Items which run on batteries are irritations waiting to happen. Something stops working. You’ve got to find a new battery; sometimes that means going to the store. You’ve got to open the battery compartment. You’ve got to figure out which end goes which way. And then you’ve got to dispose of the battery in a way that doesn’t burn the house down.
The reason for the tedious process is that all batteries have one thing in common: the power eventually runs out. You either have to keep changing the batteries, or you somehow find a power source that never runs out.
It’s the same way with marriage. Some marriages seem to run out of power a few years into them, as if they run on batteries.
I was recently talking with Randy Gariss, co-director of the Life and Ministry Preparation Center at Ozark Christian College. Randy and his wife Julie are sought-after marriage counselors, and they’ve seen their share of marriages which have run out of power.
Randy was explaining to me that there are basically three kinds of marriages in the Western world. Two of them can be illustrated using batteries. So, if you’re married or someday will be, ask yourself which of the three marriages you are building.
The first kind of marriage, according to Randy, is based on the idea that, if the other person meets my needs well enough, then I will be able to love the person the rest of my life. The problem with this is that everyone of us is deeply flawed. As James 3:2 puts it, “For we all stumble in many ways.” So, when we feel like our spouse isn’t meeting our needs the way we thought he or she would, we feel resentment. Typically lasting one-to-three years, this is the marriage Randy likens to a double-A battery. When it’s used up, the double-A battery gets tossed in the trash.
The second kind of marriage typically lasts five-to-eight years and can be compared with a 9-volt battery. This type of marriage is typically built on common interest, compatibility, and friendship. Marriages built on these things still run out of power because none of us are rocks, and none of us marry rocks. As Randy puts it, you look up in 15 years and realize that personalities and circumstances have shifted. As time goes on, the couple drifts apart. Just like it is sometimes tough to know whether to store or toss a used 9-volt battery, some 9-volt marriages can last decades, but the life has been drained within the first five-to-eight years.
Thankfully, there is another kind of marriage you can build.
The third kind of marriage is built on something we learn from the Gospel, namely, that you lose your life to find it. This is the husband who commits to serving his wife, investing in her, and taking care of her needs whether he feels like it or not. And the great surprise is that such a husband is going to fall more in love with his wife with each passing year. Why? It’s because your heart follows what you invest yourself in. It’s the couple which commits to serving each other for the long hall that will grow old together, hand in hand.
You can renew your marriage by renewing your everyday commitment to serve each other.