A story of rock climbing and safety in marriage
Let’s talk about rock climbing. I’ve never been a professional rock climber, but some of the concepts appear to be no brainers.
If you are climbing the face of a sharp cliff and you don’t want to die, and you want it to be a positive experience, one of the wisest things you can do is sling a rope around a very solid and stable rock at the top of the cliff and then make sure that rope is carefully tied to you as an individual.
If we’re going to climb the cliff by ourselves as an individual, then it keeps things simple, because we just tie that rope to the top of the cliff. In spiritual terms let’s just call the rock at the top of the cliff “God”, okay?
We have some ceremonies in our culture that encourage us to remember to stay tied to God. “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me” meaning don’t have your ropes tied to a bunch of other things or people. If you do use a short term anchor of some form, make sure it’s not more solid than your anchor to God.
Let’s say you decide to rock climb with another person, just for fun, let’s climb life with somebody. And you decide together that one of you is going to be the lead climber. “I’m a man, I’ll be the lead climber.” “Go ahead, you be the lead climber. I don’t need the ego boost of being the first one to get to the top of the hill, and if you want to work a few things out along the way that would be wise.”
And he says “you don’t need to have a rope tied to the top of the cliff, just tie one to me. Just cleave unto me and we’ll have a great climb.”
Of course you would think “I’m not stupid, I am not going to have my rope tied to a human climber because that could get us all killed!” Not only is that dangerous for you, it’s also dangerous for him.
In what way would it be dangerous for him to only have one rope only tied to him?
If you slip and fall and have a bad day, what’s that going to do to his grip on the side of the cliff?
So if we really were conscientious about getting to the top of that cliff safely, both climbers would have a rope tied to the top of the cliff. Both climbers would have their primary rope connected to God.
Tying back into the scripture, cleaving unto your spouse does NOT mean disconnecting from God.
When should the rope between husband and wife be tight? When should the rope be loose?
In a situation where they are in a position to be helpful or uplifting; when one of them is so secure and tight that they can pull up and lift, that would be a good time for the rope to be tight. But if one of them is starting to lose their grip on the side of the cliff, either a wife because she’s exhausted, because she’s burned out, because she’s overwhelmed, then it’s probably not a good idea for him to rely on her.
If he’s any of those things, or he’s off track, or if he’s scary in his movements, then it would be wise for the other climbing partner to keep the rope loose there.
So, cleaving unto spouse also means be close and pull softly, not yank, pull in a way where you can be of help.
Unfortunately, many people in marriage these days are under the impression that the purpose of marriage is to get help and pull on the other person. “I feel unstable so I’m pulling on you.”
A very sad and common mentality is “when we started this rock climb I was planning on you meeting my needs, you doing things that kept me stable, you doing things that kept me well cared for.”
If you neglect your relationship with God in order to work on your relationship with your spouse, that’s extremely dangerous also.
Written by Maurice W. Harker, CMHC, Director of Life Changing Services, Director of Sons of Helaman and creator of Men of Moroni, Facilitator of the WORTH group, Consultant for the Daughters of Light program