Ryan and I spent a few days on Mackinac Island for our anniversary. We’ve been married 17 years now and wanted to celebrate. There is no destination more beautiful and relaxing than Mackinac Island. There are no automobiles there. Most people arrive by ferry boat and some fly in on small planes. Horses and bikes are the common forms of transportation. The island is full of hiking trails and natural beauty.
We spent the first afternoon hiking more than eight miles all the way around the perimeter of the island. The island is surrounded by Lake Huron, which makes for a beautiful view while hiking. Most people whizzed past us on bikes. One older couple on a tandem bike stopped just ahead of us to take a few photos. We’ve never been on a tandem bike together, but because I had previously mentioned my interest in renting a tandem bike with Ryan, we decided to ask this couple about their biking experience.
The husband, who had been in the front of the tandem, very quickly told us about riding their tandem bike. He told us the tandem bike would make a very good marriage counselor. He jokingly (well, kind of jokingly) exclaimed, “This is the first time in our entire marriage that I’ve ever been in control!” We all got a good laugh out of that. His wife laughed, too (thank God for that or it might have gotten awkward) and followed up his statement with, “I just decided after about 20 minutes on this thing that if we run into something, it’s his fault!” We also laughed at that. Seriously, though, this couple had been pretty honest with us despite their joking. One partner has to be in control and one has to trust his leadership.
The person on the front of the tandem bike controls the speed and direction of the bike. The person in the back must trust the front person for the good of the partnership. I suppose the back person could rebel and either refuse to pedal or drag his/her feet, but I don’t see that ending well for anyone.
Isn’t that a bit like the nature of marriage? I think it is.
Ryan and I decided to rent a tandem bike a couple days later, and we spent the entire afternoon on it. At first it was difficult to get the hang of it. We had to give each other a lot of grace as we learned. Ryan sat in front, and I sat in back. Ryan was the one who led the way. He was responsible for steering. On the back of the bike, I had a say in our direction but ultimately the choice was his as to where we headed. That is much like our marriage.
The first couple miles felt wobbly to me. It was tricky to balance on that thing. We had to work together in order for it to move forward smoothly. There was no way that Ryan could do one thing and me do the opposite. That would not have worked. We would have crashed. That is also like marriage. It takes awhile at first to figure it out and learn to work together. Same with that bike. Both parties need to work together and be heading in the same direction.
Once we had ridden a few miles, we had an absolute blast! We stopped several times to look at things, take pictures, eat lunch, and have fun. We talked and laughed nonstop while riding that bike. I pedaled hard and left the steering to him. He listened when I made recommendations about where to stop and what paths to take, and we worked together to navigate the island.
Doesn’t that sound like a lifetime of happy marriage? In our marriage, I have learned that only one of us can truly lead. Biblically, that is Ryan’s responsibility. He leads, and I help him get us to our destination. That doesn’t mean that I don’t give input or help him course-correct. I do. I did that day on the tandem, and I do every day in real life. However, God expects Ryan to lead our family and I want to do my part to make sure that’s the case. Our tandem bike experience would have been a disaster if I hadn’t trusted Ryan’s leadership, and it would have been a disaster if he had led us astray. Our family life is much the same. It doesn’t make me a doormat or a weak person. It doesn’t make him a dictator or a boss. Whether in marriage or on a tandem bike, there needs to be a partnership. Each person has a specific role, but neither is more important than the other. Both are necessary, and both are important. They are just different.
When I was on that bike, I knew I could trust Ryan because he had a vested interest in keeping us safe. If one of us crashed, we both would crash. I knew he would do everything in his power to make sure a crash did not happen. It is the same in our marriage. I know he would do everything in his power to make sure the kids and I are on the right path and safe. I trust Ryan in life and on that bike.
I don’t know what Ryan’s perspective was on that bike. He’s going to write a blog about his perspective soon. From where I sat, I saw Ryan in control while keeping us safe and having a great time. Together, we saw beautiful scenery and made it safely to all our destinations. We never crashed. He never let me down. The back of the bike was a great place to be. It takes a successful partnership in order to ride a tandem bike, and it takes the same in marriage. I’m happy to say we’ve had that for over 17 years now.
Have a great day!