Last night, as my wife and I were watching television, she abruptly asked me, “What are three things you love about me?” The question was prompted by something she saw on Facebook, but such questions from her are not unusual. Knowing her as well as I do, I knew that she was not just fishing for compliments. From before we were married, she has had and maintained an insatiable curiosity to understand what makes me tick. It wasn’t about feeling complimented, though she benefits from that.It’s an ongoing key part of communication in marriage.
She really just wants to understand me.
She also wants to be understood. Which means I made it a point to ask her what she loves about me. While it’s nice to hear compliments, my real motive in asking was to understand a little better what makes her tick. It isn’t about just gaining some knowledge, but it is a matter of emotional connection.
These conversations happen often in our marriage. Which is why I got excited not long ago when I read a paragraph about Adam and Eve in a book called The Prophets by Abraham Heshel. Referring to the sons of Eli the high priest, he quoted 1 Samuel 2:12: “They were base men; they knew not the Lord.” He then elaborated on the meaning of “knew.” “Knowledge in the sense of information they must have had; what they lacked was an inner commitment or an emotional attachment.”
To illustrate further, he referenced Genesis 4:1, which, in the old translations reads, “Adam knew his wife.” The Hebrew word is yada, which has a much wider range of meaning than just sexual relations. It can mean “realize,” as in Genesis 3:7, where Adam and Eve realized they were naked. It can mean recognize or perceive, as in Exodus 6:7, where God says, “Then you will know that I am the LORD.” It can mean to care about or be concerned about, as in Genesis 39:6, where after Potiphar put all of his affairs into Joseph’s hands, “he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.” Heshel wrote, concerning Adam and Eve:
“ ‘Adam yada Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain’ (Gen. 4:1). It is usually rendered ‘Adam knew Eve his wife.’ The word is used here as well as elsewhere in the Bible in a sense of intimate sexual relationship. It is, however, likely that the sense in which it is used here refers to a total relationship, emotional as well as sexual. A more accurate translation would be ‘Adam attached himself to Eve his wife.’”
Yada denotes a natural curiosity, a desire to know and understand. What makes your spouse tick? Do you understand how he or she thinks? If not, you should start asking some questions. The answers will probably surprise you, challenge you, and ultimately please you.