We bought our tandem bike in South Africa in 1994. Since then, we have changed the seats a couple of times until we found ones that are comfortable, we have gotten new handle bars that sit us more upright, and David has cleaned it and adjusted some things every now and then. After 19 years, it needs work. It’s a very heavy bike, so it’s not one we would consider high quality. But it gets us where we want to go. David often talks of selling it and getting something better. I’m kind of sentimental and want to hang on to it. For right now, it’s working for us.
Now, my husband’s road bike and our Townie and cruiser bikes, those are a different story. I mentioned before that David is a bike snob, so he bought those with special attention to quality. They’re not top-of-the-line, which we can’t afford, but they’re not Huffys, off the rack at Wal-Mart. But what would happen if we just let those bikes sit out in the rain and sun, never cleaned them or made sure their gears and brakes and tire tubes were in good shape? Well, we wouldn’t have them for long.
One day recently, both David’s road bike and my Townie got flat tires on the same day. And I did something to mine that caused my brake to start dragging on the front tire. And then there was the near spill I had that broke the bottle cage. All these things needed to be fixed before the bikes would be truly road worthy again. (Well, the bottle cage is still waiting to be replaced.)
The same is true of our marriage. Many years ago when our kids were still little, for Christmas I gave David the gift of agreeing to see a marriage counselor. We didn’t have huge, divorce-on-the-horizon problems, but David had been pushing for us to talk to someone about some issues that just were’t going to go away without help. Our marriage needed a tune-up. We loved each other, we were committed to each other, but we had some things going on from our histories that were putting roadblocks in our future. Those needed to be torn down.
I have a friend who has been married just short of a year whose husband refuses to go to counseling because he thinks that seeing a counselor means that you’re crazy.
It doesn’t. In fact, it means you’re very smart. Although David knows a lot about bikes, he still takes our nice bikes to a bike shop for a professional to work on, because he knows that he doesn’t know everything. He wants what he loves in the hands of those who know what to do with it.
There are people who’ve been married a lot longer than we have. There are people who have been trained to ask the right questions and dig beyond the surface. They’re the ones to whom we want to entrust our most valuable relationship. And counseling isn’t always necessary. Sometimes just attending a conference like FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember or The Art of Marriage, or joining a couples Bible study, or reading a marriage book together will highlight some areas where work needs to be done. (Comment below if you’d like some ideas of books to consider.)
Keeping our bikes road worthy is a priority as we spend a lot of time on them. Making our marriages shine is even more important.