Jeremiah 2:13 "For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and they have hewn for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns which cannot hold water"
No matter your love language, nothing speaks love more deeply than someone who knows your deepest, darkest secrets and yet still believes in you. You, along with every human heart, long to have someone who knows you, flaws and all, and still accepts you and cares for you. We all long for that depth of relationship where we can be completely real and honest, and not feel condemned; where we can be our true selves and still be loved.
That is what most of us think we have found when we say, "I do." Why is it that just a few years into marriage, so many of us no longer feel that kind of love, encouragement and acceptance anymore? Instead, we form patterns of nagging, criticizing, complaining, and disregarding the other's needs. Many people settle for this kind of environment in their marriage for years. Yet, every day that goes by, more hurt builds up and the love and acceptance that we thought we had found seems to tragically slip away along with our hope.
So what do we do? We search for other ways to fill that part of ourselves that is longing for closeness with someone. We try to fill it with things that we think will be fulfilling and often they do make us feel better. Unfortunately, it is only temporary at best, causing us to dive in even deeper trying to find that feeling or to escape from the fact that we cannot find the kind of acceptance we need. This is pseudo-intimacy. It can look as benign as watching T.V., following sporting events, pursuing hobbies, or being over-committed to work or ministry.
Some of our choices have more serious consequences for our families. For instance, many people try to numb their feelings with alcohol, drugs or high-risk activities that give an adrenaline rush. Some fall into behaviors like having an emotional affair, living vicariously through their children, becoming addicted to porn or getting involved in a physical affair.
The worst part of pseudo-intimacy is that all of these things leave us even emptier than we were before – even when we think we have found that fulfillment in another person. Each time that longing comes back, and it always comes back, it comes back with a vengeance. The more successful we are at staving it off, the stronger it is when it comes back. These are our broken cisterns. The ones we have hewn for ourselves instead of putting our trust in God's cistern, the one that has no holes and holds living water, the only one that truly satisfies.
What is your pseudo-intimacy of choice? God has hewn a perfect cistern for you. Do not substitute a lame and faulty alternative for what God has provided for you. Do not settle for second best.
Pursue God's best for you. That dream of being known and loved by someone is not pie in the sky. It is possible. It is not easy but it is worth fighting for. It starts with you. You must choose to let yourself be known. Stop hiding those parts of yourself you are afraid or ashamed of. Choose to be a safe place where your spouse can be real, honest and vulnerable. Be willing to give the acceptance that your spouse needs.
Let your walls down. Slowly if need be, but start the process. And stop the negativity and criticism that is flowing toward your spouse. Start listing the things you are grateful for about your spouse; the things you love about your spouse. Start saying them aloud to your spouse. Give forgiveness freely. Let your home be a safe place to fail. Be the one who is helping people get back up and try again with your support and encouragement. Your cistern may feel empty for a while, but when you keep filling it with living water, true joy and satisfaction will come. Trust God's ways over your own.
If you feel things have gone too far for you to go back, get outside help. Contact a counselor or attend a Marriage Helper 911 workshop and give your relationship a chance to start again – this time the right way.