There is a lot on the web about compartmentalization – the ability to separate into isolated compartments or categories (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Some mental health professionals believe compartmentalization is a healthy and productive coping strategy that allows people to separate their emotions and isolate their activities so they can better perform tasks and enjoy relationships. The most common example given by psychologists for “good” compartmentalization is when a man or woman intentionally separates their career life from their family life so they can fully give themselves to each environment at the appropriate time. Another common example given of “good” compartmentalization is when a person separates their emotions so they can complete a difficult task like getting through a eulogy at a loved one’s funeral or setting aside anger during a heated argument.
But, some psychologists say compartmentalization can be misused. People can use the coping strategy to create false identities so they can live in fantasy worlds. We have all read about…
- Men who are ruthless gangsters in the daytime then good husbands and fathers in the evening.
- Priests and pastors who preach about love and holiness on Sundays then sexually abuse their congregants during the week.
- Women who are loving wives and mommies throughout the week then sneak out on the weekends to work as prostitutes.
- “Happily” married men and women who are addicted to porn and/or having sexual affairs with their coworkers.
I could give more examples of misusing compartmentalization, but you get the idea. People can use compartmentalization to become completely different people who have completely different values.
As a pastor/marriage counselor, I have counseled many men and women who have used compartmentalization to justify their wrong thinking and sinful behavior. One husband told me during a counseling session that he has to compartmentalize to keep his sanity. He actually believed compartmentalization was the best way for him to live and have a good marriage.
One of my jobs as a marriage counselor is to show men and women that marriage is not a relationship that can be divided up, for marriage is a relationship that is founded on oneness. In Genesis 2:21-24, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep so He could take one of his ribs and make Eve. Then, after God created Eve from a bone that protected Adam’s heart, the Lord pronounced, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one flesh.” What did God mean by “two are united into one flesh?” Well, I believe “one flesh” means more than sexual intercourse. I also believe “one flesh” means more than two single people merging their lives into one family unit. I believe “one flesh” means God wants a married couple to completely intertwine their lives together so He can use them to accomplish His purposes.
Now, don’t read me wrong here. I am not saying a single person cannot accomplish great things with their life. I am simply stating that God created marriage to unite two single people into one family so they can accomplish more together with their lives. In marriage, two people help each other grow mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. In marriage, two people help each other raise healthy, productive children. In marriage, two people help each other spend, save and invest their money. In marriage, two people help each other minister to their community. Yes, single people can do great things, but married people can do more great things! God instituted marriage so a man and woman can work together to accomplish more with their lives.
I know marriage scares a lot of singles because they do not want to lose their individuality for a relationship. But, oneness in marriage doesn’t mean you lose your identity, your rights, or your unique perspective on life. Oneness in marriage means you and your mate have like-minded values and goals, and because you have like-minded values and goals, you move together through life – making the most of it.
Okay Pastor John, if marriage is so great, why are there so many unhappy married people?
• A lot of singles enter marriage without a desire, or the “know-how” to become one with their mate.
Listen, you cannot be married and live as a single person. Marriage involves sacrifice and submission. You have to go into the marriage relationship willing to surrender your singleness so you can obtain something better – oneness. If two singles get married and try to remain two singles, they will eventually become two singles again! A twoness marriage (two people going in opposite ways) always ends in divorce.
So, what is the secret for developing oneness in marriage?
• You and your spouse must allow Christ to daily oversee your lives.
“…submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 NLT
The Apostle Paul commands husbands and wives to submit to Christ’s will for their lives, because only then will they show each other the proper love and respect they both crave (See: Ephesians 5:22-32). When a married couple allows Jesus to guide their individual lives, they will quit fighting over who is right and wrong, quit arguing over how to spend money, and quit disputing over how to raise their kids. When a married couple learns to practice the habit of submission, they will get so close to each other they have similar ideas, attitudes, and behaviors. And, they will accomplish more together with their lives!
Marriage is a partnership. It requires two people to talk, walk, and work together as one. Marriage is a life-long three-legged race, and if you want to win the race, you’re going to have to help each other along the way. You cannot compartmentalize in marriage. You cannot separate or isolate parts of your life from your mate. You must work together at becoming one in everything.
If you’re considering marriage, or you want to know how to greatly improve your marriage, I encourage you to purchase my book: The 10 Habits of Magnificent Marriages. It is available through Amazon.