My mom is a very wise woman. Don’t get me wrong, she has her faults. But as I’ve grown I’ve come to realize how much wisdom she has gained over the course of her life. I’d be foolish not to at least listen to her, even if I don’t completely agree.
A family friend we knew was having marriage problems, so much so that we were all wondering if they would give up and divorce. Today they are still together and seem very happy again. The woman recently told me that something my mom said brought them both back to a place of reconciliation.
I want to share with you what my mom said, as I think it is so true and applicable to nearly any relationship. She said “your marriage is like a bucket of white sand when you get married. It’s clean and beautiful, and everything is new and unblemished. But sometimes, bad things happen that are like throwing a handful of black sand in the bucket. Sin creeps into your marriage and when you look at that bucket of sand which used to be white and pretty, all you can see is that handful of black which has turned your white sand grey”.
Isn’t that just so true? So often we focus on what has gone wrong rather than what has gone right. We look at our spouse and see everything they do to disappoint, rather than all the things they do to please. We don’t see years of happy memories but rather focus on the last bad year or two.
But my mom’s story continues: “There is no getting rid of that black sand. It will always be there. You might try to pick it out but it is now part of the sand in the bucket and nearly impossible to separate.” Yes you work on issues within your marriage, but many give up when they see that no matter what they do, they can’t separate and forget every black ugly thing from their marriage and be left with only the good stuff.
“You will never get rid of the black sand. It will always be there. But the best and only way to get rid of it is to make more white sand. The more white sand you make, the more insignificant the black sand will become, until it is barely noticeable”.
When we focus on bad things which happen in our marriages, it becomes easy to give up. But if we accept that the black sand is there, it is never going away (although you should always address these issues with your spouse and not ignore them), we can focus ahead. We can focus on making more pristine white sand together. Then over time the color of the sand in the bucket will fade from darker grey to lighter grey, to white again.
There are always going to be issues in marriage. There are always going to be things that need to addressed. And I encourage everyone to address the issues in their marriage and not ignore them. But when you get so hung up on the bad in your marriage (black sand) that you forget about making good memories together (white sand), you will never bring your marriage back to the place you’d wish it to be.