there is a new view I have of her going forward.
3 Keys to Truly Know Your Spouse
As I’ve considered the implications of that experience, here are 3 practical steps to move into a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of your spouse:
- Study Your Spouse – As stated, of course husbands and wives know each other well. But beyond that one should study their spouse; that is, take time and effort in getting underneath the coverings, modes, and appearances we feel we know so well. To study is to not take for granted pre-established knowledge or experiences, but to see the other with fresh, learned eyes targeted toward a goal of revelation and new perspective. Why do they really do what they do or have done?
- Engage Your Spouse – Whether over 1 year or decades, the married life can be full of rich activities and high and low experiences, but devoid of depth of communication and engagement beyond daily motions and obligations. Woe to unions like that. Conscious effort and time set aside to sit and discuss (we like an evening glass of wine) will reap benefits of mutual understanding, closeness, intimacy, insight, appreciation, love and joy.
- Celebrate Your Spouse – No need to wait for that milestone birthday or anniversary date, every day should be a celebration at some level. After all, this is the wife or husband of your youth (perhaps). Treat them like a treasure you’ve discovered and secured and hold them up to the world as worthy of celebration and heraldry. Once you’ve done this you’ll be surprised at the guilt you’ll feel for not doing this significant but easy task sooner and more often.
No Magic, Just Knowledge
So there it is, right before us. A simple, even Biblical formula: know, love, respect, and honor your spouse.
Blessed is the marriage where both spouses proactively know well and understand each other, engage deliberately with depth and sensitivity, and hold each other up in joy and celebration of the unique God-given gifts reflected every day right before our very eyes.
Do you really know your spouse?
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:33