A comment made in a TV interview by NFL player Benjamin Watson grabbed my attention. As he and the news anchor bantered about the controversial players who get all the media attention, Mr. Watson remarked, "there are many players who are doing great things in their communities everyday but they go unnoticed because people, by nature, are drawn to either a circus or a crisis and those are the moments everyone focuses on." Considering his point, I concluded that it's really the guys "in the middle" who are creating a remarkable life and the same could be said about marriage.
Everyone loves a circus. It comes to town once a year as a highlight. Circus moments in marriage are those memory makers like birthdays, anniversaries, vacations and celebrations. They are the special occasions we keep tucked away in our heart and reminisce about years later. On the other hand, we also experience crisis moments too - the call from the doctor's office delivering bad news, the job loss and financial difficulties. No one is exempt from the seasons when we can't seem to catch a break and the fog of disappointment is so thick we fear we'll never see the sun shine on us again.
But the circus and crisis moments only make up the margins of marriage. They are defining, not forming, times. The substance of a strong marriage is made in the middle - in the crucible of the daily grind The moments that go unnoticed and seem insignificant but, over time, pour a solid foundation under our feet.
They are shared moments in car rides, taking kids to the park and splitting one bucket of popcorn at the movies. From picking out a new puppy to a paint color and shopping for a new shirt.
The middle is about planning your schedule around another person - on Fridays we do this and Saturdays we do that...it's what works for us. It's sleeping in the same bed where you start out spooning then separate because of snoring only to later slide your foot across the sheet just to feel their warmth.
It's in the "I'm sorry for being rude because I had a rough day" to "I'm looking forward to tonight" moments It's summer mornings sipping coffee on the front porch that give way to decorating the Christmas tree.
It's in the late night runs for fries and flu medicine and watching a movie the other wants to see.
It's inside jokes and sharing secrets at 2 am and acting silly when no one is around.
It's in the pet peeves, stupid fights and kitchen table game nights.
It's in the mowing the grass and taking out trash.
It's in bedtime prayers, morning routines and everything else in between.
Eventually the circus leaves town, and like a stormy sea, the crisis settles down. It's then we are able to see the middle isn't so mundane after all...but actually a really solid place to be.
"So try to walk a middle course - but those who fear God will succeed either way." Ecclesiastes 7:18