By Gary Moore
When you observe some couples, you say, “They’ll never make it.” And looking at other couples, you say, “They’re going to make it. They’ll be great together.” What enables a marriage to hold together and thrive?
Let me answer this question by looking at two bunnies. As a kid I always liked getting a chocolate bunny at Easter. But you know, it didn’t take me too long to learn that there are really two different kind of chocolate bunnies you can get at Easter. They looked the same – they were both chocolate, but they were far different. One was hollow and one was solid. It was easy to crumble the hollow bunny, but I couldn’t even put a dent in the solid one.
Marriages are like those bunnies. On the outside they can look good and solid, and nobody can tell what they’re made of. But put pressure on them – and every marriage experiences pressure – and you’ll find out whether they’re really solid.
How marriages stand up is determined by what’s inside. The hollow ones will crack and crumble under pressure. But those that have been solidly built can take it. Squeeze them all you want, and they are unmoved, unshaken, unaltered, unharmed.
A solid marriage, like a solid bunny, weighs more, costs more, and withstands more. It’s got substance. It’s been “filled up” on the inside with wise principles, tested practices, good decisions, and painstaking discipline. The process of making it solid isn’t quick, cheap, or easy. But it’s worth it, because solid marriages last under pressure.
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus taught the same principle using a different metaphor. You’ll remember the story of the wise and foolish builders. The wise builder built his house on the rock and the foolish man built his house on the sand.
You could substitute the word marriage for house in that passage and it would reveal truth. The wise couple builds their marriage on the rock of Jesus’ words. And then when the storms and winds of life beat against that marriage, it does not fall. Why? Rock is solid. But couples who don’t build their marriages on something solid will fall with a great crash. They’re like hollow bunnies.
But notice something about the parable of the wise and foolish builders. The houses were the same. So were the storms. The difference was the foundation on which the two houses were built: one was on a solid foundation; the other was on an unstable foundation.
We often want to blame what’s falling apart in our lives on the strength of the storm. But in truth, everyone’s life experiences storms. Everyone’s marriage experiences challenges. Everyone has to deal with difficult finances. Everyone faces temptations that test their character. No one escapes intense trials and storms. Some crumble under the pressure while others stand strong because of what is inside.
I’ve read that it takes 75 percent more chocolate to make a bunny solid rather than hollow. It also takes 75 percent more effort to build a solid marriage and family instead of a hollow one. What does that mean? It means being much more intentional about investing in your marriage and living your principles consistently day after day.
Begin first with the nonnegotiables of faith. Not only is this the place to begin, but you will need this solid foundation on which to build your solid marriage house. Spend time with God daily – individually and as a couple. Worship God together weekly – as a couple and as a family. When you’re consumed with your own problems and ambitions all week, worshipping God reminds you of what’s really important. And, it helps us put Jesus back at the center of our lives if we’ve drifted off course in our thinking.
With a solid foundation, you can then begin constructing the various walls and rooms that make for a happy and successful relationship. This is going to take planning and intentionality. And, since no one teaches us how to do relationships, you may even need some outside help to get you started.
As you begin this process, together you will decide what you believe are important “walls” and “rooms” for your family house. In this process make sure you consider a couple of things. One is the fact that most relationships naturally drift apart, not together, if couples aren’t intentional about doing things together. To build a solid marriage and family, you will have to be very intentional about sharing your lives and staying close. And remember, no matter how you slice it, love is spelled t-i-m-e. And two, consider that pretending that something isn’t true doesn’t make it go away. Instead, it creates pretense, and that is destructive. Learn how to make your marriage a safe place where you can speak the truth in love.
How your marriage weathers life’s storms has little to do with the severity of the storms. What’s inside you will always determine whether your marriage falls apart or stands strong.
So, which bunny are you?
Gary Moore served as associate pastor at Cloverdale Church of God for 15 years. He does couples’ coaching and leads couples’ workshops and retreats called MUM’s the Word. He does a weekly radio program called Life Point Plus on KBXL 94.1FM at 8:45 a.m. on Fridays. Monday mornings at 10 a.m. he does live relationship teaching called MUM Live on his Facebook page Mutual Understanding Method. He may be contacted at [email protected].