Picture a beautiful sunny day. A young couple is aboard an elegant yacht. They look forward to enjoying a romantic day together as they set out to sea in calm waters. The course has already been plotted, supplies were packed and newly married Sarah and Jake want to discover the world through the lens of their love.
They have planned many activities that they want to engage in together and look forward with great anticipation to creating beautiful memories together. This is one of their first. At some point, though, the sky starts to darken and a refreshing breeze unexpectedly picks up in intensity. Sarah and Jake suddenly find themselves in a precarious and highly energized environment. The wind and the waves will carry the vessel off course if action isn't quickly taken. Of course, the seasoned captain piloting the yacht will make adjustments to ensure that all is well.
A call to "abandon ship" would be completely irrational and totally premature at this point. Any experienced captain would be able to determine that present conditions are not that menacing. But, what if the husband and wife decided to take the boat out to sea themselves?.
In a foolhardy attempt to demonstrate a false sense of mastery, they set sail without sufficient training. They decided to rely on watching a few Youtube videos. This time, as the sea starts to churn, they would be totally justified in panicking. They don’t have boating skills to rely on, so they fall back to their default programming.
Sarah and Jake panic and lose their focus. Instead of working as a team, they become totally self-focused. Before long, they are each adrift in their own tiny lifeboat. The yacht sits empty of people and of love. What a tragedy.
So it is with our marriages. We don't necessarily grow up in families that are able to teach us the greatest relationship skills. As long as everything is going our way, we can enjoy what we have. But, as soon as something triggers our anxiety, we turn inward and neglect each other.
In every marriage, this happens daily. A need or want of yours prompts you to do something. This doesn't sit well with your spouse. Perhaps they feel unimportant or even insulted. Rather than let you know how they feel they suck it up or punish you by sulking.
Only, you are able to sense a change in their attitude. As their positivity declines, you now feel threatened. So, what do you do? You might also pull away. Or maybe you become a little bit snarky. The day ends. Round 1.
Day after day, you leave the ring hurting and dizzy. Before you know it, you start to notice that coworker of yours. The sizzle has left the bedroom. Those beautiful eyes that you enjoyed looking into turn cold and stony.
You forget to take out the garbage, yet again. Your partner then neglects something that is important to you. Mistake after mistake pile one on top of the other and the massive weight of misery crushes the relationship. Depression sets in. Physical symptoms set in. Wow. You really made a mistake when you married. What a stupid choice of a partner. You wonder how you were drawn to this selfish, inconsiderate and nasty person.
Only, that's not necessarily true. Think of each disappointment as adding a very thin layer of dirt on a rough diamond. Before you know it, you think that you are looking at some worthless rock. And, guess what? That's how you treat them.
But, if instead, you were to look at each disappointment as a learning experience. You would each share how you felt and what you needed. In response, your still beloved would try their hardest to do what you need next time. They may even try to anticipate what to do in a novel situation. Yes, some mistakes will still be made. Yet, overall, each disappointment has elevated you and the respect you feel for one another.
That rough diamond you hold starts to shine. As life happens, you turn to each other for support. And you make sure to offer to be there for each other. The next time a strong wind blows, two experienced captains work together to set the course right again.
So, when you notice that your precious beloved is looking to you for help. Look back and reach out. Make a decision to be there for them. The world isn't flat, two decent people can still turn your ship around and head for port.