Have You Lost Your Marbles?

Maybe “lost” is not quite the word. Have you used up all your marbles may be more fitting. There is an old joke told in a format I call observational humour that goes something like this: in your first year of marriage, place a marble in a jar every time you are intimate. After the first year, remove a marble from the same jar every time you are intimate. The jar will never be empty.

I decided to pass this bit of humorous advice on to my soon to be daughter-in-law.                                      

I have been known to hold nothing back when it comes to embarrassing my children. I figured there is no better way to make your soon to be daughter-in-law feel a part of the family than to make her embarrassed. I did not realize that my son had chosen a wife that had no issue engaging in a head to head battle to see who would end up the most embarrassed. After the completion of my marble story she simply said, “we’re going to prove you wrong.”

I was given the honour of performing their wedding.

I recounted this story to those in attendance thus demonstrating that my son’s perfect match for a wife was also the perfect match for my embarrassing quips. I had now proclaimed to those who came to celebrate the marriage of these two lovebirds, that a strange version of guess how many marbles are in the jar appeared to be the game of choice at the Peever residence.

There was a reason other than embarrassing my daughter-in-law that I told this story.

My instruction to the bride and groom during the ceremony were:

There is a better use for jars and marbles.

Instead of one jar and a bunch of marbles, each of you should have two jars and a bunch of marbles.

Jar #1:  Add a new marble every time you do or say something to help/support your spouse.

Jar #2:   Add a new marble every time you do or say something that isn’t a help/support to your spouse.

The goal is to keep Jar #2 empty and fill Jar #1.

I don’t know about them but I probably had a few marbles in Jar #2 before we even left on our honeymoon.

What was the object of this exercise?

I guess it would be logical to assume that if you subtract the amount of marbles in Jar #2 from the amount of marbles in Jar #1, you could figure out who won. The truth is, even one marble in your Jar #2 means the other person losses, it doesn’t matter how many marbles are in Jar #1.  It should be our goal in any relationship, especially our marriage, to be more helpful/supportive than we are unhelpful/unsupportive but we all have times when we fall well short of this goal.

To win in your marriage there needs to be a way to move the marbles from Jar #2 to Jar #1.

This jar game isn’t about winning against your spouse, it is about beating the odds for a successful marriage (they aren’t very good these days). If both of you play to win the jar game your marriage wins. If the two of you are, for the most part, helpful/supportive and avoid being unhelpful/unsupportive your attempt at beating the odds has a fighting chance.

Still, there will always be times that you or your spouse will end up dropping a marble in Jar #2.

If your spouse’s behaviour means they need to add a marble to Jar #2 you will be tempted to respond with behaviour that means you need to add a marble to Jar #2. If you respond by being helpful/supportive, Jar #1 behaviour instead of Jar #2 behaviour, you defuse the situation.

By not repaying Jar #2 behaviour with Jar #2 behaviour you have turned a Jar #2 situation into a Jar #1 response, for that you have earned the right to move a marble from your Jar #2 into your Jar #1.

Important reminder about this game.

You really don’t need jars and marbles. The metaphor should be enough to help you adopt behaviours to beat the odds. If you do decide to use marbles and jars, hide them. Do not let the other person see how full or empty they are or you’re just asking for some unhelpful/unsupportive interactions around who should put marbles in what jar and how many.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy [start with your spouse]; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

Note: [start with your spouse] was added by me.

View this passage and much more (without anything added by me) at BibleGateway.com

One more thing…

… when my son and daughter-in-law returned from their honeymoon they found a bag of marbles and one jar on their bed – they have been married for 3 ½ years – I don’t want to know if I’ve been proven wrong.


  1. I too chuckled at “have you lost your marbles” even though I guess I did when I had a mental break down, which I’m attempting to write about to add to my blog
    Whenever my wife and I get cross or annoyed, one (not saying who) of us always make up before bedtime
    So we have never felt the need of jars of marbles

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave, I had to chuckle at your use of this story, and it brought two responses. One was I think I follow what you said, but it is a little like reading Romans 7. You know how it’s supposed to work out but the weeds can be challenging! lol

    The other response was actually my first, which was related to your use of the word “intimate”. That word has become very important to me in the past few months as I have come to a better understanding of what that means. Without all the details, let me say that I have been a sexual addict since I first got married. So my idea of intimacy was skewed and it was more about the physical marbles than real intimacy. Not that I didn’t know better, but it was always about me.

    Fact is, I am just now learning about real intimacy with my precious wife, and that has happened, in part, because I chose to put the jar away and think about her rather than myself. I am learning to love her and value her and enjoy her company far better than ever before, and that without using one of those old marbles that used to be so important – more important, really than even she was to me, I’m so sorry to admit.

    To be honest, I don’t care if I ever see another marble, because I deeply desire that true love and intimacy with her continue, without distraction, to advance and become as God always intended. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so attracted to her and her alone now that my physical desire for her is almost overwhelming at times, and it is no longer tainted by thoughts of anyone else, or porn, or you name it. But God knows all this, and he is orchestrating this, and his plan is working, and it’s fine by me!

    Thanks for the good illustration. Enjoy the bantering with the new family member!

    Liked by 2 people

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