Written by Christian Speaker Network Member, Sue Hamilton
“In marriage our life is back and forth, give and take.”
Those of you who remember the old wooden teeter totters that every elementary school had in the 1970s will have the correct picture in your head for this analogy. Those of you who are younger will need to look it up on-line to find a picture to help you envision the object.
The teeter totters were constructed of a heavy piece of wood about twelve feet long and two inches thick, at each end there were curves on each side in which to place your legs, and on top was a metal bar to hold on. The idea was to find a partner who was close to you in size so it would be balanced evenly in weight to make the up and down motion a nice ride. It was often challenging to find the right partner to make it balance well, and many times you’d have to deal with whoever reached the teeter totter at the same time you did. On a good day, all was fine because your usual partner and you arrived at the same time and the ride was enjoyable for the entire recess. On other days, you’d get a partner that was bigger and not like you and it was a rough ride. They would try to bounce you off by leveraging their weight and strength to make their end hit the ground as hard as they could tolerate with hopes to knock you off and send you flying to the ground. If you got an equally ornery playmate and this action started taking place, you’d be going up and down and slamming the ground repeatedly while both of you hung on as tightly as you could with neither getting knocked off. It was a rough ride because you had to hang on so tight and fight with all the muscles you had to stay on as you both went up and down.
This is how marriage can be – one person on the teeter totter hitting on the ground and the other nearly being knocked off and wanting to give up, yet both holding on as tight as we could and not being willing to give up to be thumped to the ground.
The hard hits to the ground can include going through a nervous breakdown, an illness, death in the family, a tragic accident, financial loss, or children turning to addictive behaviors.
When a marriage can stay together through these challenges of life it gets to the stage where it can be compared to an enjoyable ride on the teeter totter when the right partner is on the other end. The couple is evenly balanced, you know how the other one moves and takes action, you can sense a slight shift when they need to reposition, and you know when the other is tired and needs to rest and be done for a period of time.
It takes time to get to this stage of marriage; it doesn’t happen within the first few years. I thought I knew my husband well after being with him the first ten years, then we started to have several bumps. Our individual personalities started shining through as the comfortable stage of marriage sank in. Life challenges hit us, like in any marriage, and blaming the other person seemed so much easier. This was the time when it would have been easy to simply walk away. We stuck it out.
In marriage our life is back and forth, give and take through the entire marriage, NOT just the beginning years. It must be all the way to the end when God takes us home to be with Him in heaven. As men and women will view things differently through many situations in our lives, we will always be similar enough to relate and understand each other, yet different enough to butt heads. It’s when one of the people chooses NOT to give and take and simply wants to knock the other person off the teeter totter and be done to find another partner is when it gets really rough.
One of the hardest parts of marriage life is when one partner doesn’t want to play anymore and decides to walk away. When marriage is entered into, it doesn’t mean that we ride on coast mode, let everything go, think no additional work is needed, and it will all work out by itself. No, marriage takes on a life of its own. There must be give and take, understanding and love, along with good and tough times. God wants us to be together, to work with each other, and to be helpers for one another. He made us to be together from the beginning of time.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18 NIV
Tips for a Successful Married Life:
1. Get up early to spend time with God.
2. Kiss him goodbye and tell him you love him.
3. Eat and pray together at meals.
4. Always hug and kiss him before going to sleep.