By Rob Furlong
Everyone comes into a marriage carrying emotional and relational baggage.
A skit performed in a church in the United States illustrated this by showing the young couple taking their vows while having heavy burdens labelled guilt, insecurity and fear draped over their bodies. When it came time to "kiss the bride" they were unable to do so – "how can you hold someone when you are carrying so much baggage on your arms?"
What do we do with the baggage?
Pretend it's not there?
Hope that we lose it at the airport of life?
Expect our partner to carry it?!
Solomon gave some very helpful advice about how we might handle our baggage when he wrote:
"Two are better than one, *because they have a good return for their labour:
If either of them falls down,*one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls*and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.*But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,*two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
In the world in which Solomon lived, people would often travel at night but the journey was dangerous. There was the risk of violent robbery and, at night, falling into deep ditches carved out through the constant wear and tear of travellers and the weather upon the road.
Only if you travelled travel with someone could you be sure someone would immediately help you out.
It has been my experience in marriage that when I share my burdens – notice that I did not say dump my burdens – my wife Karen will listen to me, encourage me and pray for me.
And when this happens, I am incredibly aware of both the truth and the comfort of having a true friend beside me and who is able to lift me out of whatever emotional ditch I may have fallen into.
And of course, I do the same for Karen.
This is what true intimacy in marriage is all about.
It is the assurance that the person closest to you will listen to you when you are in trouble and not judge or reject you.
It is the confidence of knowing that there is someone traveling with you on the road of life and they will always be there for you.
Gordon MacDonald likens it to traveling through life in "the company of a happy few" – that as husband and wife you experience the joy and delight of not just being lovers, but true friends as well.
More poetically, Michael Card describes it this way:
Home is where someone is waiting and loving
And happy to see you again,
That half of your heart that somebody else treasures
The one who's your forever friend.
We all have baggage and we do bring it into our relationships.
Some of us are unaware of our baggage and for some of us, it may take a lifetime to be rid of it.
Which is why it is much better to share the load with someone else.
How sad it is to see couples who have been married for decades but have never come to the place of truly being able to help each other out of the ditches of life.
One more thing.
Solomon spoke of the "cord of three strands."
How much stronger is the couple that not only supports each other in tough times but also relies on God's everlasting and unfailing strength, grace and encouragement!•