Part IThe Goal of MarriageONENESS: What It Is and Why It Is ImportantSeveral months ago I was working on a rough draft of this book during a flight to New York City. A flight attendant noticed the words "The Goal of Marriage" written at the top of a yellow pad of paper resting on the tray table in front of me. She asked what I was writing. When I told her I was starting a book on marriage, she said, "Well, I''m glad, because I really believe in marriage. After six years of living with a man, I decided that I wanted to be married. Since the fellow I was living with liked our no-strings-attached arrangement, I found somebody else who was willing to tie the knot, and we got married two months ago. So far it''s great!"I asked her why she preferred a marriage commitment to merely living together. She thought for a few seconds, then said, "I think it''s the commitment part I wanted. I married a man who seems to be really committed to loving me and working on a relationship. I never felt secure enough to really open up and try to get close with a man who wouldn''t make any promises."This incident prompts two questions: (1) What was this woman''s purpose in exchanging her live-in boyfriend for a husband? (2) How was she hoping to reach her objective?Consider a second example.A husband in his early thirties complained to me that his wife was a disappointment to him. She was pretty and personable, a good cook, and a devoted mother to their two children. But these qualities were offset by her constant criticizing, her impatient corrections and rebukes, and her negative attitude. Nothing he did seemed to satisfy her and, he added with a touch of noble frustration, he was the sort of husband many women would be delighted to have.This man''s wife had been staring dejectedly at the floor the whole time he was speaking. When he stopped talking, she spoke without raising her head. "What he says is true. I''m an awful nag, and I do complain a lot. I just feel so unloved by Jimmy."When she raised her head, there was anger in her eyes."Sometimes he explodes at me, calling me awful names. He''ll never pray with me. Sure, he smiles a lot, and he thinks that makes him a great husband, but I know he doesn''t really accept me. His smiles always turn into pushy demands for sex; and when I won''t give in to him, he throws a fit."Reflect on this couple and ask the same two questions: (1) What was each partner longing for from the other? (2) What were their strategies for gaining their desires?Think about one more illustration.A middle-aged couple-Christians, attractive, talented, financially comfortable, faithful, active church members-admitted that their marriage was in trouble."I feel like such a hypocrite," the wife stated. "If you asked the people in our church to list the ten most happily married couples they know, our names would probably appear on every list. We''re sociable, we entertain church people frequently in our beautiful home, we sing in the choir together. We really play the role-but our relationship is miserable."We get along-but from a distance. I can never tell him how I really feel about anything. He always gets mad and jumps at me, or he clams up for a couple days. I don''t think we''ve ever had a really close relationship."Her husband responded, "I don''t think it''s all that bad. We''ve got a lot going for us: the kids are doing fine, my wife teaches Sunday school, the Lord is blessing my business. That''s better than a lot of-"I interrupted. "How much do you really share yourself-your feelings, hopes, and dreams-with your wife?""Well," he answered, "whenever I try she usually doesn''t seem all that interested, so I just don''t bother.""I''d listen if you''d really share with me!" his wife blurted. "But your idea of sharing is to lecture me on how things should be. Whenever I try to tell you how I feel, you always say something like "I don''t know why you feel like that.'' I think our communication is awful."Once more, consider the same two questions: (Crabb, Larry is the author of 'Marriage Builder A Blueprint for Couples and Counselors Now With Discussion Guide for Couples' with ISBN 9780310548010 and ISBN 0310548012.