I continue to be stunned by the level of deadness that most people consider normal and seem to be content to live with. It had been more than a year since Diane and Ted first came to see me for counseling. As with most marriages, the real issues lay buried under years of just getting by, hidden beneath the way we’ve learned to live with each other so as not to rock the boat. Sadly, this way involves killing large regions of our hearts. And so their struggle toward intimacy required a lot of pain and hard work. But they stuck with it until they began to taste the true life of a real marriage. At this point Diane asked Ted about his deepest desires: “If I could be more of what you wanted in a woman, what do you secretly wish I would offer you?” It’s a question that most men are dying to be asked. His response? Clean socks. That’s all he could come up with. Life would be better, his marriage would be richer, if Diane would keep his drawer filled with clean socks. I wanted to throw him out the window.
I wasn’t angry with Ted because his answer was unbelievably shallow, or because it mocked all that his wife was seeking to offer him. I was angry because it’s just not true. We are made in the image of God; we carry within us the desire for our true life of intimacy and adventure. To say we want less than that is to lie. Ted may believe that clean socks would satisfy him, but he is deceived. His satisfaction comes at the price of his soul.
When I brought up this very issue with a colleague, he sort of dismissed it all with the comment, “Not everyone longs like you do.” I had to admit that much. But we were meant to. I thought of The Weight of Glory, where Lewis says that “when we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.”