The Ripple Effect in Marriage

In September 2016, Lawrence Ripple drove to a bank in Kansas City with a gun and a note:  “I have a gun. Give me money.”  He showed it to a teller who frantically grabbed $3,000 from the drawer and handed it to him.  Then Ripple sat down in the lobby.  The security guard was confused, but approached with caution.  “I’m the guy you’re looking for,” he told the guard.  The police came and arrested him.  No one was injured.  When the police asked Ripple why he did it, he said, “I’d rather be in jail than at home with my wife.” 

He was married for 33 years, but when she nagged him about fixing the dryer, that was the last straw.  In Ripple’s mind, his only way out was to rob a bank.  In a twist of grand irony, the judge sentenced him to house arrest.

I need to be fair to Ripple.  Apparently he had heart surgery the year before, was suffering from depression, and wasn’t thinking clearly.  My intention is not to ridicule him.  However, the story serves as a parable we can all learn from.

Have you ever felt the “Ripple effect” in your marriage?  Have you ever wanted to run away from the pressures of marriage?  Have you ever felt like you’d rather be anywhere than home?

If so, consider some lessons we can learn from the parable of Lawrence Ripple.

1) Men can be cowards.  As men, it’s tempting to run away from our problems.  Instead of dwelling with our wives in an understanding manner (1 Peter 3:7), sometimes we panic.  Ripple tried to hide behind bars, but sometimes we hide behind our work, the newspaper, our hobbies, the TV, or the arms of another woman.

“But for the cowardly…their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).

Sometimes we hide behind our work, the newspaper, our hobbies, the TV, or the arms of another woman.

The truth is, we usually run when we’re afraid or ashamed we’re letting our wives down.  We run when we feel like we can’t handle it, like we’re failures.  Wives, encourage your husbands.  The more we’re respected, the more at home we feel (Ephesians 5:33).

2) Women can be nags.  “It is better to live in a corner of a roof [or in jail, B.M.] than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” (Proverbs 21:9).  Ladies, I know a broken dryer can be stressful, but there’s a way to bring that up without provoking your husband to rob a bank.  The truth is, women nag when they don’t feel cherished, heard, or safe.  Husbands; cherish, listen to, and protect your wives (Ephesians 5:33).

3) Count your blessings.  If you’re having marital struggles, at least you haven’t reached Ripple level!  Take heart — neither of you are in jail, so there is still hope to turn things around!  God loves new beginnings!  “His lovingkindness is new every morning,” (Lamentations 3:22-23) and yours can be too!

4) Marriage isn’t the key to happiness; God is.  The truth is, Ripple and his wife need the Lord.  We all do.  There’s a myth, even among Christians, that you can’t be happy unless you find a spouse.  But if you’re relying on another human being to be the sole source of your soul joy, you may end up in a homemade prison cell like Ripple.

Someone once said, “God may well be taken as a substitute for everything, but nothing can be taken as a substitute for God.”  Amen!  Not even your spouse.

God designed marriage to work.  If marriage feels like a prison, either one spouse is sinning or both are sinning.  Don’t run like Ripple.  Stay home, fix the dryer, then fix your marriage.

What tempts you to want to run away when things get tough?

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