• Ryan Dunlap

Sole Ties: What My Kid's Shoes Taught Me About Marraige.

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

We tie up our shoes before we head out to ensure that our soles are protected.

We should likewise tie ourselves to God to ensure that our souls are protected.


When I was a little boy, I struggled while learning how to tie my shoes. The double bunny ear formula never worked out for me. I usually just ended up twisting my laces together until they were loosely tied. Within a few seconds of running around, I would find them untied... again.


Shoe tying was such a hardship for me that I even remember trying to lie about it at least once. We had gone out as a family and my dad had tied my shoes for me. When we returned home, I consciously slipped them off ever so carefully, taking care to not disturb my dad's perfectly tied shoe laces. My plan was to slip them back on while they were already tied the next time we went out. I'm not sure who I thought I was fooling, but apparently parents can tell the difference between a 5 years old's tied shoe and their own. My dad quickly challenged me on the spot and asked me to do it again while he watched... Yeah, that didn't work out too well.


As a father of three, I now find myself taking extra notice of my own kid's untied shoes. They always seem to be untied! I lose count of how many times I have to tell them to tie their shoes, daily. They will stop, tie them loosely, and then after a few minutes their shoes are untied again. Ultimately, either I or Alicia will have to bend down and tie them ourselves.


There are some times, though, when even I can't tie them. After so many bad ties and tangles, I find that their laces are either full of knots or the ends are frayed from being walked on which prohibits them from being tied securely together.

The difference between being United and being Untied is the order of things.

You know what I've discovered after 13 years of marriage and 18 years of friendship? I discovered that marriage is a lot like shoe laces. It's actually easier to be untied than it is to remain united together. We tie ourselves to the wrong things, become unraveled and eventually untied. Then we get stepped on and frayed, becoming more and more unable to tie ourselves to the things that matter. And isn't it interesting that the words untied and united contain the same letters, just arranged in a different order? By simply changing the order of the letters, it changes the meaning of the word entirely.


Many of us are in marriages right now that are untied because our priorities are out of order; God isn't first. We have a tendency to tie ourselves to our kids first, or to our careers, our hobbies, dreams or aspirations. Others of us place our spouses first and elevate them above God. Whenever we do this, it becomes so easy to get unraveled as we navigate tension, unmet and unrealistic expectations, disappointments, stress and frustration. We feel stepped on, overlooked, neglected or under-appreciated; frayed. That leads to feelings of disconnectedness and sometimes a desire to be untied from one another.


We tie up our shoes before we head out to ensure that our soles are protected.

We should likewise tie ourselves to God to ensure that our souls are protected.


I'm not perfect and neither is Alicia. We both see the world from two different points of view. And while we share many of the same goals and desires for our family long term, our daily expectations, desires and goals can be very different at times. If we were to remain untied, our souls might drift in opposite directions and we might conclude that we just weren't meant to be. We might say that we had irreconcilable differences and choose to untie ourselves from one another. But because we are reconciled to God and remain securely tied to Him, our differences cannot be unreconciled. He ensures that our expectations, desires and goals are in alignment with His own and that we are united.


We've said it before on TIKL and we will continue to say it. There are two types of marriages in the world today. There are those which are a miserable, tangled mess that we deliberately work to unravel; That's not love. Then there are those which are intentionally fashioned with the purpose of joining two separate things together as one, and they become even tighter and more secure under pressure; That is Knot love.


The key to remaining tied together is recognizing a few things. One, recognize that order matters. Your life's priorities are arranged around you like the letters of the alphabet. Depending on where you place your priorities, you will begin to see how your future is spelled out. A Godly marriage is dependent on your connectedness to God. If you put him first, then your spouse, then your children and then everything else, you will find marraige easier to navigate.


That brings me to another point. Friction, pressure and tension are required. Marriage isn't supposed to be easy. Too many people seek to have problem free and tension free marriages, not recognizing that that pressure is what holds you together. Whenever they encounter a little bump in the road, they immediately want to stop driving forward. The friction from your tires keeps your car on the road. The pressure from gravity keeps your car on the ground. The pressure and heat in your motor keeps your car moving forward. Likewise, the friction, pressure and tension in your marriage is what keeps us tied to God.


Whatever you do, don't try to slip your foot into someone else's tied shoe. It's not difficult to recognize when someone is walking around while tied to a sole that doesn't belong to them. Your sole can only be protected when you're tied into the shoe that was meant for your foot. ;)

About The Authors:

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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