There is an African proverb that says “Two men cannot own for one goat” Meaning, that when two people try to solve one problem, they will often work at cross purposes; they will never know how the other is holding up their part of the bargain. If one thinks that the other has forgotten to feed the goat, and feeds it, (and the other thinks the same…) it will grow fat. And fat goats make mighty good eating. So maybe they have an arrangement that only one will do all the work for the goat, and the other does nothing. The thing that happens is the one doing all the work begins to resent it, and the other begins to feel entitled, thinking “I am above that work, and the one who does it,” and so, slowly, that resentment poisons the goat, not with actual poison, but with resentment. I guess the other thing that can happen is that both assume the other is feeding the goat, and … I guess no matter how you look at it is isn’t good for the goat. “Two men cannot care for one goat” or “two people can not care for one goat.”
I guess in America, we would say, “Two people cannot care for one plant” for the same reason. It will either dry up and die … or drown because they are never sure who is holding up their part of the bargain.
But a marriage is not a goat, or a plant. It is something that you are beginning here today, something that has never existed before, and has the possibility of lasting into eternity and if properly cared for, by both parties, it will live forever.
My friend and spiritual mentor, Jim Cloninger, called it the 60:40 rule. Now, coming into this room today, you might think that the secret to a happy marriage is to keep everything at 50%. You both do your part. You are both middle children in your birth order, so I know that fairness is very important to you both, and so keeping everything at 50:50 might seem like a good idea, but when you both are putting in 50%, it means no one is investing anything into the marriage… there is no extra.
The 60:40 rule means that each of you give 60% to the marriage, and expect the other to put in 40%.
- Ryosuke puts in 60 percent of the work of sustaining the marriage and expects Grace to help 40 percent of the time.
- Grace you put in 60 percent of the work of sustaining your marriage and expect Ryosuke to come up with 40 percent of the work.
Following the 60:40 rule, you don’t meet in the middle and point at the other and say ‘…it’s your turn.’ Instead, you intersect and overlap, because you’re each giving extra, and that extra you can bank, and it will feed and care for this new thing you are bringing into the world today: The marriage of Ryosuke and Grace.
So this marriage will be a life long journey. And as you journey together, be guided by this African Proverb: If you want to travel FAST, go alone. But if you want to travel far, go together.
But as life starts to get more complex, you might tend toward doing things more efficiently with the highest goal being achieving the greatest efficiency. You may believe you are being more effective by being more efficient, but effectiveness is not measured in efficiency. Efficiency must always serve a higher goal, and when efficiency or its twin sister perfection are the goal, it is akin to traveling fast, and traveling alone.
Today you are covenanting to travel far. And to do that you must travel together. And let that be the highest goal. Make the journey together be what you both seek. And when you seek the journey together… you will travel far.
- Two men cannot own one goat: so use the 60:40 Rule
- If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.
And so the third proverb, isn’t African, but is from Texas, and comes from Lady Bird Johnson.
First is to let her think she’s having her own way. Second is to let her have it. – Lady Bird Johnson
Which I don’t think will be a problem for you both, and so let me add this to it:
First is to let HIM think he is getting his own way. Second is to let HIM have it.
Grace & Ryosuke choose scriptures that apply to who they are becoming in this journey they are on. The first tells the story two cultures coming together, and how the daughter Ruth accepts the God of the Israel as her God and the Israelite people as her family. She tells Naomi, her Israelite mother in law, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried with you. May the Lord deal with me, if anything but death separates you and me.”
Grace and Ryosuke liked this scripture because it tells their story, as we have met and learned to love and accept Ryosuke as our son, and as Ryosuke’s family has loved and accepted Grace as their daughter. In fact, I know both families think they are getting the better half of the deal, and I am sure they are.
So wherever either of you goes, go together and travel far.
Wherever you live, live well and follow the 60:40 Rule.
Let each other think they are having their own way, and then actually let them have it.
Grace – his family is your family, Ryosuke – you are part of our family.
Dear Heavenly Father-
We ask Your blessings on this couple. May they have joy, peace, and love in their home. May they laugh with one another as they enjoy life together. Give them wisdom and grace in hard times. In all things help them to know that You walk with them. We ask all these things in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.