Well today (that is, when I first wrote out this post) I was going to publish a post about building a heavy-duty marriage. However when I searched through my existing posts I realised that I had already written a post with many of the same thoughts, called “I don’t love you anymore“. Please read that post to get a basic background to this topic.
Here I would like to add a few additional points to this topic or express thoughts in a different way.
One of my favourite recurring themes here on Finding Mr Huggie-Wuggie is that marriage is challenging. This is for two reasons. Firstly it is because of the hard work of merging two proudly independent individuals into one entity and one life. Secondly it is because life itself is often deeply challenging. Because of that, conventional dating with its emphasis on frothy lighthearted fun and romance often provides a flimsy preparation for the serious work that follows. This is why many relationships that have been built on dating often flounder and struggle within marriage, because they simply have not been built for the heavy-duty work that marriage involves. So the point of this post then is to encourage readers to deliberately build a heavy-duty relationship to withstand the heavy-duty challenges that will come within marriage. Dating, fun and romance will need to play a part within that, as they will within marriage. To me though, building a relationship on nothing other than these is a recipe for marital misery.
What does it mean for something to be heavy-duty?
When something is heavy-duty, it is built for strong work. It is also built for easily and reliably repeating strenuous tasks endlessly, over and over and over again. If we were to consider objects, a heavy-duty tool might be made of thicker steel, possibly of a different composition or chemical make-up to light-duty tools. It has good quality components, nuts and bolts. It is built to last. A light-duty tool on the other hand, perhaps something designed for only a single use, might not be made of steel at all, but rather of plastic. It only has to stay together for that one use so it does not have to be built to withstand endless knocks. It can use lower-quality components, that might not withstand much force, and it does not demand such high quality workmanship as with a heavy-duty object. Here is the thing though with either of these tools: when human beings are creating these objects, neither of these cases is an accident; whether an object is deliberately built as a heavy-duty tool, or whether it is mass-produced as a single use object.
I believe that the same needs to be true of marriage. I believe that all marriages need to be deliberately created as heavy-duty tools or objects. I know that to a certain extent different marriages will predictably have different challenges. Some of us will have different goals from other people, and these goals in themselves will bring extra challenges absent from other marriages. However, I still think that all marriages need to be planned as heavy-duty enterprises as life itself is a heavy-duty enterprise, no matter what goals you may or may not cultivate for your life.
A heavy-duty marriage requires two heavy-duty people
I believe that for optimum marital success you need to have two individuals who are in and of themselves built for strength. A Christian marriage involves three parties: husband, wife and God. However, God is already heavy-duty and full strength – He always has been, and He always will be (Hallelujah!) If you have a marriage of two featherweights then I am not saying that they will necessarily split up. However I can imagine that life would be a constant struggle for them – but this would have been the same if they had remained single. Perhaps they would have to remain at a certain manageable level in life, where people who are stronger can press on to higher levels. However if you are two heavy-duty people then I imagine that because of that it would be easier to build a heavy-duty marriage – because building/planning your life for strength and endurance is already a habit you have cultivated even from singleness. I believe that if the two of you are individually “heavy duty” people, then your marriage is already strongly directed towards success.
How to become a heavy-duty person
If we were to think now of athletes, we can consider them as heavy-duty people because they can literally take on heavy loads or difficult physical tasks and manage them easily, where the rest of us would instantly buckle or take twice as long to complete the same tasks. Athletes get to this state by constantly practising, setting themselves small but challenging tasks, and gradually increasing the level of difficulty. While they are practising athletes they make this a habit in their lives, until they get to the point where they can spontaneously run a hundred metres in under 10 seconds or jump 10 metres in the long jump or three metres high in the air. They practise in a nice safe controlled environment, giving themselves time and space to fail and get up again as many times as necessary, until they come to a place of consistent excellence, so that in the actual competition they can give it their all, and be reasonably confident of being their best (although in an actual competition or race, only one person can actually win).
I believe that as Christians the way we become “heavy-duty” metaphorically speaking, is by being grounded in God and in His word, and in prayer. We can get stronger and stronger by knowing God more, being immersed in the Bible, evaluating our own conduct against the Bible, and changing as necessary. This is like practising in a safe, controlled environment. Then after we have been practising for a while, sometimes an unexpected crisis might hit us. Then we might use the strength we have developed to easily deal with the problem. This is like spontaneously running the hundred metres very quickly. Or perhaps we fail in the face of that particular crisis. This is like coming last in the hundred metres race. All it would mean for an athlete is that you would go back to review your technique, and train harder – until you get to place where you do succeed at the level you aspire to. This is what failure in the face of crises should also indicate to us as Christians: not there yet, will try/pray harder! With each prayer we offer, each time we cry out for Christ-like character, it is like we are adding layers to ourselves, and the components of our internal make-up are becoming better quality – better quality character, better quality discipline, better quality commitment – and the composition of our nature is also improving and becoming better, metaphorically this improves the quality of our metal – or our mettle – so that altogether we become stronger people.
12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
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