I’ve always been fascinated with Everest.
I’ve read books, watched documentaries, and followed with intrigue the stories of brave men and women who have climbed to the top of the world. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get the chance (or have it in me) to summit Everest, but one of my life’s ambitions is to hike to Base Camp.
Just to be there and feel the energy of the place. To wait with excitement and anticipation as the weather window opens up and teams prepare to climb. To hear the hiss and crackle of radios as crews and family members listen with baited-breath to their loved ones thousands of feet above them. To celebrate with those lucky few who find success.
And in actual fact, the success of the climb is directly determined by the status of things at Base Camp. An average climber spends only 2 weeks climbing Everest, but at least 3 months at Base Camp preparing and acclimatizing. Without good ground support and adequate supplies, your climb will be doomed before you even start.
I think marriage is a bit like Base Camp.
What I mean is that every husband and wife has their own individual dreams and ambitions – their own mountains to climb and peaks to summit. And that’s important in a marriage. In fact, recent studies have shown that couples who have their own sense of purpose and passion outside of the home are more likely to be happy. BUT, in order for each person to achieve their summits, you’ve got to make sure things back at Base Camp are in order.
Some people think marriage stops you from achieving your dreams. That once you’re married, it’s all over. Give up your aspirations. Compromise your calling. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
Marriage doesn’t stop you from climbing your mountains, it enables you to! In a healthy marriage, your partner is your greatest fan, the one who encourages you to fulfill your dreams and who helps you to become the person you were made to be.
Of course, there are two extremes we tend to fall into here.
On the one hand I have seen marriages where couples spend all their time chasing after their own selfish ambitions, and not nearly enough time looking after things at home. We throw ourselves into work, chasing after our career ambitions at the expense of family. We find ultimate purpose and identity in “what we do” rather than “who we are” and lose ourselves seeking after false peaks. Base Camp falls into ruin, the relationship becomes disconnected and distant, and without that support, we find ourselves unable to complete any climb, let alone our “Everest”.
Stuck on the side of a mountain without any support.
On the other hand I have seen marriages where couples are so stuck in their comfort zones that they have made Base Camp the goal! Afraid to take risks, or under the false impression that “now that we are married we must do everything together”, individual dreams and goals are discarded, forgotten, or “put off”. A feeling of resentment and boredom creeps into the marriage and eventually we start to take it out on each other. We feel as if something has been stolen from us, and we forget that marriage was never meant to be the end target, but rather the launching platform. Of course, there is always a tension and a balance. And practically, in order to do a 2 week climb, we still need 3 months at Base Camp.