The Marriage Boat, Pt 1

I was sitting recently with a client who shared with me his unhappy experience and failure with baseball as a young boy. Although he was the coach of the team, the boy’s father never practiced with him… at all. No pitching and catching in the back yard. No trips to the park to practice hitting. Nothing.

Any reasonable person would say, “Well no wonder the little fella wasn’t any good. He had no instruction, no practice, no training.” Common sense tells us that something as simple as a child’s success at baseball is likely to meet with failure if he gets no help in developing the skills of the game.


Yet somehow, and I never cease to be amazed by this, we assume that something as complex and organic as marriage should come naturally. Huh-uh.

Not unless, just like a little boy in baseball, you happen to be a prodigy… and there are few of those.

Another fact compounds the problem. In a recent continuing ed course I was taking, the presenter commented that most troubled marriages go SIX YEARS before the couple decides (or reluctantly agrees) to seek professional help. Very often by that time, it’s too late.


Which brings us to our first marriage boat couple – the couple which has No Clue.

I mentioned in the previous post that there were three categories of marriage boats: Dangerous, Doomed, and Desired. No Clue is the first boat within the category of Dangerous.



Marriage, Marriage Growth, Marriage Problems, Marriage Harmony



Let me come back to where I began this post and say this. The challenge for this couple is not the fact that one or both of them have no clue.

Perhaps like our young baseball player, they had no example to follow. They had no way to “practice” by observing a healthy example between their own mother and father. Perhaps like so many, they grew up in a single-parent home and therefore were not even afforded a working model of marriage to observe, let alone learn from.

Yet society, and perhaps even they themselves, expects them to just somehow know how to build a successful marriage.


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NO CLUE is the first marriage boat in the “Dangerous Waters” category.








So what is the problem? There are several contributors.

For one, a problem arises from the fact that the couple feel compelled to act like they know what they’re doing. Often the culprit behind this is nothing more than simple pride. In such a situation you can have either your pride or a successful marriage… but likely not both.


Another cause of the problem is what I lightheartedly refer to as “Too much Beatles.”

The final track on the Beatles album Magical Mystery Tour is the well-known All You Need Is Love. And many young adults go into marriage believing this is true. It’s a warm sentiment, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

It wasn’t even true for the Beatles, for that fact! Consider this:

  • The album on which this song appears was their 14th
  • By the time of this album (and song) they had worked together at their craft for 16 years
  • They spent more than two years in Hamburg, Germany, working their butts off in near obscurity to perfect their craft
  • They had, by the time of the album, spent more than a decade-and-a-half honing their musicianship, songwriting skills, and performance value
  • They recorded the song on the best instruments, in the best recording studio, with the best audio equipment available, and arguably the world’s best music producer



If you are a young couple reading this… or ½ of that couple… I urge you not to believe this often embraced fallacy. Love will not be enough to build a great marriage. You need skills, you need knowledge, you need tools as well!

Love is essential, of course. But if that’s all you have (and if it is, you probably won’t have that for long) – you will have great difficulty building a terrific marriage.


If an honest appraisal of your situation reveals the fact that one (or both) of you just does not have a clue about building a fruitful marriage, then take the necessary steps required to rectify this.

  • There are terrific books out there that can help you
  • Talk to your pastor if you have one, or some other trusted advisor
  • Seek out a maritally-successful older couple to mentor you (a great but almost never utilized resource)
  • Get professional help from a marriage counselor/therapist


And lastly I would say, cut yourself some slack for where you are. Take the emotion out of the issue by considering this: if you had a poor or no example, no background instruction or training or assistance, no other exposure to a healthy marriage… just why should you expect yourselves to be great at it? That’s not reasonable.

But having said that – be unwilling to stay there. Resources are everywhere. There are plenty of reasons for having no clue. There are none for staying in that condition.


Dr Michael Ruth, Growth Resources, Personal Growth