Marriage is a relational Rubik’s cube
I love this mind-tester. You keep moving the squares trying to get one color lined up and then the other side is jacked up. So you spend time trying to get that color matching and… well.. you know the rest. One silly square out of place. Is this frustrating or fun, or both? Am I crazy? stupid? And of course there are always the “smart ones” who slam it down completed in 12 seconds or less. Yeah. We hate those people.
Marriage can look a lot like this. It’s heart- tester if you will. You work on this part of your relationship and then something (or someone) else gets out of whack. So you adjust hoping to “get it all together” at one time. Sigh. And much like the toy, there are the couples who say, “We have never had a fight.” Yeah we hate those people too. (Just kidding. Sort of. )
But hope rises with practice. As with the Rubik’s cube, it takes skill to master the myriad of relationships. I really thought in our marriage it was just me and Chuck, two sides, two colors. No problem. In fact, our families were not in our equation of marriage, or so we thought. However, idea of “just the two of us” got pretty crowded pretty quickly. Turns out you can’t get rid of your roots. It was me and Chuck and my family and his family. My friends and his friends. My teachers, enemies, old lovers, and role models, and his as well. Then you add children. The colored squares just multiplied. Again.
These ghosts of past, present, and future really impacted our ability to connect, trust, and listen to each other. The way our respective parents would fight, make up, handle money, do God — all that was sitting at the dining room table with us when we were trying to fight, make up, handle money, and do God.
One day in the early years, this came into full view. Chuck and I were fighting (for you couples who “don’t” that means the two of you disagree loudly) and he looked at me and said, “I am not your dad. I am not your ex. I am not your brothers. I am not your professor. I am not any of those guys…”
What courage and insight it was for him to lay it out for me so plainly. I wasn’t even listening to what Chuck was saying. I had gone into auto-pilot reaction as if I was confronting one of them.
This is true whether you had a great life history or not. We have been relationally trained by others, for better or for worse. And we have to learn how to relate in a loving way to our mates. Here is a newsflash.
It takes time to learn to be truly present and listening.
Not recalling old wounds, offenses or disappointments. Not thinking of your to do list or rebuttal. Not letting old triggers cause you to react instead of engage. But instead, really listening to the present need or issue of the moment. Really lending your heart and spirit to the moving parts of the relational Rubik’s cube”— it’s called relationship. Friendship. Companionship. It’s not easy but worth it.
Honesty, patience, safety, hope. These four qualities totally change the condition of most marriages. They are not something you demand from your mate, but something you cultivate with God and then pour it out on your mate. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes God.
“I never thought marriage would be this much work.” How many times have I heard this? Ever tried to work a Rubik’s cube? That’s a toy. This is for life.