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  • Dr. Rebecca A. Thomas

Marriage: Railroad Tracks, Ladders, and Triangles

I think that most couples' marriages look like one of these three forms: railroad tracks, a ladder, or a triangle. As I hear couples talk about their marriages, I often get one of these images in my mind. As you might assume, they look at me quite quizzically when I blurt out something like: "So you believe your marriage should look like a ladder!" 

But think about it.. ... in the Railroad Track marriage, the husband and wife each take their rail and move through life. Never the twain shall meet. Oh, they appear to be working together to take the train down the track, but they never come together. These are the couples whose family life is too busy to have a meal together, to relax and enjoy one another, to really do anything together except get as many things checked of their lists as possible: clothes to the cleaners--check; kids to soccer--check; groceries bought--check. You do this, and I'll do that­we'll get more accomplished that way. But when do we do things together? There's no time for that-there's church and Bible study groups and youth groups and ..... We go to church together, right? Oh, wait, actually we all split up and go our separate ways at church, too!! 

Then there's the Ladder marriage. This marriage is popular among conservative and evangelical Christian couples. There is a hierarchy of importance in the family. God is on the top rung, followed by Dad, then Mom, and then ... well you get the idea. This sounds pretty good-everyone has a place and all things are in order. However, this structure usually leads to the unfortunate setup of a hierarchy of importance, as well. So while the Railroad Marriage has the couple running in the same direction without ever meeting, the Ladder Marriage has everybody lined up in order-top to bottom. About "bottom"-you never see anybody's face when you're standing on a ladder--other unsavory body parts maybe-but there is no face to face relationship. Not even with God, because someone is always between you and God-unless you're Dad, I guess. In the ladder analogy, though, even Dad is not in direct relationship with God. 

My Bible says that there is but one God and one Mediator between God and mankind-that is Jesus. So, that's what I think works- the Triangle Marriage. Yes, the stability of the Triangle. God is above us and at the apex with the man and woman at the bottom angles. Think about it-there is a direct line to God for both husband and wife as well as a direct, solid line between them as they stand facing one another and look up together toward the Father. Now THA T''S relationship, connection, and stability! In this analogy, as the individuals grow closer to the Lord, they move toward that apex, thus drawing closer to each other, as well. 

So what kind of marriage do you want to have? After over 35 years of marriage and after counseling many couples, I'm convinced that the Triangle wins hands down. A cord of three is not quickly broken (Ecc 4:12b, NIV). As children move in and launch out of this boundaried, secure triangle, it is the three that remain ­God,

Man & Woman 


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