Tag Archive | tandem bicycles

The Battle For Oneness

I’m just going to put this out there: The longevity of a marriage is not an indication of oneness.

sc0079bb1fMy parents-in-law divorced after 48 years of marriage. My sister-in-law and her husband separated and are heading toward divorce after 30 years of marriage. When people say they’ve been married for more than 20 years, we applaud them. But no matter how many years you are married, you have to work on oneness. It doesn’t come automatically with a ring and some vows.

Oneness means vulnerability and trust and truth and humility. It means caring about someone else’s needs before your own. It means sacrifice and teamwork. And love. Most of all, love.

My husband, David, and I will have been married 27 years on March 2nd. I think we have a really good marriage. But we definitely have room for improvement. There are things that I struggle with that I just can’t seem to overcome and he has areas that he wrestles with as well. Just last night we had to work through a situation of hurt feelings and misunderstanding. After 26 years! Sheesh, you’d think we’d have this down by now.

27 years at any job looks good on a resumé. But we’re definitely not experts yet.

But I don’t think that either one of us would say that we haven’t strengthened our oneness after 27 years.

Many years ago when our kids were still little, we went through marriage counseling to20120722-083057.jpg try and get a handle on some nagging issues. I had fought it for a long time, pridefully thinking that we could fix it ourselves. When I finally let God through, I gave the gift of agreement to my husband. It did a lot of good.

We still read books and go through daily devotionals on marriage. We talk to each other. We bring up issues, though it’s not comfortable and sometimes isn’t well received. We know that if we don’t keep these things in front of us, our oneness will be affected.

We are going in the same direction. We communicate. We try to remember to think the best of each other. We are on the same team. (I wrote a series a few years ago on how tandem biking mirrors marriage. Find the first in that series here.)

It makes a huge difference.

Once you stop thinking of your spouse as your partner and teammate, and start seeing them as the enemy, then you will be on a downward spiral that will lead you away from oneness.

Isolation is the enemy of oneness.

Anger is the enemy of oneness.

Unforgiveness is the enemy of oneness.

1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

85670316F046I realize that some marriages have been extremely hard. Perhaps there has been abuse or infidelity or addiction. The marriage covenant was broken a long time ago. I’m not suggesting by any means that anyone stay with an abuser.

Truth is, God is a God of redemption and reconciliation. The Trinity is the perfect model of oneness.

The best time to ensure that oneness grows in marriage is in the beginning.

And then do all you can to keep it going.

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Tandem Living: It’s a Team Effort

tandem bike drawingOne day recently, my 14-year-old son and I were driving down the road when we saw a couple on a tandem bike ride by. Nathan said, “That’s the teamwork bicycle. If one person gets tired, the other can do more of the work. If the other person gets tired, the first person, freshly rested, can take over.”

I kid you not: those were his exact words. Deep observations. And completely accurate.

If I want a strenuous ride, especially here in flat Orlando, I go on my single bike. If I’m on a rest day, or just want to go on a shorter ride in the evening, we ride the tandem. Honestly, David can’t help it if he does more of the work. He’s stronger than I am. He just naturally pushes harder. Most of the time I don’t mind just coasting along, but if I know I need a tougher workout, I can’t really ride with him. He makes the ride easier.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Marriage is a 50/50 relationship. We each need to give equally to make it work”? Well, that’s either someone who has never been married, or someone whose spouse is not thriving in their relationship. Marriage is a 100/100 relationship. You have to be willing to give your all at any given moment, because your spouse might need you to. Not everyone can function at 100% efficiency all the time. We get sick. We get stressed. We just get plain old tired.

That’s where the teamwork comes in. If one falls down, the other can pick him up. Together, we are stronger. When David and I went to marriage counseling several years back, our counselor told David that he was not allowed to ask me what I did all day. If I needed to just sit and read a book, I needed to have the freedom to do that. If all I accomplished all day was getting out of bed, getting the kids off to school and maybe getting dinner on the table, that was good enough.

My husband is strong. He’s apparently tireless. He doesn’t like to just sit around. I’d be very happy sitting around the greater part of the day. But I’m not idle. I’m working on the computer or folding laundry or working on school tasks. But my jobs aren’t physical. So it can appear that he takes on the heavier load of responsibilities because he sheds the most sweat. If he were to look at me as a slacker, he could grow bitter.

Like on the tandem bike. We often get comments about how he’s doing all the work and I’m just along for the ride. It’s not true. If David stopped pedaling, we’d still have forward momentum, albeit a lot slower, because I am actually contributing to the ride. If David ever wanted to test that, he could simply take his feet off the pedals and see what happens. But he doesn’t choose to do that. He pedals and trusts that I’m pedaling too, even if my effort isn’t as great as his. I’m contributing what I can at that point of the ride. And if I want to work a little harder? The word, “upshift” tells David I’m ready to take on a little more.

Letting your spouse know you’re ready for an “upshift” in your marriage might just do you a world of good.

Next time: Even the best bikes need a tune up every now and then.

Tandem Living: People Are Watching Us

tandem bike drawingIt never fails: As we’re riding our tandem bike around town, people stare, smile and often comment. Kids especially. They’ve never seen such a thing. One boy exclaimed, “Cool! It’s like two bikes stuck together!” Even construction workers smile at us. There’s something about the retro feeling a tandem bike brings, but I think there’s also the aspect of togetherness that people think is cool. That’s the term we most often hear: Cool.

If, while we were riding along, we suddenly fell into a ditch, or started bickering about which way to go, or stopped altogether and decided not to go on, people would notice. I think what we were doing wouldn’t be seen as quite so cool anymore. Maybe people would decide that riding solo is much better.

We don’t ride our tandem bike to show off to other people. In fact, that has never once entered my mind. “Hey, let’s go take a ride on our tandem so that we can have people think we’re cool and they’ll smile at us and we’ll make them happy.” That would be ridiculous. We ride because we like to do things together, and because it’s fun, and because it’s good exercise.

We didn’t get married so that we could fit into any certain crowd, or get a bunch of gifts, or save on our living expenses. We got married because we love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives with each other, supporting each other, serving each other. We figured we could be better together than we were apart. But the fact is that people see us. If they know we’re followers of Jesus, they’re looking to see if that makes a difference. According to the statistics, it doesn’t make enough of a difference to most. We pray our marriage is different. We’re committed and we have a lot of help, but ultimately, we can’t make it without the grace and hand of God.

We like it when people comment to us when they see us riding our bike. We like to encourage people to give it a try themselves. We’re happy to help people learn how.

Same goes for marriage. We’d be very happy to mentor engaged or newly married couples. We haven’t really gotten a chance to yet, but we figure we might have some things to share after 22 years. Until that time comes, though, we can certainly do all we can to work on our own relationship and make sure we’re keeping away from the ditches. We know others are watching.

Next: Sometimes you have to weather the storms

Tandem Living: Have a Little Faith!

tandem bike drawingSo far in my tandem cycling and marriage series, we’ve seen how tandem cycling–and marriage–require that you go in the same direction and that you communicate. Today, I want to talk about a 3rd requirement: trust. I trust that my tandem partner is not going to lead me somewhere dangerous. I trust that he is going to tell me when there’s a hazard in the way. I trust that he’s going to get us where we want to go. And I trust that he knows what he’s doing, not only because he’s been riding for a long time, but because he has leaned upon the wisdom of others.

David is a big Googler. By that I mean that he likes to look things up using the Google search engine. He recently bought a motorcycle and has spent a lot of time on websites and forums seeing what other people are saying about his particular model. He also borrowed a DVD about riding safety from a neighbor who rides.

He has had occasion to Google things about cycling also. When he wants to buy a new bike, he will search online and weigh the merits of different brands. Because of his thoroughness, I trust that he knows what he’s talking about. If I question every decision he makes, our rides would be very unpleasant.

Trust and communication go hand in hand. I need to be kept in the loop. If he chooses to go a different way than we usually go to get somewhere we’ve been before, just the words, “I thought we could try a different route today,” go a long way to diffuse any concern I might have. Getting me involved in the decision works even better. The more we communicate, the greater the trust level is going to be.

The same holds true for marriage. If David doesn’t answer his phone, I need to trust it’s because he’s busy, not because he’s doing something he’s not supposed to be doing and doesn’t want me to know about it. If I go shopping, he needs to trust that I’m not spending money haphazardly and wastefully. He trusts me to be in charge of our budget. I trust him to lead our family in an upright and godly manner. He needs to know that I trust him to care about our well being. In order for him to know that, I need to tell him. In order for me to know that he trusts me, he needs to tell me.

I trust that David doesn’t wake up in the morning and think, “How can I annoy/bother/disrespect/hurt/whatever my wife/kids today?” When we jump on our tandem bike together, I trust that he’s not thinking, “What hazardous/arduous/sticky situation can I ride us into this time?”

Think the best, trust the other person, have a little faith. It goes a really long way in tandem cycling–and in marriage.

Next time: How people react when they see us riding our tandem–and enjoying a happy marriage

Tandem Living: Going in the Same Direction

tandem bike drawingIn 1994, my husband, David, and I made a trip to South Africa. He was going to show the JESUS film in villages along the Zambezi River, and I was going to interview some people and write up some reports on how the film was being used in the area. While we were there, staying with friends in Pretoria, we went shopping and came upon a tandem bicycle made by Peugeot. Doing the math, we decided we couldn’t pass up such a great deal on a tandem since we had enjoyed the riding experience on a friend’s bike before. So we bought it.

That was 19 years ago, and the bike is still going strong. It’s a behemoth, not like the light-weight models you can find today, but it has served us well. At one point, when our boys were little, we had one kid’s seat on the front and one kid’s seat on the back. We were the mini van of bicycles.

David grew up riding his bike alone. He was used to just getting up and going wherever he wanted, pretty much whenever he wanted. I grew up riding my bike also, but I rarely did it alone. What’s the fun in that? When we got married, we both willingly gave up our solo lifestyles to blend into a tandem life together.

Over the years, we’ve both learned a lot about what it takes to ride in tandem with someone, both on a bicycle and in married life. In the next several weeks, I’m going to focus my posts on how tandem bicycling mirrors marriage. You might be surprised by what I come up with.

My first observation is that, in order to ride a tandem bike, you must be going in the same direction. Now, that might seem obvious to you, but in marriage, some might think it’s OK to have two different paths. Before we started dating, David and I were both on the staff of Cru, a group of compassionate Christians desiring to connect people with God all over the world. He is an engineer, I am a writer. He’s good at math. I’m not. He’s an introvert, I’m an extrovert. We have a lot of differences. But we both were following Jesus wherever He would lead us, therefore, our paths easily converged. If I had wanted to make my way in the secular publishing world, and David was called to be a missionary with Cru, our direction would not have been the same. Even more striking, if I had been a follower of Jesus, and David had not, our paths would have been very different. Going in the same direction is vital.

There are still many times when we ride our single bikes, but our commitment is to tandem living. We can’t ride our tandem bike and go in different directions. If we’re not both pursuing Jesus, our marriage will falter. If we’re both not staying on the same road, we will crash. Head in the same direction, follow the same road, have the same objective. The riding is a lot smoother that way.

Next: Tandem Living–Communication is Key

tandem bike drawing from http://www.etsy.com