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Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.—Simone Signoret
It is a powerful metaphor to recognize the strength of hundreds of tiny threads holding a marriage together.
Chains seem coercive; forced; even imprisoning.
Threads, hundreds of them, give the sense that the tensile fragility of a single fibre grows in strength little by little, string by strand, day after day in marriage. It is more like a spider’s web: threads that envelops a couple willingly in the inescapable bond of marriage.
Thus I was intrigued when Barb Taub reflected on the span of Judith Barrow’s “family trilogy” and her prequel:
“It wasn’t until I read 100 Tiny Threads, that I really started to understand… the things that tie families together even as they drive them apart… 100 Tiny Threads tells the story of that first generation, their demons, their loves, their hopes, and their failures, and most importantly, their strength to forge a life despite those failures… As Simone Signoret said, ‘Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.’ And it’s both those secrets and those threads not only unite them into a family, but ultimately provide their strength.”
What is the substance of these threads?
In an earlier post, “Torn Apart – Sewn Together” I wrote in response to an article written by a wife who’s heart was ripped by her husband’s affair. He would eventually return to seek her forgiveness, but by then she was having none of it:
“Forgiveness is a loaded term, and when the unfaithful husband came back to his wife wanting to try again, who can blame [the wife] for being very suspicious of his motives. But what if there had been forgiveness? What if the relationship could be restored?
Like anything of value that is torn apart, the mend doesn’t make it look better; the stitch is simply the unfashionable and unsightly seam of trying to put things back together. Why would anyone even attempt to sew together that which has been torn? That is the question couples have to answer when there has been betrayal; is there any value here?
Marriages suffer numerous little betrayals before something is ripped apart, ripped out, or resewn imperfectly. Marriages might be likened to a fabric with numerous stitches. What might your little repairs and unseemly stitches say about how you feel and think and value your marriage? You can run your fingers along the seams and remember the tear, how much that hurt, and how much it means to you now to be together?”
May you have grace to forgive yourself, to forgive your spouse, and to forgive what you hold against God.
May you have grace to forgive and give again, to trust while being a little wiser now.
May you know and be fully known.
Feel the scar of a 100 tiny threads:
Imagine running your fingers along the seam – the scar made by the tiny threads whose fragility hold your marriage together. It can elicit the memory of both the tear, and the work it takes to sew it back imperfectly. But of course, it is sewn together merely in a different imperfect way than the marriage was before.
I do not assume a breezy “forgiveness” is easily possible, since I believe forgiveness is always costly, but necessary for any relationship to continue.
What are the Tiny Threads holding your marriage together?
Next week I explore Truth & Reconciliation in “Become my Son.”
See this Gottman Institute article: Marriage is not a Big Thing, It’s a Million Little Things.