One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’m a pilot. I only fly a single-engine plane, but my hobby puts me in contact with all kinds of pilots. One of my friends runs a charter service and he was telling me about a time he hired a commercial pilot to fly for him.
The commercial pilot had 30 years of experience behind him. He had something like 15,000 hours in the cockpit carrying hundreds of people at a time in commercial jetliners. But do you know what he said when my friend asked him to get behind a twin-engine propeller plane?
“Well, I’m going to have to brush up on my skills, because it’s been a while since I’ve flown,” the pilot said.
My friend was confused. “What do you mean it’s been a while? You’re a commercial pilot.”
“With the planes I fly, I drive to the runway and push a button,” the pilot said. “It takes off, flies all the way there, lands itself, and I park it back at the gate.”
Commercial flying has become so sophisticated that a pre-programmed autopilot function now does most of the work of a pilot. And that’s great for efficiency, but the more a pilot relies on autopilot, the more he or she loses their actual flying skills.
You’d be surprised how many plane crashes happen because autopilot disengages and the pilot wasn’t ready or equipped to fly without it.
After several years, I’ve seen good marriages fail because they were operating on autopilot. A man and woman start dating and they work hard to get to know each other and meet each other’s needs.
They get engaged and work on their relationship because the wedding is coming.
They get married and put in more work as they start this exciting new stage in their lives. They put in the effort.
Then, because things may be working out well, they hit autopilot and start to relax. Instead of focusing on each other, they pay more attention to the kids or to their careers. And the marriage seems to be coasting along just fine on autopilot.
But what happens when it runs out of gas? Or what if something makes the autopilot disengage? That’s when the trouble starts.
Because if you go on autopilot in any area—communication, romance, your spiritual lives—you begin to lose important skills. You neglect each other. You ignore things. You become unaware. It puts you in a dangerous place.
No marriage can fly itself. Every relationship requires human input. It takes two human beings working at a relationship in order for it to remain healthy.
Marriage is a two-pilot plane. I fly a single-pilot plane but the most powerful aircraft—including commercial jets—require at least two people in the cockpit. Marriage is powerful, but you can’t fly it alone. Don’t make your spouse fly by themselves.
People get hurt when a plane goes down. If you value the lives “on board” a marriage, which include your children, then you need to be paying attention to that plane. You can’t coast on autopilot.
The very best thing a husband and wife can do for their family is to work on their marriage. If you’ve been on autopilot in any part of your relationship, it’s time to click off before you lose valuable skills. Re-engage and soon you’ll find your marriage flying high again.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today