Closing Relationship Gaps
The most succinct, profound marriage advice came in the form of a toast at our wedding reception. My friend Jessica stood up, wished us "two" children (everyone else had been wishing us kids in the 5-7 range!), and then made one quick statement:
"Make sure you always 'close the gaps' that creep into your relationship."
I like word pictures and that one landed with me because it made me think of a braided rope rug. Let me explain...I remember having this kind of unique, homemade braided rug in my room as a kid.
Even now, there's one in my daughter's room. These rugs are usually oval in shape and bear the unique hallmarks of being handmade; each one is slightly different from the others.
However, if you ever purchased one of these rugs, you soon discover the downside to their uniqueness. The rug is made of a series of braided ropes that are hand stitched to every other braid. With any amount of consistent use, these binding stitches start to loosen and fray. Before long, subtle gaps appear in the rug.
At first, you can ignore the gaps and easily straighten the rug to hide any imperfections when "company" comes to visit. However, if you wait too long to repair the gaps OR if your rug experiences some "unusual" stress (like the bounding energy of a yellow lab puppy or extensive use as a racetrack for a little brother), the damage becomes pretty serious.
So when I heard the toast to "close the gaps" in my marriage, I saw the rug progression. Ithought Jessica's words were true then, and now, almost 18 years later, I KNOW they are.
Gaps in a rope rug are one thing, but gaps and open issues in my marriage bring a completely different level of concern...as they should.
Here are a few key ways I see similarities between a rope rug and a marriage:
- Both are unique, beautiful creations made by hand.
- Both are subject to fatigue and fraying after a period of time.
- Eventual gaps in both are inevitable, and, in general, shouldn't be shocking to discover.
- Closing gaps requires deliberate, precise effort.
- Just because you can "fool the company" who sees the rug or marriage, doesn't mean that you should assume it's in good repair.
- Hiding gaps never heals them.
- Stress, worry, and complaints don't fix gaps, but they can pretty easily exacerbate the gaps that exist.
Fortunately, this concept and a commitment to closing gaps (in both the rug AND our marriage) has been foundational in our home. The challenge isn't understanding IF it's important to close gaps, but in finding practical ways to make that happen.
I'll bring you that post soon. Stay tuned...