Once a woman called and asked if there was something she could do to help her husband stop being so dependent upon her. She said that they have a great marriage, love each other, rarely argue, but he wants to be with her all of the time. She continued by saying that she feels a little suffocated and frustrated that he doesn’t seem to be able to have any individual identity apart from her.
The imbalance of being disconnected or overly-connected with our family surrounds the basic needs of the human heart. Each of us has a need to be separate (identity, contribution), and a need to be close (to be accepted, love and be loved).
To be separate in a positive sense is to define self. But self-revelation depends upon one’s knowledge of God. We understand ourselves and our responsibilities as a parent and spouse in terms of our understanding of God and His relationship to His Son.
An inability to define oneself pushes one to become dictatorial, detached, enmeshed or indulgent; one’s family then becomes the measurement of their self-worth and identity.
To be close in a positive sense is to understand that we have been commissioned by God to provide a service to those he has entrusted in our care.
In the book How Your Church Family Works, Peter Steinke writes: “Separateness and Closeness also produce anxiety. The more intense our anxiety becomes, the more extreme our positions will be. Either we become too remote or too entangled. If we are too anxious about being close, we disengage. We exaggerate separateness. We say things like: ‘I can only count on myself.’ ‘I’m 100% right.’ In the same manner, if we are overanxious about being separate, we enmesh. We are stuck together in an exaggerated way. ‘I can’t live without you.’ ‘I’ll give you what you want for my own peace of mind, at the expense of my own soul.’”
The Scriptures teach that we are to be eager to maintain unity (closeness) in the bond of peace. But in order for unity to be governed by peace, each of us must first speak the truth in love and grow, using our unique God-given gifts (separateness) in order to build one another up in love.
Lamplighter Theatre’s newest audio drama, The White Gypsy, exposes problematic family relationships through an intriguing and captivating story.