Iron Sharpens Iron
Proverbs tells us iron sharpens iron. If you’ve ever stood by the electric grinder as someone is sharpening a tool or simply grinding down a piece of metal, we’ve seen those showers of sparks flying everywhere. The trick is to not let any of them land on your skin or clothing or you could end up with some extra holes you hadn’t planned on.
One summer I was home from Tech working the night shift at Rockwell Valves where I ran an arc welder putting stems into valves and tacking them into place. After a few delays in getting my visor down on my helmet before the tungsten arc welder’s bright light almost blinded me, I headed off to the oil fields of Louisiana to try my luck at a less painful occupation.
Anyone living in close proximity to another human is likely to occasionally feel the heat from the sparks that can fly when two hard-surfaced individuals rub up against one another. Some folks fail to recognize the importance of not invading another’s personal space uninvited. Some folks are just more touchy than others. Some puppy dogs are just more touchy than others. Some puppy dogs just want to pounce on everyone and give em a sloppy lick.
Most of us wouldn’t do well living in isolation with no one to communicate with. Babies have been known to die in orphanages when rarely experiencing human touch. Most of us thrive from hugs and kisses from mommas, daddies, grands, great grands and any other source of genuine affection, including your favorite dog or cat. Like all good things sometimes we can reach our quota and need a little space.
Marriages are living, dying, breathing relationships that are subject to the same potholes and mud puddles that all relationships have to endure. It just seems like there’s a lot more of em when you’re tied to someone 24 hours a day, be it physically or emotionally. We all start off on that journey with the same sweet hopes and dreams. Sometimes it works; sometimes not. It doesn’t take long after the “I do’s” for friction to begin to occur as two immovable objects start to rub and grind on each other. During dating you either overlooked some quirks or idiosyncrasy your sweetie had or thought it would go away once you were hitched. Too late you learned it would only get worse and more annoying.
Welcome to reality. We’re all human and we’re gonna rub the cat’s fur the wrong way from time to time. Doesn’t matter who we marry, we’re all gonna have those times when you can just about drive each other crazy over something minor or major. We may still love em, but we don’t particularly like em right then.
There’s nothing like marriage. God designed it for our good but half the people that say “I do” sooner or later say “I don’t” a few years later. We can take our old baggage and dump it on somebody new’s doorstep, but without a personality makeover, the new partner will eventually see the real person and eventually say, “I’m outta here.”
Much like Kenny Rogers’ advice, “Know when to hold em and know when to fold em,” partners in a marriage have to frequently know when to fire and know when to keep the powder dry as they hold their horses. Partners sharpening one another and making each other better and stronger is a great objective for couples to shoot for. Like sausage making and politics, it ain’t always pretty but the final product is often worth it. They say no pain, no gain. Maybe so. Paul Simon sang, “I am a rock. A rock feels no pain.” Here’s hoping this next generation can hang in there and realize that some things are worth the pain for the gain.
By Dr. Juan Harrison