Friday, July 5, 2013

10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage–#7. Manage Your Mayonnaise Jar Wisely

Marriage Tip #7

Again, I like to share, so this post will be broken up into 3 parts.

1. Setting the stage for the tip (the mayonnaise jar story)

2. Further explanation of how the mayonnaise jar story pertains to marriage

3. Personal application

Most of you have probably heard the following story, but even if you have, read it again. We can NEVER have too many reminders.

The mayonnaise jar

A professor stood before his philosophy class, with some unusual items in front of him on the desk. When the class began, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the small gaps between the golf balls. He asked the students again if the jar was full, and they agreed that it was.

Now the professor picked up a small box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up all the remaining gaps between the golf balls and the pebbles. Once again he asked the students if the jar was full, and the response was a unanimous ‘yes.’

Now the professor produced a cup of coffee from under the table and poured its contents into the jar, filling the remaining air pockets in the sand.


The students laughed.

When the laughter subsided, the professor said:

‘Now imagine that this jar represents your life:

  • The golf balls are the important things – God, family, children, friends, favorite passions and your health. These are the things that, if everything else were lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
  • The pebbles are the other things that matter like, your job, house, and car.
  • The sand is everything else — ‘the small stuff.’

The professor continued: 'The moral of my story is this: it’s important to get these things in your life in the right order. Here’s why:

If you put the sand into the jar first, there won’t be any room left for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you’ll never have room for the things that are important to you.

So take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. The rest is just sand.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness:

  • Play with your children
  • Take your lover out to dinner
  • Talk to your friends.

There will always be time to clean the house, do the dishes and fix the garage door.

One of the students raised her hand and asked what the cup of coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked: The coffee just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room to share a cup or two with a friend.’


Worth the read, right?

Make room for the golf balls FIRST!

This includes your husband, ladies, and men…your wife.

Upon entering marriage, every couple endures some adjustments in that first year. Up until this point, you’ve pretty much only had to worry about you, and you alone. And while your significant other was definitely a significant “golf ball” prior to marriage, NOW….NOW he or she represents a golf ball you have get to keep for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! Can you imagine keeping track of one golf ball for the remainder of your life? Not losing it? I don’t know about you and your chaotic life, but in my household? Keeping track of one golf ball would be incredibly difficult.

Think of the things you’ve lost over the years, that were crucially important and yet somehow, they just got lost…

Keys, wallets….children! *gasp*

Adding a “golf ball” to that list doesn’t seem completely out of the realm of normal. So now, you see, how fragile this thing called marriage can be. And how as a newlywed, adjusting to keeping your sights set on this brand new, incredibly important, sometimes hard to find golf ball, can represent a challenge.

In other words, after marriage, it takes some adjusting to realize your spouse needs to be at the top of your “golf ball list”. Winking smile So, while we might THINK we’ve got our spouse at the top, let’s address what sand represents…

Man, sand can REALLY get in the way, and can be SUPER tricky to get rid of.


I absolutely adore this picture of my daughter from only a year ago! See all that sand stuck in every nook and cranny of her adorable, michelin-man, chubby little legs?

While sand (i.e. hobbies such as running, surfing, scrapbooking, decorating, fishing, video games, etc.) can be relaxing and enhance our lives…

…it can also really become bothersome and interfere with all the fun being had.


The hubs and I had some struggles figuring out how to give the “sand” less authority in our early stages of marriage.

Speaking more from my side of the story (there’s ALWAYS two sides to the story), one of the main issues for me was my husband’s love of video games. We knew it was going to be a struggle even before we ever got married. In college, he would have weekend long “gaming sessions” in which he and his friends would pretty much stop only to eat and use the bathroom (notice I didn’t mention sleep in there). Needless to say, he would play for hours (and hours) at night, completely losing track of time. I’d try and poke my head in and say, “Hey hun, how much longer do you think you’ll play?” But he was in “THE ZONE”. Any other girlfriends or wives out there that can relate with attempting to break your man out of “THE ZONE”? Winking smile Pretty much, short of literally cutting the cord to the computer (or console), there’s no breaking them out of it.

Imagine how that left me feeling. He’d say, “Just tell me when I’ve played too much”. In girl world, “When I have to spend time with you, come tell me and I will”, like it’s an obligation. I know now that’s not what he meant, but it’s certainly how it left me feeling.

I’ll be honest, it probably took a good 6 years to break this cycle and find a balance. I had to learn that for my husband, video games is a type of stress relief, and it’s actually helpful for him to play. I also really did need to voice my opinion about how much was too much, and not let it hurt my ego feelings.

And my husband had to learn that video games was, in fact, in the “sand” category. Can I tell you how much that made me feel like a princess? That I am, indeed, more important than video games? Sounds silly, but it’s one of the many, many sacrifices he’s made for us in our marriage, and for that, I’m thankful.

So, what’s the “sand” that’s interfering in your marriage? Is it something you’re devoting too much time to? Is it something your spouse is, and you haven’t voiced your opinion yet? Whatever it is, put it aside and focus on the golf ball in front of you, cherish it.


  1. Hi! I just found your blog from a random search I did on bloglovin for Cars birthday ideas, and realized, hey that's Becky! Anyway I am in MOPS, have been for the last 2 semesters at Kristin's table, and will be signing up for fall. Glad to find your blog, you do a great job!! I have a blog ministry over at

    Glad to find your blog to follow :) Happy Summer!

    1. I'm so glad you happened by, and left a comment. I stopped by yours and! What wisdom! Thanks for sharing. =)


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