No matter how many times I see Jame Cameron’s movie “Titanic,” I am always uneasy each time I watch that ship slowly submerge, violently break apart, and then disappear to the dark depths. The fear, the panic, the finality…with each viewing, it’s unnerving.
Not long ago, I counseled 6 people who were either divorcing or headed towards divorce. And this was over the course of just two days! It was like watching the Titanic sink over and over again as I watched these marriages slowly submerge, violently break apart, and begin to disappear into the dark depths.
I’m not trying to be melodramatic here, but each time a marriage ends in divorce it’s a tragedy of Titanic proportion. And the similarities are unsettling.
The Titanic was believed to be different than any other ship because it was reported to be unsinkable.
In every premarital counseling session I’ve ever done, as well as every wedding ceremony I’ve ever officiated, the couple before me believes they are different from other couples. They are convinced in their heart of hearts that their relationship is different and impervious to sinking.
But every marriage will encounter “icebergs” that will threaten even the thickest of marital hulls. And assuming that your marriage is exempt puts you even more at risk.
NOT TAKING PROPER PRECAUTIONS.
The company that designed and owned the Titanic was so sure of its superiority that they failed to take proper precautions. For example, they cut back on the number of lifeboats needed, and when they were in dangerous waters, they were over-confident, increasing their speed and dropping their guard.
Too many married couples are too sure of themselves. They are over-confident in that they fail to bring enough people into their lives who could serve as lifeboats in times of need. And they are so busy that they fail to slow down when they’re in difficult and dangerous waters. They just assume they can power through.
A LAST MINUTE PANIC AND SCRAMBLE.
When the Titanic hit the iceberg, they were unprepared and ill-equipped. They fell into an every-man-for-himself panic. They even ignored innocent lives by not filling the lifeboats to the capacity to save as many as they could.
The icebergs that threaten a marriage are many: financial icebergs, infidelity icebergs, relational icebergs, parenting icebergs, as well as others. Too many couples are unprepared and ill-equipped for the icebergs. So when they strike one, they fall into panicking, scrambling, blaming, and an every-man/woman-for-themselves mentality.
There are two images from Cameron’s “Titanic” that haunt me. The first is when the camera seamlessly morphs from Titanic’s polished decks gleaming in the sunlight to its ghostly, rusted wreckage strewn across the bottom of the dark ocean floor. And the second image that haunts me is the image of all the victims strewn across the surface of the Atlantic.
The results of divorce are similar. What once was a polished and shiny new marriage morphs into unsalvageable wreckage. And those who were once joyful passengers on this marriage voyage became victims of the tragedy.
Let me say this…I’m not trying to depress anyone, nor am I trying to heap guilt upon anyone who has been through a divorce. If this post has done either of those things, I sincerely apologize. Maybe it’s me processing a tough week of sinking marriages and sad wreckage.
But almost always, divorce – like the sinking of the Titanic – is a preventable tragedy. Yes, there are a percentage of marriages where abuses, abandonment, and adultery may doom a marriage to divorce…even if one spouse doesn’t want it. But those percentages are small in comparison to the overall divorce rate.
SO, WHAT CAN WE DO?
Just as shipbuilders and captains learned from the sinking of the Titanic, we need to learn from the marriages that are sinking around us.
- Don’t be arrogant or over-confident. No matter how strongly you love one another…no matter how long you’ve been married…divorce can happen to you. There are many “icebergs” out there that can and will threaten your marriage. Assuming that your marriage will be exempt puts you even more at risk. Be in love, but be realistic.
- Take proper precautions. When you know there are “icebergs” out there that will threaten your marriage, then take precautions ahead of time.
- Establish regular date nights for just you and your spouse, and fiercely protect them.
- Create a financial plan that will secure your present and your future.
- Give as much attention to romance and sex as you do to paying bills and raising kids.
- Fix any problems you may have in communication and conflict resolution.
- Make sure your expectations are realistic.
- Don’t panic and scramble. If your marriage hits an “iceberg,” don’t panic and scramble. As a couple, turn to the lifeboats that are available to you: parents, friends, counselors, pastors, your church, etc. And don’t forget the other potential casualties around you. As a couple, gather up and protect the kids, family, and friends involved and keep them as safe as possible.
TO SUM IT UP…
I don’t mean to be all gloom and doom. Nor am I trying to scare you. But I want your marriage to safely navigate the sometimes difficult waters of life so that the two of you arrive at your destination together and intact.
So let me sum things up this way: Love each other like it was your last day together, and then your days together will last.