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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

Riding Tandem


Friends, can you believe it’s MAY already?!


May has always been my favorite month because it contains so many special days for our family: Our wedding anniversary (47 years on May 1), our daughters’ birthdays (Amber and Sarah turn 39 on May 3), and my beloved father-in-law’s birthday (Poppa would have been 99 this week.) And then there’s Mom’s Day right there in the middle.


Now that both our mothers have passed away, the second Sunday in May in tinged with sorrow since I no longer have anyone to purchase cards or gifts for. But perhaps you do!


[If you’d like a hardcover copy of Life is Sweet, Y’all, for your mother, daughter, sister, or friend – I’ve got you covered! For $15 and free shipping I’m happy to sign, personalize, gift-wrap, and mail your gift to the bestie of your choice. Just be sure to email me at maggiewrowe@gmail.com no later than May 9 to put in your request.]


But of all the special days May contains, none is more significant to me than my wedding anniversary.


Without it there would be no daughters or sons to celebrate, no second set of parents to love, honor, and miss.


Not long ago, Mike and I rented a tandem bike for a Sunday afternoon outing. If riding solo over tough terrain is challenging, riding tandem should be half the work, right?


It’s harder than it looks.


Maybe you’re married, too, and while you’d choose your spouse all over again, you’ve experienced the work a successful marriage partnership entails. Or it could be that the one who promised to love you for better or worse forgot those vows when they were no longer convenient.


You might still be single or single again, wondering whether God’s the one with the bad memory. Has he forgotten your heart’s desire for a life-partner to cherish you above all others? Will there ever be anyone special for you?


I hear you, and you’re not alone. I have friends in each of those places and then some. Their stories aren’t mine to tell, but after 47 years, Mike and I have learned a bit about riding tandem.


It’s natural to wobble at first. You’re working as a team now. It takes time and practice to learn the rhythms of grace of riding with a partner.


The first big argument Mike and I had about six months into marriage was how we’d celebrate Christmas. Would we observe traditions the way his family had or the way mine did (the right way, of course?!) We argued the point down to how long the needles on the tree should be. Another early blowup had to do with my silent expectations about our first anniversary plans.


Unstated expectations are unfair expectations.


Before we hopped aboard our tandem ride, the bike technician advised us to lean into the curves. The pastor who did our premarital counseling said the same thing. Life throws those at you. If you’re leaning one way and your spouse insists on the other, slow down and get your signals straight.


Another tip for the road? Yield to each other when you get to an intersection where the right-of-way is unclear. Two vehicles or people can’t occupy the same space at the same time or there will be major conflict.


Prepare properly before you set out.


We’re grownups, right? People have been riding bikes since forever, so who needs advice? We did.


“You won’t get far with a chain like that,” the technician observed. We listened, made some adjustments, and were better for it. How many relationships might have been saved if the couple spent as much time preparing for the marriage as they did on the details of the wedding day?


Riding tandem gets easier with practice. Farther down the bike path Mike and I were starting to peddle in sync. And after decades of marriage, we’ve learned to put each other’s needs above our own. In some crazy strange way, we both win.


So yeah, you go faster alone, but you travel farther together.


And those riding partners who bail out or push you off? It happens and it stinks. But the journey’s not over.


“So how did it go?” the technician asked when we returned, laughing and a bit out of breath. “Worth the ride or wish you’d gone solo?”


We’ve been riding tandem for over forty years, Mr. Bike Man. And yes, it’s been worth the ride.


Every mile and every minute.


Portions of this post adapted from This Life We Share by Maggie Wallem Rowe. Copyright © 2020. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.


Maggie Wallem Rowe is a speaker and dramatist who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. The author of two books, Maggie loves doing life with her riding-partner, Mike.

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