Betty and Joyce were enjoying a next-door neighbor chat while standing in Betty’s driveway. Both women wore light sweaters in the early spring morning chill.

“Betty, where’s Johnny? He never seems to be around…even on the weekends!” Betty’s best friend and neighbor, Joyce, tried to deliver her question without appearing to be a prying snoop. Betty paused, looked to the ground and quietly responded, “He has a mistress…a chrome mistress.” Betty was referring to an automobile, an antique, a head-turning, a look-at-me car Johnny bought several months ago. Nowadays, he spent more quality time with his car than with Betty.

Joyce took a moment to process what Betty said, and tried to offer some consolation. “Well, at least it’s not another woman. Now that would be real trouble.” Joyce had never experienced a relationship situation like this but looked to understand the pain she saw on Betty’s face.

“I wish it was another woman. I could compete for his attention with another woman. I can’t compete with a car.”

“That’s funny…how could you compete with a car?”

“No, it’s not funny. It’s like we’re not married anymore and it’s getting worse. I’m not sure what to do and it’s killing me inside.” Betty frowned with great sadness. Betty’s upset was increasing because Joyce seemed to be making light of her feelings. This was a serious problem and Joyce questioning her on it was bringing the pain to the surface.

“I know you guys dated in high school…you’ve been married for about 20-years now, right?”

“Twenty-one.” Saying no more, Betty nodded and headed back up the driveway to the house. Their conversation was over but before she walked off Betty stuffed an old photograph in Joyce’s hand. It was a dark, stiffened-by-age picture of Betty and Johnny on prom night decades earlier, smiling broadly clearly quite smitten with each other. Joyce slid the photograph neatly into her back pocket.

Under normal circumstances, Joyce would have been put off by someone so abruptly ending a conversation and walking off, but this time Joyce knew her friend was greatly saddened. Joyce stood in Betty’s driveway alone, deep in thought for several moments before heading back to her house next door.

*********************

The following afternoon, Joyce was filling a bird feeder in her yard when she saw Johnny pull into the driveway, open the garage door and prepare to wash his car. Johnny was completely focused on the car and didn’t notice of Joyce next door.

Joyce called out loudly, “You know, you’re going to have to let the hood cool before you can wash and wax it, right?” Joyce was looking for a way to start a conversation and knew this would work.

Johnny looked up, startled by a voice seemingly from nowhere addressing him. “Yeah, I know that. I’ll let it cool some before I start.”

Joyce walked over to Johnny and his car and asked, “Mind if I take a closer look? Shiny and smooth and pretty she is, for sure. Wow! I bet it takes a lot of work to keep it running right, how about it?”

“Nah, it’s not that bad. The key thing is to monitor it and fix things as you go. If you check it out regularly, just a little bit at a time, and it’ll run fine. Just a little regular maintenance is all it takes.” Johnny beamed with pride over his car, a perfect union of man and his machine…his chrome mistress.

“I see. Just a little regular maintenance. That seems like good advice for everything!” Joyce had was unsure where this conversation was going, but wanted to see where Johnny was emotionally.

“Yup, that works. That’s all it takes.”

At just that moment, a small bird sailed over the driveway toward the bird feeder in Joyce’s yard. While flying over Johnny’s car and with a splat, the bird left a dropping on Johnny’s windshield. Joyce stiffened in anticipation at what Johnny’s reaction might be.

“That’s no problem… I can just scrape that off and she’ll be good as new!” Johnny said looking back and forth quickly, wondering what he could use to clean his windshield.

“I might have something you can use for scraping the windshield.” Joyce reached into her back pocket where Johnny and Betty’s prom photograph was still located from the day before. She extended her hand, innocently offering the photograph to Johnny.

Johnny looked at the photograph, looked at Joyce, looked back at the photograph, and then looked back at Joyce again. He got it Joyce’s message.

Before walking off, Joyce echoed Johnny’s earlier comments, “The key thing is to monitor it and fix things as you go. If you check it out regularly, just a little bit at a time, and it’ll run fine. Just a little regular maintenance is all it takes.”

*********************

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.… so ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. (See Ephesians  5:25-28) Become “one flesh” with your spouse intellectually, emotionally, and physically. (See Genesis 2:24)

Let your spouse know they are “the one” and there will never be another. Ever. This includes automobile, motorcycle, boat, and other “chrome mistresses,” video games, hobbies, and whatever else the enemy throws your way. Bring balance to your relationship. Satan loves destroying marriages. Call on the Holy Spirit for guidance and protection for you, your spouse and your marriage.

Practical advice to follow:

  • A successful marriage is something a couple creates together.
  • In all things, be selflessly-devoted to your spouse. Submit to one another in true love and loyal dedication.
  • Selfless devotion within a marriage relationship gives rise to stability and continuity through hardships and life trials. As a couple you will face plenty of these.
  • Selfless devotion applies to both husband and wife to each other. It is tremendously comforting knowing someone looks to support you in all ways as their spouse.
  • Devotion to your spouse means forsaking all others. To “forsake” means to “abandon.” Your spouse is your number one concern.
  • You must be a beacon of integrity with your spouse…the one person above all others they trust…your entire marriage.
  • Spend quality time together. Be known as “the couple that does things together.” Feel the joy that comes from experiencing life together.

JG