With summer travel in earnest, you might be considering boarding an airplane to take you to your destination for fun and relaxation. When we were younger (and it was our first few times flying) it seemed like such an adventure. Now, after many multiple flights, it too often ends up being a major hassle. This is kind of like marriage – at the start it is so fun and exciting, but after years of the journey, too often it ends up often seeming like more trouble than it’s worth. To help you on your journey, we’ve put together some Marital Flight Rules that will help you regain or retain the sense of adventure.
Copyright: andresr / 123RF Stock Photo
1) Everyone has baggage. Some is carry on, some is check on. Everyone enters marriage with “baggage” – EVERYONE! Some of that is very visible. Little idiosyncrasies from how we have been raised, or the culture we’re from, or just from our unique way of seeing the world around us. This is totally normal, even though it may be frustrating to our spouse. But we all also have hidden baggage – learned parenting skills or financial management that are destructive; emotional constructs that impact our relational success or failure; sexual activities prior to marriage (either with your now spouse, someone else, or pornography) that effects your relationship and sexual behavior after the “I do”; abuse in the past that has not been dealt with; damage from divorce; lack of understanding yourself enough to enter the marital relationship with a mature frame of mind. Of course this list is not exhaustive. What can be exhaustive – and exhausting – is that even if the “check ons” are hidden at the beginning of the flight, at some point they will come to the surface and will have to be dealt with. It’s all part of the successful journey of marriage, so don’t get discouraged! (Did you bring your dysfunctional childhood into your marriage?)
2) There will be turbulence. Everyone who been flying for any length of time knows that very few flights are completely smooth from takeoff to landing. As the plane passes through the air it encounters invisible pockets of varying pressure as well as currents, causing the plane to suddenly rise and fall. Usually it is not too concerning (and can actually be a bit fun). When severe enough, though, it can cause serious injury.
Marriage can be like this as well. Every marriage has normal ups and downs, which, while somewhat disturbing, can also be enjoyable, if relationship growth comes from them. Then, there are also occurrences that almost seem like the video above. Financial setbacks, health emergencies, car or home accidents, deaths of family members, relationship crises that seem to hit without warning. All these and more can create havoc in your marriage. So what do you do?
First, don’t get out of your seat, and stay buckled! It’s easy during these times to want to try and run to greater safety. Resist! Second, spend time going back over the most important positive events in your married life.
- What were your favorite dates?
- What are your best/worst hotel experiences?
- Recount what one vacation together you would relive if you could.
- Make a list of the most memorable POSITIVE sexual experiences.
- Share some of the things your liked/didn’t like about each place you’ve lived.
- anything else that reminds you of your good history together
Those good memories are what keeps you in place during turbulent times. Third, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help.
3) Have a destination picked out when you start. No one would get on a plane without knowing where it will land. You have to have a destination determined before boarding. What about marriage? “Til death do us part.” Historically this has been part of vows recited at weddings by both spouses. However, as is too often the case, this seems more of a fantasy than a reality. Does that mean that it should not still be the goal? Hardly. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of long-term marriage. Every day, remind yourself of this destination. Just like you wouldn’t start flying without knowing where you’re going, plan from the beginning (or start now) that “Til death do us part.” is still the ideal.
4) Don’t get off until you get there. How many of us have heard the speech about what to do with the loss of cabin pressure (“Pulling the mask toward you will start the flow of oxygen…”) or what to do in the event of a water landing (“Your seat cushion will act as a flotation device…”)? Of all the flights we’ve been on, we have yet to hear the flight attendant say, “If you desire to get off of the plane in mid-flight, please press your button as we have parachutes available.” Many times marriage problems show up within the first 5-7 years. It’s at this point too many couples opt for the parachute of divorce. We are not advocating remaining in a an abusive marriage. If you are in an abusive situation, seek help immediately! What we are advocating is to not move to ending the marriage when the normal turbulence of marriage occurs. In fact, if you make it through the first 7 years, you are more likely to make it all the way to “Til death do us part.”
5) Trust other, more experienced flyers. The first time we each went on a flight, we had so many questions. What luggage should I use? How early should we arrive at the airport? What toiletries should I take? Window or aisle seat? Am I taking too many clothes? Etc. Now, we have been able to answer those questions for our oldest child as he went away to college for his freshman year. Asking those who have successfully flown makes a huge difference. For your marriage to be successful, it’s vital to find out what others have done who have solid marriages and learn from that. Do a search online for advice from other couples, but be ready to filter out those things that would not benefit your relationship or fit into the principles of an Unashamed Marriage. Beyond that, look for couples that you know who have solid marriages and ask them to mentor you. It will have tremendous benefits!
6) Enjoy the in-flight refreshments and entertainment. When you’re on a cheap one hour flight (and even longer ones), you’re going to get a soda and maybe some pretzels. It’s fun to watch the flight attendants pass out the goodies and then quickly pick up the garbage before the plane lands! Then there are longer flights where you can order your meal to your preference (and enjoy a movie that’s offered). When we’re on the soda and pretzel flights, we don’t refuse what’s being offered just because other flights have place settings and meals designed by food stylists. Wherever your marriage is at, enjoy the benefits of what’s there in front of you.
God has designed marriage to be full of joy, refreshment and entertainment, when it is lived unashamed. In fact, living out the 9 principles of an Unashamed Marriage will help to make sure they are present in your marriage.
7) Lose some baggage on the way. It was our first flight with all three of our children, two of which were under the age of two. How were we to balance the car seats we would need for our rental car when we arrived with our connecting flights? We made mistakes the first time and we were traveling from one gate to the next with all of the car seats and fixtures. On the return flight home, we found there was a lot more luggage that could be checked in, we didn’t have to carry it with us through all the connecting flights. We even combined our things in to one carry on diaper bag/wonder bag. We adjusted and kept things simpler, enjoying the flight home much more than our trip out. A few other times, our luggage has been delayed and had to be delivered by shuttle. As technology has improved there is much less lost luggage, but here are tips to minimize that even more. (Curious about what’s been found in lost or unclaimed luggage?)
There are some things in your marriage that always need to stay in the forefront – baggage that NEEDS to be lost. Do you have carry-on items that really should have been put into the cargo hold? It’s OK for most or all of that to be lost in transit. Also, know that others on the marriage plane may have extra baggage as well. Be careful not to add to your burden while even on the flight. Regularly go to marriage programs, read marriage strengthening materials, take part in online or offline assessments to see where you are at, or, if necessary, seek a flight attendant (a.k.a. marriage therapist/counselor).
Make your marital journey the best it can be! Thanks for flying, UNASHAMED AIRLINES!