I was sitting and thinking about marriages (like I like to do often enough when I’m just sitting around doing nothing but wait for my kid to finish swimming) and I thought through some of the reasons why some marriages fall apart or fail. I’m the kind of person that likes to think this way because I like to analyze where my marriage is at according to the information I gather and see how I can improve or dodge various potholes that can so easily happen. I’m not out here criticizing, (I don’t have time to be knee deep in the drama of it all) but rather observing, taking notes and applying various theories to where we are at.
Ok, so there’s a few “lines” I hear from different sides of the parties involved when a marriage fails and they can sound like this,
“I just don’t love him/her anymore”
“The spark isn’t there and hasn’t been for a while”
“I didn’t see it coming – I didn’t see the problem”
These are the ones I was thinking about – there are so many others (abuse being a major one) but that can of worms can definitely be dealt with by a professional and my little opinion can not jump into that pond, for sure.
But I thought about these words, “spark”, “anymore” and “didn’t see”. I’m going to be upfront and definitely say that my marriage is not perfect in no way, shape or form – and the future is filled with two humans that have their God given free wills in place – so when I share my thoughts and opinions it is from a stand point of the present and working with what we’ve got and what has been working for us and I “hope” will work in the future. (Why God made us this way, I still don’t know and will definitely be asking Him for the back story one day)
So, these words ‘spark, anymore and didn’t see’ – I thought about what they meant in this context. Including myself – We all too often place a utopian brush to the painting’s of our lives and especially when it comes to relationships. Of course we all want our lives to be filled with rainbows, hearts and kisses but, real life isn’t like that all of the time. So I thought about the “spark” that happens in a relationship – you know what I’m talking about, right? When everything is new and when you look at each other from across the room and inside you’re like, “Hey there sugar, break me off a piece of that!”
It’s wonderful to have that – but if we’re equating our relationship to a fire we have to be sure we understand what that means.
If you’ve ever had to make a fire you’ll know that it starts with a spark and if that fire has no boundaries or fuel it can go one of two ways. It could set alight and just destroy everything within its path and leave a whole lot of mess behind. Or it would burn for all of 5 minutes and die out because no one was feeding the fire with fuel and then you’re searching for that so called “spark” to try and get it going again.
Now, both of these outcomes are tragic and leave nothing of solid worth behind – but what the word “spark” made me think about is that the beautiful thing about a relationship that has been constructed well before the spark happens and has a plan to it – that fire normally lasts longer and gives warmth to those around it. When I say constructed – The metaphor I’m going for here is that there was fuel before the spark came. The individuals brought something to the table and the spark set it alight. I don’t want to go into the whole “building the relationship” part – because that’s for a more single life perspective – but in light of marriage and not losing that “spark”, when a good fire is tended to and taken care of it does well. So a marriage that is being seen to and taken care of and the necessary fuel is being added consistently then that marriage would do well. It’s when it is left alone and other activities take the focus off it, that is starts to die down and fade.
What I love about this metaphor is that yes, there isn’t that “spark” all the time, but have you ever sat next to a fire and suddenly out of nowhere a piece of wood will just pop a spark out of the fire place? That’s how I can liken a healthy marriage. You’re investing into each other – it takes work, watching and refueling and then out of nowhere there’s a spark that just happens because of “new” things discovered and enjoyed together – but it isn’t the focus and reason for the fire.
So when I hear someone say that the “spark” is gone – My first question is and will always be, “were you putting fuel on the fire? Were you doing the work?”
Now, don’t get me wrong – marriage isn’t all about slogging it out and suffering through to the end. There’s moments you work and then there’s times you chill and enjoy the warmth but we have to make sure we stay fueled or else it’s a complete waste of time hoping that the fire will just stay alive and stand the test of time.
With the other two words “anymore” and “didn’t see” – after my metaphor, you kind of put two and two together. When the work is put in and the time is taken to really see and invest in each other – the “anymore” doesn’t have a chance because you’re always looking at your fire and keeping it burning, as a team.
The “didn’t see” part shouldn’t happen when both sides of the marriage are choosing to be fully invested in the team. If we don’t choose to look together where to place the fuel for the next stage or next need in our lives then the coals of our relationship start to roll out and can potentially start another fire outside of the fire that was originally meant to be focused on together. Togetherness is choosing to serve each other and being vulnerable enough to say where the gaps are and lovingly working to assist each other with our gaps. When we try to fill our own gaps, it can work – but being open with your spouse about what you’re needing and what you’re working on is part of the work. And on the flip side – it’s being gracious to the gap and being willing to help your spouse with their gap.
I hope this makes sense – it’s something we work at all of the time. Love grows when it is fed well and when we choose each other every day.