I spent this weekend at our annual retreat with a great group of married couples that my wife Dalia and I have the pleasure of leading in our local church’s marriage ministry. We consider these couples to be family. We learn, laugh, and cry together. We pray for each other through the highs and lows. Best of all, we push one another to be the absolutely best version of our marriage. We refuse to settle for ordinary marriages. We eschew mediocrity. We grant each other permission to “call a spade a spade” when we see it. We are an accountability system for one another—which is something every Christian couple needs.
Before we departed from the retreat, I shared with the team the “correct” way to peel a banana. What makes it the “correct” way? Fair question. It’s the way that the mammals who eat far more bananas than humans do peel them--monkeys.
If you watch a primate peel a banana, you will observe them do it just the opposite of what nearly all of us humans have learned to do over our entire lives. They do not try to peel from the stem. Rather, they flip the banana in what we would call an “upside down” fashion. They then peel down towards the stem. It is an extremely more efficient (and easy) way to peel the banana courtesy of our primate friends. You should try it. The group was amazed when they tried it themselves.
When offering this object lesson to the team, one of them asked what marriage lesson I could possibly pull from this.
For my entire life I have peeled the banana from the stem. Sometimes, it peeled without too much difficulty. Other times it was a hot mess. If the banana was over ripe, I would easily smush part of the banana trying to peel it. If the banana was too green, it rarely peels nicely along the seams. Yet, for fifty plus years, I’ve always peeled that banana the same way—stem first. Why?
I peeled it that way because that is exactly how I saw my parents and grandparents peel bananas. I cannot tell you how many generations of Arnolds have peeled bananas from the stem. Yet, about a year ago, my adult son said to me, “Dad. I saw on television that monkeys actually peel bananas from the bottom.” Then, he showed me. I was in disbelief.
My entire life I’ve been peeling bananas the hard way and I had no idea. This was for me a someone trite but important paradigm shift. I would never peel bananas the same way again.
When it comes to marriage, just because you have been thinking and doing things the same way for years or even decades does not mean that you’re doing it efficiently. Just because you saw your parents deal with communication and finances a certain way does not mean that is the best way to handle them. Just because you grew up watching maladaptive patterns of parenting does not mean that they are healthy. In fact, given the abysmal rate of divorce and emotional detachment in marriage, it seems pretty self-evident that the way we have seen marriage lived out in our family lineage is far from what God desires.
God is calling for a paradigm shift in the way that we do marriage. He wants us to unabashedly flip the marriage upside down and take a completely different approach to living out our purposes as a couple. The marital stresses that you currently endure are sufficient evidence that your established actions are not the best version of you.
What you and I have been calling the bottom of the banana is actually the top and the top is really the bottom. In scripture, Christ tells us (Luke 9:48) that those that are the least of these are actually the greatest. The Apostle Matthew (Matthew 23:11) tells us that the greatest of those among us are actually the servant. In other words, you've been looking at the wrong side of bananas and marriage as the starting point.
You and I can (and must) do better.
Take this opportunity to flip some of the problem spots and look at them from a different vantage point. If you can do this with integrity, what you see is going to surprise you.
This banana-flipping paradigm shift is exactly what we seek to invoke with the spiritual revival that we are leading with the Eusebeia movement. We have a righteous discontent with marriage as usual. We are committed to fostering marriages that look more like Christ—not in words but in deeds. We are not content to just recite a scripture. We want to embody the scripture. If this sounds like you then I’d love to hear from you. Read through the articles on this site and seriously considering joining the movement. We would love to have you.