Tandem Living: Being There For One Another

20130718-162721.jpgOver the last couple of months, I’ve been talking about how marriage and tandem bicycling mirror each other. It’s been pretty fun for me. There is one more thing that I thought I would talk about as I wrap up this series. More often than not lately, David and I have been riding our individual bikes. I ride as early in the morning as I am able, before it gets hot, and David needs to go to work. But even on weekends, we ride our separate bikes, because the workout is better. We’re still riding together, just not on the same bike.

What matters in our individual riding is that we are attempting to make ourselves stronger. What makes that bearable—especially to one who is not an exercise fanatic—is that we know we are on each other’s side. David is cheering me on in my attempts to be healthier. I pretty much have couch-potato tendencies if I don’t really work at overcoming them. I need all the encouragement I can get.

The same applies to how we approach our family life. I spend so much time focused on others, that I really have to work at taking time for myself. That’s really hard. Responsibilities never go away, and, in fact, more keep wanting to jump onto my already overflowing pile. Ignoring them isn’t an option; controlling them is crucial. When I feel overwhelmed by my responsibilities, and have to focus on them rather than David, I need to know that he’s on my side.

We just got back from a week of working in California. The day after we got back I had to jump right back into teaching, grading papers, getting ready for report cards and doing my magazine copy editing. Thankfully, David was able to take some comp time and go to the grocery store, clean the house and do some loads of laundry. Because we value the couple of times a year that we can work together out of town, the responsibilities when we return have to be shared.

We have to have each other’s backs. If I felt like my husband resented my responsibilities, I would be lost. I have to know that when the responsibilities are again under control, he will still be there, because he’s been encouraged before to be strong, and he’s been encouraging me the same way.

Previous to the both of us working at this out-of-town conference, David had been gone for 10 days. That left all the duties of the household and the kids on my shoulders. But that’s OK. He needed to be gone; I needed to pick up the slack. That’s the way it’s done. He encourages me to stand strong, and I encourage him.

Right now, our old tandem bike needs a lot of repair. We haven’t been riding it because we don’t know if it’ll make another trip before we have a chance to fix it—or replace it.

Thankfully, our marriage isn’t in the same boat. Yes, this has been a busy time since we returned from California. We haven’t spent any time alone. We haven’t talked through any issues that are weighing on us. We haven’t had a whole lot of fun. But that’s OK. It happens sometimes. We know we’re not in trouble because we are committed to each other and are on each other’s team. Sometimes we find ourselves simply standing on the sidelines, cheering on the other person. And sometimes that cheering is all we can hear.

And in the end, absolutely none of this would be possible without the strength that God gives us. The Holy Spirit is essential if we are to keep going. Does my husband feel loved by me? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do I have the strength to face the pressures of each day? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Can we get back on track with those pesky responsibilities put in their places and the priorities back where they belong? Absolutely, because not only are we on each other’s side, but we have the Creator of the universe right there with us.

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