From “Me” to “Us” – Creating an Authentic Marriage in a Culture of Want

Authenticity. More than a current buzz word. The lynch pin necessary to create and sustain deep, connection between two married lovers. The only way to truly know someone’s heart, intentions and what they bring to the interpersonal table. Real stuff you can trust because your lover makes himself or herself known. Yes, known.

Authenticity means living out in the open. Like standing in a vast field with no trees to seclude secret thoughts and fears. Seen. Known. Requires bold choice. To put your heart and soul out there to someone you care about, your lover and marriage partner. Not easy. Not at all. Risen from a life-giving philosophy that creates lightening-like energy between lovers from the electricity grid of genuine, “here’s my heart” connection.

Being authentic opens the door for mature, undaunted love. An authentic heart – and only an authentic heart – has taken time to know what it means to be human. To live with feelings, emotions, hurts and joy. Living a transparent life opens a door of awareness of what makes others unique. You see in your lover a wildly, one-of-a-kind man or woman. You feel compelled to know them – for who they are. Not what you can get from them. Not from what you deserve.

Much can get in the way. Of being real and open with your thoughts, feelings and emotions. For some, personal hurts from childhood block out the sunlight of an enduring, genuine connection with your mate, like an eclipse that darkens a once translucent sky. Problems with drugs and alcohol, depression, anxiety, all suffocate desire, and take the oxygen out of your capacity to love and truly know yourself as a friend and companion.

Perhaps the greatest enemy preventing us from living an irradiant, this-is-me life comes from a philosophy that buries truth and openness beneath an opaque, avalanche of self-centeredness. A perspective on life and love that says, “I deserve” this. “I’ve earned it.” Closes out light in favor of crouching behind shadows that reveal no more than what we feel is safe. Acceptable. Makes us look good.

In fact, this culture saturates our lives with one singular message – “you deserve” this or that. Really, you deserve it all. We all hear it – all the time. Seems that everything good in life, we’ve somehow magically earned, deserve to get just because we are alive! What a philosophy of life. Somehow, life owes us good things.

Quite different from a personal life based on humility. A perspective that considers all the benefits in life as blessings. Undeserved, unearned but given by God out of grace. One system of thinking crowns each person as the center of natural blessings, the other as recipients of God’s touch, care and heart – recipients of His divine blessings. His amazing grace! Quite different indeed.

Self or other. The juxtaposition of two differing ways of thinking. Two life-changing philosophies that determine the quality of your life and whether God takes center stage or a back row purchased with low cost tickets that ignore the price of His death on the cross. When God takes center stage, you still deserve it all – because He has paid the ultimate price and sees you through the eyes of His Son. When He sits in the back row, you deserve it all because you’re you. No other reason than life owes you something more than has been given so far. Time for you to cash in. Get what’s coming.

In Jesus’ great discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, He discusses giving, prayer and fasting motivated by two distinct energies (Matthew 6:1-24). One centers on impressing others. A kind of false self that hides behind gimmicks, facades and a belief that if I’m real, you won’t accept or love me.

The other, an authentic response to God, His Person and the identity He has given us in Christ. Speaks of a holy calling that dispenses with the need for a fabricated self, manufactured out of a belief that approval from the world matters most. Says, “Be centered in your true self, the way God sees you and knows you.” “You are His creation and that is enough.” Enough!

Jesus makes it clear that living an authentic life ushers in blessings untold. God rewards the transparent, real person. We manufacture nothing. He delivers it all. Forgiveness, the blessedness of serving one Master. That alone means we don’t live two lives out of two philosophies. Rather, we have one focus. Living out a real, genuine life creates unbelievable direction, focus and passion. Doesn’t get eclipsed by selfishness, desires that derail us and paths that lead nowhere.

Ultimately, authenticity provides your soul-mate with a look into the window of your heart. A place God inhabits. The way God sees and knows you. The true you. When you love out of transparency, you love fully. Your self no longer stands on the street corner of self-affirmation, looking for rewards from others, from your life partner. It gives from rippling streams that offer tributaries of real love, real devotion and compassion for the lover God has given you for life.

Authenticity. The greatest gift God gives each of us. Set free from false distractions of what we think we need. We now can give it all. To others. To ourselves. To the lover God has given us for life – our soul mate, our best friend, our husband, our wife.

You have no greater gift to give your life partner than your true heart. A spirit shaped by the hand of your Maker. Transparency pulsating with the invisible blood of care and compassion that flows from a confident, forgiven self. Surging with the power through deep veins that pour into the unique soul of your mate. Authenticity – believable, “this is me” honesty that says, “I love you.” “Because you’re you.”

Ponder for a moment your personal strengths, your capacity to love, and the virtues you live by. Authenticity and transparency form the cornerstones of a vivid, life-changing love relationship. You create spirit-moving potential, the kind that blows away the expectations of your lover when you live out an honest, genuine life. Your capacity to love has to flow through the dam of self-interest, carelessness and sin to make a difference. Comes down to truth. The truth that drives you, pumps excitement through your emotional veins and grows love.

Only the “truth” sets us free (John 8:32). Only the truth. Authenticity at its best. A no-lies way of living and being. Most of us hope to cultivate a life based on truth, honesty and transparency. Whether searching for a place to worship, a new friend or a marriage that rocks the soul, we want the real thing. Not fabrications of someone’s personal philosophy or even Biblical interpretation. But life-changing, radical relationships that cut through the fog bank of insignificance and come out the other side consumed with what truly matters in life. Not the artificial, but the real.

The real truth, the real heart from our lover. Not the disguised, the “almost get what you mean,” but a life emerging from the dark, exposed by the brilliant sunlight of honesty and transparency that leaves us wanting more. For the sake of the very health of our hearts and souls.

You see, authenticity makes a difference. Confronts discouragement, overpowers indifference and creates everything real – filling up lakes with a cleansing water that flows out of a vast well of brilliance when uncluttered by the commotion of an obsession with hiding what comes from within. Springs from the heart, the soul and the deep well of wisdom that God gives us to reach into.

With authenticity, the heart opens for others to see. Cuts through your smiles and mannerisms and gets straight to your spirit. Simplifies life and love. Overrides anger, provides a bridge for healing from hurts and conflict. Endorses freedom and openness, limiting the prisons we live in when we surround ourselves with invisible bars that keep others out, often those we love most.

So what happens when you export your philosophy of life into the land of relationships? Of marriage, of two lovers who have committed their lives to one another? The philosophy of “I deserve it because I’m me” waits with monumental expectations for initiative from your lover. Give me love, care and respect.” Why? “Because I should have it. I deserve it.”

The philosophy of authenticity, of truth, says, “Love me because you choose to. For you have something that means the world to me – a brazen love from your own will, choice and your capacity to love wholly.” For whole love, unconditional, grows in the rich soil of transparency, from one who knows himself or herself well. Truly the great gift from God Himself, carved out of grace and handed over from His mercy. The God who knows us completely. And has set us free to be present and alive to Him – and to one another.

Picture of Doug

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About Doug and Leslie Gustafson, MFT's

As writers, speakers, therapists and coaches, our mission centers on working with men, women and couples who want a more fulfilling life by living out their true vision and passion. We have written the book Amazing Intimacy - Create A Spectacular Marriage In and Out of the Bedroom as a how to guide for love, sex and passion. Ultimately, we all have an incredible potential we have only partially discovered and fulfilled. This brief journey in life gives us the opportunity to realize and pursue this exciting potential.
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