A Model Marriage Is Like Model Railroading

Once a month on Friday nights I join ten to fifteen men for a guy’s night out. We gather at our friend John’s home. We are not bowling, playing poker or watching football though the later is often part of the conversation (after all, I live in Alabama the virtual home of the National Championship and the geographic center of the SEC). No, we are driving trains.

Birmingham Alabama was known at the Magic City at the turn of the 20th century. It has the three natural resource components necessary for the production of steel; ore, coke and limestone. These are all products that are moved best by rail. Hence there were nine railroads that converged on Birmingham complimented by local industrial lines used to move raw materials. All this makes for a model railroader’s paradise.

My Friday club is a new venture. Some of the systems (switches, location markings, etc) are fraught with glitches. Communications between the Dispatcher, the Yardmaster and the Engineers (that is all of us operating a train) is less than adequate. The result is long delays of deliveries of components from one facility to another. The mainline track gets blocked with trains waiting for other Engineers utilizing portions of the mainline track for shifting purposes. While this is an amiable group of men, you can sense the frustrations, irritations, and an edge in some voices at times. We all know this is big boy play time but there is a sense of urgency to get it right—expectations that the other guy will do his part efficiently.

There is another problem that also arises. It is equipment failure. On my first night of operations the fellow in front of me had a drive rod break (connects the driving wheels together[1]). It is needless to say, but his mechanical problem stalled him and me and every operator behind me.

Well, how is marriage like a model railroad? Most likely you already are getting the picture. Just as our model railroad necessitates our understanding of both the environment (the 1900’s topographical, geological and administrative structures) and the functionality of the system, so marriage requires an understanding of the environment (the context in which the relationship operates) and the God designed functionality of the union.

A couple embarking on a marital journey will do so in an environment. That environment may be city, town or country. It may be between two mature, one mature and one immature or two immature believers. It may be that they know little about the biblical structure or function of marriage. Whatever the case, marriage calls for continually growing, adjusting, communicating, exercising patience and loving your mate as your love yourself.

Our host on Friday nights begins each session reminding us of the basics of both the environment and the functionality of our model railroad. He finishes his mini-lecture with an exhortation to be patient, to be courteous and to enjoy the journey. Couples can benefit from those same exhortations while they learn the elements of their environment (external and internal) and explore God’s word to discover and conform to the functionality as God has designed it.

James Hill
Hoover, AL
March 3, 2013

Some further analogical thoughts:

You need a firm foundation as a platform for a model layout; so for a marriage.

You must lay track carefully; so for marriage a couple must work together to lay out their life plan together.

You must have a stable power source to drive your engines; so a couple needs to abide in Christ (John 15:1-3) for the stable power source of the Holy Spirit.

You must equip your cars with compatible couplers to insure minimum disconnects; in marriage a couple must be equipped with good communication skills to effect good connections.

You must maintain your equipment to insure minimum breakdowns; so couples need to attend to their relationship by regular dating, praying, laughing and copulating.

You must maintain good communication between the Dispatcher and the Engineer; so husbands must maintain good communication between the Dispatcher (God) and the Engineer (himself), and the Engineer (husband) and the crew (wife and family).

[1] [1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_steam_locomotive_components

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