Saturday, May 24, 2008

Getting back to the rib

Sometimes when I am sleeping at night, I will put my head on my husband's chest and lie in the "nook," with his arm around me. I can't sleep this way all night, as it usually results in a sore neck, but it is a very comforting position. Generally speaking, cuddling seems to bring a great deal of comfort. My husband even told me once about an article he read that said holding your wife's hand decreases her blood pressure.

Could it be that physical connection and emotional connection rely heavily upon one another? Probably.

The book of Genesis tells us, "So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man." (Genesis 2:20-22)

I am not certain if this is a literal or metaphorical explanation of how men and women were created for one another; I just know that I like it. The romantic in me loves the response Adam has to meeting this new creation -- taken from him, for him:

"The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Genesis 2:23-25)

There is something inherent to my nature, my creation, that has me trying to get back to the rib on a regular basis. To be back in that place from which I came. To achieve a connection with my husband that comes from our original status of "one flesh."

I wonder how many people misunderstand the concept of one flesh? I confess I go round and round with it myself. I know I am a completely separate entity from my husband, yet certainly, we are connected.

Many people want to view the reference to the man and woman becoming "one flesh" as merely a metaphor for sex, but I think that is selling it short. Certainly, that's a piece of it, but there's much more to it than that. If one flesh is only about sex, then I will find myself emotionally ignored far too often.

Others embrace one flesh as one person being absorbed into the other, sort of a reversal of the creation of Eve. That is perhaps the most smothering translation of one flesh; one that only the most needy or controlling could desire and the most well-defined could endure, although not without great difficulty, I imagine.

Perhaps the translation of one flesh that I tend to embrace reminds me of what Ruth said to her mother-in-law, Naomi, when expressing her intention to stay with her. Ruth 1:16 records her as saying, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God."

This interpretation of one flesh (although it is being expressed between in laws) suggests a commitment and a connectedness. That is what I like about it; commitment and connectedness without suffocation or absorption.

So back to my thoughts about getting back to the rib...

I remember hearing a "cheesy" explanation of why Eve was created from Adam's rib that goes something like this: Eve was taken from Adam's rib -- at his side, to be his equal; under his arm, to be protected; near his heart, to be loved.

I wonder how many women out there are woman enough to admit this is a pretty good explanation.

Oh yes, we want to proclaim our equality to man. Foregone conclusion, enough said. But what about the other two parts? What about the concept of being protected and loved? I think those two statements really hit home with the needs of most women.

Number one, we want our men to take care of us. Yes, really, we do. Just don't treat us like delicate china. Know your woman well enough that you can tell when she needs caring for and when she needs her space. If women weren't created with this need to be cared for by a man, then why were men created with a natural instinct and desire to provide? (They are the hunters, after all...)

Number two, we want our men to fight for us. I'm not talking about dueling; defending my honor, etc. I'm talking more about being pursued. (But not stalked, please!) If he wants me enough to pursue me, that equals, "I love you." Men will typically pursue what they really want. Applying my dime store psychology, I maintain that a man and woman who end up together without that initial experience of "pursual" having taken place are going to be less happy than their "pursued and caught" counterparts. The woman will always wonder, "Did he really, really want to be with me?" The man will counter, "Was I trapped?"

Certainly, there are exceptions to every rule. So to avoid offending the "exceptions" out there, I will make a blanket statement and claim the following applies "only" to me; the rest of you can decide for yourselves.

I have to get back to the rib on a regular basis.

I have to stay connected in a physical and emotional way to my husband.

I want him to protect me and pursue me, even still.

But I don't want to be smothered, ignored, stalked, or absorbed. (Hey, there's a rhyme in there).

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