The Tapestry of Marriage
Word pictures can be helpful tools when thinking about life and marriage. My attention was recently drawn to a woven bookmark that I purchased in Turkey. It led me to think about how marriage resembles a tapestry. When a man and woman enter the marriage relationship, they form a new entity, meshing their lives into one and beginning (if you will) a tapestry of life together.
Tapestries have a design and are worked according to that pattern.
In marriage, most couples have a dream plan of what they want life to look like, and choices of what to do are based on that design. Your dream might include a satisfying relationship with each other, children and grandchildren, a house, money, travel, further education, meaningful occupation or ministry, and a myriad of other items on some form of “bucket list.” But the design isn’t only influenced by what you want or choose. God has a way of intervening and changing hearts or plans to suit His purposes. And there are plenty of life circumstances outside of your control. Health struggles may limit what you can do, accidents and natural disasters may strike, and choices made by others can cause suffering and consequences that aren’t planned or desired. You need a design you can both agree upon, but must also remain flexible and adapt your pattern as needed.
Keeping the big design in mind gives perspective to each part of the tapestry.
The weaver can’t think only in terms of single threads or areas of color, but must always remember that each part is integral to the whole. Life without a plan feels useless, out of control, and wasted. But if you realize that the sacrifices you’re making and the hard work you’re doing is part of a larger life plan, it becomes meaningful and worthwhile. There are no insignificant parts or wasted threads in a tapestry. In your life and marriage, always pay attention as to how God is at work, even in the difficult seasons. Talk about your hopes, dreams, fears, doubts, and limitations. Learn all you can about yourself and each other. Embrace opportunities to develop new skills and stretch yourselves. Meet people and build relationships. Discipline yourselves to economize, sacrifice, and serve. Find value in every experience, especially when it’s hard to find.
Tapestry weaving requires faithfulness and perseverance.
Those who work on tapestries repeat the same actions over and over again. Sometimes they must use the same color for extended areas, and other times they skillfully weave in different colors and textures. It must be done one thread at a time from the backside. At times the task seems endless, and the view isn’t rewarding to look at. Most of the time life isn’t exciting, but routine. It might include job, classes, ministries, housekeeping, or parenting. You need a clear understanding of what is expected of you, and then you need the character to follow through and faithfully fulfill your responsibilities day after day. Be diligent to work with a cheerful heart and spirit, “as unto the Lord” and show yourselves worthy of one another’s trust and respect. Don’t be discouraged or give up on the process, no matter how laborious it may seem.
Working together makes weaving easier and more enjoyable.
It’s common to see weavers sitting side by side as they work on projects. They can assist one another with difficult areas of the tapestry and provide companionship and conversation. One of the best things about marriage is that you’re not alone in life – there’s always someone there to love, encourage, and help you. Your spouse can see things you can’t, correct your mistakes, value your efforts, and make life’s challenges easier to bear. It’s great to have someone to assist you at keeping life in balance or to recognize when there’s a problem. Loving spouses help each other find nourishing activities that are fun and rewarding, and give each other permission to take a break sometimes. Be grateful you have a partner working alongside of you and treasure each other.
I find that my bookmark has lessons to teach me. Someone has put a lot of effort and creativity into the making of it, but from the backside no pattern is obvious, colors seem haphazard, threads cross over one another and knots abound. It’s only when the work is finished and I turn it over that the beautiful design is revealed.
Rolane has been married 43 years to her husband, Mick, and has served alongside of him in ministry throughout their life together. She was a pastor’s wife for many years, and for the last 25 years has worked as the associate director of Talbot Support Ministries. She and Mick work with Talbot students and maintain contact with many of them after graduation to serve as mentors as they transition into ministry life. Rolane has enjoyed co-teaching a class on family life in ministry, teaching and helping in leadership at Talbot Wives Fellowship, leading seminars for alumni wives, and encouraging those in ministry. She and Mick have 2 daughters and sons in law, and 5 grandchildren.