While on an airplane this past week, we (Team Fortified) were conversing about the subject of flying and a couple of parallels that you can draw between flying successfully and having a happy marriage. We had also listened to a similar illustration from one of our mentors, Jimmy Evans. Let’s share a couple of these thoughts with you.
Despite the fears expressed by many people, flying is the safest means of transportation.
Can you believe that? Yes, it is true that when an air mishap happens, it is often a disaster. Yet, air transportation is the fastest and safest means of transportation available to mankind today (for every 1 billion passenger miles traveled by plane, only 0.07 will die). While the effects of divorce and failed marriages can also be catastrophic, this doesn’t negate the benefits inherent in a God-ordained marriage. Marriage is a beautiful thing when done right and when done according to the owner/ manufacturer’s instructions. Once the airplane respects the laws of aerodynamics, it is good to go. When you obey the laws of marriage, it works. It thrives. It keeps flying high.
An airplane without fuel is destined to crash land.
We’ve read and listened to a few stories of planes that crash-landed because they ran out of fuel/gas. No matter how experienced the pilot/co-pilot is, there’s not much they can do when a plane is out of fuel. That’s why planes are constantly refueling before taking off again. The same is true of great marriages. Both parties are conscious of the need to constantly stop and refuel. Do you sense that your marriage is running out of gas? It might just be time to refuel. Great marriages need different types of fuel.
- God fuel: This is a critical one that most people do not pay attention to. It’s important you get this right. Your spouse is not designed to meet all your emotional needs. It would be very unfair to expect him/her to. Only God can meet ALL your needs. To say it more directly, you can only love your spouse out of the abundance of the love of God flowing in your heart. You need to refuel in God’s presence on a consistent basis is you want your marriage to keep flying high. Going 2-3 days without being with the Lord changes your personality and affect your relationship with your spouse.
- Spouse fuel: God designed your spouse to meet some specific needs that you have, and vice versa. You need to plan for lots of fun. When last did you take a full day off to spend time with your spouse, uninterrupted and undisturbed? Okay, we get it, a full day is a big challenge. A full hour, anyone? It’s very unsafe going a couple of days without connecting with your spouse.
- Friend fuel: You and your spouse are not an island of your own. You need a good support system (friends, family) to keep flying high. Successful marriages are surrounded by other successful ones. The same is true for miserable ones! Do your friends drain your marriage fuel or fill you up?
The danger of autopilot.
God bless the inventors of the autopilot! It has made flying much easier. Frequent fliers would understand that up to 90% of their flight time is done by the auto-pilot. As long as everything is okay, the auto-pilot is great! However, sometimes things go wrong. There is great turbulence, and the skills of the pilot are required. That’s why a pilot needs to be constantly alert and to update himself for moments such as this. It’s been said that a pilot requires more flying skills for a small jet than a big jetliner, as it requires more manual intervention. It is a dangerous thing to fully depend on autopilot. The same is true for great marriages. You can’t leave it on auto-pilot every time. Every couple will need to keep reinventing themselves, keep learning and keep growing…. together. It’s dangerous to use yesterday’s ideas to run your marriage today. What new thing have you learned, done, or practiced? What new place have you taken your wife to? Are you under the assumption that because your marriage survived the last 5 years, it would continue to survive without you doing anything? Think again, dear friend.
You do need a co-pilot
Have you ever been in an airplane without a copilot? What about one in which they are both at loggerheads? That’s not a good sign, is it? Yet, we see many marriages where one party is completely absent and has left the marriage cockpit for the other partner to run all alone. What a huge pressure such a spouse will be carrying on his/her shoulder. At other times, they are present but are seldom in agreement about anything. The best of flights are those where the pilot and copilots are fully engaged and in alignment. This is also what happens when the pilot and copilot on the marriage cockpit are in sync, not in the way of doing this necessarily but in purpose and destination. What a joy that ride would be. Even when the storm or turbulence arises, you’re sure that the plane will land safely.
Call to action:
Have a discussion with your spouse on how they think you can refuel in your marriage going into the new year. Agree on 1-2 things (not more) that you’d both do to spice things up.