Building Better Marriages

by Rob Furlong

Going light: ‘keeping score’ weighs down marriages

man with backpack

The Olympics are here again and the world will marvel at the exploits of superbly fit athletes competing against each other for gold and a place in history.

For Aussies, when we think of the Olympics, our minds go to the pool. But there will be a lot of excitement out on the velodrome where our cyclists will also battle for glory!

Over the last several years I have been something of an on again, off again bike rider myself.

I say on again, off again because I have not been able to maintain the kind of consistency with riding that I would like.

I have all the necessary equipment – an Avanti carbon framed bike, cleats and of course, the much maligned Lycra nicks!

I have morphed into that strangest of early 21st Century suburban creatures, the MAMIL ("Middle Aged Man in Lycra").

Yet despite all the gear I have not become the Cadel Evans of the back streets of my suburb.

Oh, and I also own a backpack.

I must say that I am rather proud of my backpack.

I have had it for about 7 to 8 years and in that time it has shared many a journey with me as well as assisting me in transporting a number of necessary items from A to B.

I have also become quite adept at what I can actually pack into it.

On a recent trip I managed to find room for a heavy bike chain, three highlighter pens, two standard pens for writing, a complete change of clothes and a pair of shoes (bike cleats won't cut it around the office!), a stoutly packed lunch box, at least one book, some writing paper and preparation notes for a sermon I was working on.

I was even able to squeeze in my wallet, watch and phone when I discovered I had left them out in the original packing!

We marvel at what a woman can put into her hand bag but people are in awe of what I can cram into a backpack!

It occurs to me that many people carry backpacks in their marriages.

I wrote recently about the baggage that we bring with us into our marriages and how important it is to deal with that.

What about the baggage we also accumulate after we are married and which we stuff into our backpack called "for future use, as needed?"

You know what I mean!

There was the time your wife smashed the car. Into the backpack it goes, ready to be pulled out at a moment's notice to remind her of her incompetence.

What about that time when your husband forgot to bring the washing in as you had asked him to?

In the middle of an argument, you reach into your backpack and draw out your deadly weapon: "You always let me down like this! Remember the time when you..."

On and on it goes, with our backpacks becoming heavier as the years pass, bulging at the seams.

We human beings can cram an awful lot into our emotional backpacks!

And we take great delight in dumping their contents on our husband or wife when we feel we need to emphasise a point.

One thing I have noticed about cyclists at the Olympics.

Regardless of what event they compete in, they don't carry backpacks! Olympic cyclists know that they must travel light to ensure maximum speed.

It's good advice for a marriage – travel as lightly as possible.

Carrying around your emotional backpack, waiting to dump it on your partner, only undermines your relationship.

Better to dump the whole backpack into the hands of God and let Him free you of its contents.

There, doesn't that feel better?

Backpacks might be good for MAMILs on suburban streets but they are lousy "accessories" for an Olympic cyclist...and a marriage.

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