Recently, my child came home with basic geometry homework. It covered simple concepts, shapes, lines, and angles. As I monitored his progress, he came to a question that asked him to draw parallel lines. He put pencil to paper, and freehanded two supposedly parallel lines. Pleased with his results, he moved on to the next question.
I asked him to look again at the lines stating that they did not meet the definition of parallel lines. In order to demonstrate, I extended his lines in either direction. In one direction, they soon crossed and then started to move further apart. In the other direction, the lines did not cross at all. They just drifted further and further apart.
I asked my son, what would happen to a train if the rails where just freehanded. What if the rails were not truly parallel? I was glad to see my tax dollars were paying off because he said the train would fall off the track. He continued to tell of destruction, carnage, mayhem, and mass evacuations from leaky tanks too! Nevertheless, he got the point.
Seizing the moment, I explained to him that the train needs a firm base and ties to ensure that the train can get to its destination. I then realized I am no longer talking of trains and parallel lines. What I am doing here is working through my recent divorce.
I do not want to be alarmist or Pollyannaish. What I do want is to remind people that it is easy to freehand a relationship but that can lead to diverging lines. A firm base and strong ties are needed for the marriage train to stay on the rails. Children do not create either.
Do not get me wrong, children can help bind people together but this bond is not the kind needed for children grow, make their own ties, form their own lines, and move on to destinations of their own. In addition, in some instances, children can weaken the ties between the parental rails, as the kids become the focus of life. Life takes over. Kids are shuttled from place to place, homework needs be done, work deadlines loom, and bills need to be paid. Soon the relationship is running on inertia on tracks that have not been maintained.
In my personal case, it would seem that 13 years and four kids would be enough to keep two people together. It did for a while but there was not enough maintenance of the track during those times. We ran on rails that were not parallel. The base was crumbling, the ties were not maintained, and we knew it. Nevertheless, the line was neglected for too long causing the train to run off the tracks. Like a real train, a relationship can run for some time in a wrecked form before coming to a stop. This was the last years of the marriage.
It is fine, actually beneficial, for couples to have different areas of interest. This can add depth to a relationship. It allows time apart enjoying activities that the other partner may not enjoy. It can introduce topics to talk about and share in daily life. However, this can also lead to diverging lines if the ties and base are not maintained.
Check your base often. Look for ties to keep you from diverging. Just a friendly reminder from a fellow engineer.
Article image By: Glenn Pebley
This article originally appeared in the January 2008 Daddyshome Newsletter available at dcmetrodads.com.