• Ryan Dunlap

A Thin Line Between Love And Break-(Ups)

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

We are on a journey to the end of our lives together, but we are individually connected to our life lines.

Interracial married couple zip-lining in Oahu, Hawaii.
Oahu, Hawaii - Summer 2018

This past summer, I surprised my wife with a trip to Hawaii. It had been 11 years since we last had a vacation together without the kids, so this trip was long overdue. That's us in that picture above, zipping through the mountains of Oahu, loving every second of it!


We packed the kids up and put them on a plane to their grandparent's house in Kansas, gave each other a high five as they walked down the gangway and danced out of the airport all giggles and grins. We were a little more than excited about the opportunity to disconnect from the responsibilities of parenthood, the obligations of work and the needs of other people.


We flew out to Hawaii a few days later and made sure to spend some time doing things we'd never done before. Alicia is a foodie, so of course we took time to eat copious amounts of new food. As it turns out, we really like Poké bowls! We also hiked a dormant volcano, swam in Shark's Cove, went parasailing and even waded with sea turtles. For me, our most enjoyable excursion was our trip to the North Shore where we spent several hours zip-lining through mountain farms.


Interracial married couple zipping in Oahu Hawaii

Now this was our first time ever zip-lining, but we honestly had no issues jumping right into it. I think that the main reason we had no issues and felt comfortable from the start is that we were adequately prepared for what we were jumping into, before we jumped into it.


Before we were allowed to zip, we were required to do several things. We first had to attend a safety briefing with our tour guides and sign some disclosures and liability forms. We then learned how to secure our climbing harnesses, how to fasten our carabiners and belay devices to the main line, how to exit the platform safely and how to posture ourselves while zipping the line to avoid going too fast or too slow. Even after we were able to demonstrate our understanding of these concepts, our guides took the time to re-familiarize us with these procedures every time we landed at a new platform. By the time we reached the end of the final platform, we felt like pros!


While reflecting on this trip, I got to thinking... This experience is really an allegory to the journey of marriage. When it comes to marriage, many of us don't take the time to prepare for it. I mean really prepare for it. Sometimes, in the rush to jump in, we zip through the wedding process so quickly that we don't recognize how unprepared we are to navigate actual marriage until it's too late.


We experienced something like this during our zip-lining tour. One of our tour group members experienced a medical scare halfway through the 3.5 hour excursion. After a 2-mile ATV ride, several short hikes through the area across suspension bridges and after completing a rope climb, the group member was overcome by weakness, chest pain, shortness of breath and a decreased heart rate. There was concern that they may be experiencing a heart attack. Ultimately, a medical team had to be called in on ATV's to come in and extract them from the area that we were in. Meanwhile, the group member's spouse and teenage children were forced to complete the remainder of the tour without their sick family member. Despite beginning the journey together, poor conditioning ultimately meant that they would not all finish together. This is the state of marriages today; Not everyone who begins the journey, finishes.

We Hold On To Him, and He Holds Us Together

I want you to take note of something. In the picture at the top of this story, you can see that Alicia and I are on the journey to the end of the line together, but that we are individually connected to our life lines. The same is true for our marriage; Our life line is God. She's got her connection to God, and I've got my own. As long as we are both connected to Him, we will continue moving together in the same direction and toward the same end. Our decision to stay on pace together required adequate preparation before we jumped and ongoing intentional focus until we reached the end. Even though we were moving independently of each other, we were very much together along our journey. We were, and still are, equally yoked.


What we usually see happening is that husband and wife are only connected to one another. The line that holds them isn't strong enough to support the weight of them both. Any little added weight or pressure leads to a break in the line and when one falls, they both fall. It really is a thin line between love and break (ups). What's worse is that the little things that might cause them to fall are usually minor and navigable for a couple who is properly tied to God. But because there is no connection with a true lifeline - God - they are unable to pull themselves back up because they aren't anchored to anything with the power to lift them up.


Married interracial couple zip-lining in Oahu, Hawaii

So how do you know if you are ready to jump? If you already jumped, how do you know if you've got what it takes to finish? With the example from our zip-lining excursion as a backdrop, I would ask you to consider the following questions for yourself:

  • Who are you holding on to?

  • Do you have someone close by helping to give you sound guidance about the journey you are on or about to embark upon?

  • Are you adequately equipped to navigate the terrain of married life?

  • Do you know how to posture yourself to avoid moving too fast or getting stuck along the way?

  • Are you going to make it to the end together?

Now maybe you are reading this and you are recognizing, perhaps for the first time, that you don't have proper accountability in your relationship, that you are unequipped for the journey of marriage or that you may be moments away from crashing and burning. I assure you that all is not lost.


As I stated before, we had an opportunity to review and familiarize ourselves with the proper procedures for zipping every time we landed on a new platform. You have the same opportunity for your marriage because life gives us many platforms. Platforms are nothing more than moments and opportunities that allow you to stop and take a look around. You get to take time to review your progress and make necessary adjustments before you jump back into the next stretch of life. It gives you time to pray and hear from God, and time to consult with accountability who should be able to speak into our circumstances, confirm what God has spoken to you and offer some hope, perspective and context.


Our stories, this whole Knot Love platform, is nothing more than a place for others to see how we are navigating marriage. In a way, it keeps us accountable as well. We aren't perfect and certainly don't pretend to be. But maybe you'll find something here that might inspire you or encourage you in your own marriage. Consider us as your digital accountability couple. We are just one cog in the wheel though. It is our position that you should have a strong connection with God before you jump into marriage. We also strongly believe that you should have some accountability nearby who can steer you on your journey and help you to recover from or avoid failure. Whether you've been married for 10 minutes or 10 years, this applies to you. This can really help to improve your chances of making it to the end of your marriage, together.

About The Authors:

Interracial couple drinking coffee in Bali, Indonesia

We are Ryan and Alicia Dunlap, marriage coaches and the the founders of ThisIsKnotLove.com. Like a knot, we believe there are two types of marriages; those which are miserable, tangled messes and those which are intentionally fashioned together to join two separate things together as one. We work to remove the bad knots that cause marriages to unravel, and fashion secure knots that hold marriages together. We're just here to help you get the kinks out! #TIKL #KnottyLove

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