Why Does Every Marriage Need a Box Top?

Men putting together puzzle, mid section

Those of us who graduated from the sixth grade long ago can still learn from this story. Read the following and see if you don’t gain some insights:

Last fall I divided my sixth grade Sunday school class into three groups for an interesting contest. As my twelve-year-olds gathered in three circles on the floor, I explained that there was only one rule in our competition: Each group had to put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without talking.

I poured the contents of the puzzles on the floor in front of each group, warning them again that they could not talk. The first group went immediately to work, promptly setting up the top of the puzzle box, which gave everyone a clear view of the picture they were trying to put together.

The second group tried to do the same thing, but they didn’t know that I had switched the top of their puzzle box with the top from another puzzle. I had deliberately given them the wrong lid.  Not knowing that, they set up their box top to use as a guide to assemble their puzzle and went swiftly to work.

As the third group gathered around the pile of pieces I had poured on the floor, the kids were dismayed to discover that I had given them no box top whatsoever to use as a guide. They started to protest, but I reminded them that there was to be no talking!

What followed was fascinating.

The members of Group One were somewhat frustrated by not being allowed to talk, but they still made steady progress because they had a correct picture or plan to work from. Everyone in that group got motivated as the outline of the picture started to emerge.

It didn’t take the members of Group Two long to realize something was wrong. They kept trying to use the box top picture in front of them, but nothing seemed to work. And since they couldn’t talk together, their frustration level soared. One boy waved his hand in the air and acted as though he was about to burst. I relented and allowed him to whisper in my ear, ‘Mr. Rainey,’ he muttered, ‘you gave us the wrong picture. It’s the wrong lid — it’s just not there!”

I smiled, patted him on his shoulder, and said, “Shhh, no talking.” As I turned away, others in his group looked at me with pleading eyes, wondering what they could do. Their puzzle just wasn’t coming together.

But Group Three really captured my attention. Because the group had no picture at all to go by, each kid was doing his own thing. There wasn’t even an attempt at teamwork and, of course, there was no progress. Some members just sat individually, randomly searching for two pieces that seemed to fit. Two of the boys were so bored they started launching puzzle pieces like miniature Frisbees across the room. Others just lay there with their eyes closed. Hopelessness hung in the air.

After letting them work a little longer, I called a halt to the competition and explained what was going on and then I made my point: you can’t live life without a plan.  Dennis Rainey 


1. God has given every married couple a box top. And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6; cf. Genesis 2:18, 21-24).

2. Every marriage needs this box top in order to bring order out of chaos (2 Peter 1:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:2; 6:13; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

3. Husbands and wives can only find true joy, stability and intimacy when they pattern their lives after God’s divine plan (cf. John 10:10; cf. Ephesians 5:22-33; Titus 2:4-5).  Mike Benson

1Rainey, Dennis. “The Master Plan for Oneness.” Lonely Husbands, Lonely Wives, 117-118.

“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike

Author: imikemedia

Christian. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Evangelist. Son. Photographer. Outdoorsman.

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