Marriage: Troubled Waters or Sea Glass?

Posted by: Shel 30 Comments
Marriage - troubled waters

Have you ever experienced troubled waters in your marriage? Periods of time when you felt it was broken? Or had events occur that caused so much damage it seemed like the marriage was beyond repair?

If you have been married any length of time, odds are good you’ve experienced some hurts, challenges, or obstacles to the marital bliss you envisioned when you murmured a dreamy “I do.”

Think of your marriage like a bottle. Any kind of bottle – plain, fancy, colored, clear, milk or wine. All are made from fragile glass. When whole, they are useful, serviceable, predictable in their purpose and capabilities.

Over the years your bottle will get dings, chips, and stress cracks. Tough times could cause it to break. Crisis might result in it being smashed or shattered in so many pieces it can never be put together as the same bottle again.

But broken glass isn’t useless. Ever heard of sea glass (a/k/a beach glass)? If bottles are tossed into the sea whole, they may float ashore looking very close to when they hit the water. But if the bottle is broken? The individual pieces are churned in the water, pounded by waves, and ground down by the sand. Jagged edges are smoothed. Once-ordinary glass has been transformed by turbulence into shining gem-like pieces.

Collectors compete to be first at the beach in search of sea glass to create with. Once-broken pieces can come together in ways that surprise and delight. The smoothed out glass can no longer cut. It’s weathered surfaces are more chip-resistant. The broken pieces that survive the raging ocean storms are transformed into beautiful mosaics. If the bottle had remained intact, it would still be serviceable, useful, and, well . . . nice. It’s only by enduring some breakage that it can be honed into a thing with character, strengthened by grout that holds the pieces together, and transformed into a thing of timeless beauty.

Which one do you think is more interesting?

Marriage: Troubled Waters or Sea Glass



Which one do you appreciate more?

Which one do you think will last the longest?

Cortesy of
Cortesy of

Marriage: Troubled Waters or Sea Glass









Which one do you think has the most value?




Related: 5 More With Broken Pieces

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  • Sheila Qualls

    “The smoothed out glass can no longer cut. It’s weathered surfaces are more chip-resistant.” What a great way to look at this. This puts a whole new perspective on trouble in marriage. It can become a thing of beauty.

    • Shel Harrington

      I agree, Sheila – each marriage it’s own unique piece of art!

  • […] Marriage: Troubled Waters or Sea Glass? […]

  • What a wonderful analogy, Shel. I have a friend who can attest to the beauty of sea glass. She makes jewelry from what she’s collected from beaches around the world. I appreciate and relate to, “But broken glass isn’t useless.” No, it’s not.

    • Or metaphor? Anyhow, you know what I mean.

    • Shel Harrington

      I’d LOVE to see your friend’s collection – I can’t begin to imagine the time that went into collecting, sorting, planning, creating, and executing such work. And knowing that each piece is now stronger and long-lasting having been cemented to like (but totally distinct!) other such broken pieces for a work of art!

  • I came here again from the OK Women Bloggers Linkup. I read this post from your email list the other day. I really really liked it! Thanks for sharing!

  • I remember visiting Lake Michigan as a kid, the first time I came across sea glass and fell in love with it. What a beautiful metaphor for life and love.

    • Shel Harrington

      And as others pointed out, it really applies to so many of the relationships in our lives – including with ourselves!

  • Love this post, Shel! What a great illustration. My best friend just mentioned a similar metaphor in caregiving for her elderly mom. It has helped her become less selfish and a better person, “Like water over a rock, smoothing off my rough edges.”

    • Shel Harrington

      That’s really beautiful, Peggi – definitely one to remember!

  • This particular blog & comments were quite meaningful to me. . . Thank you all! Isn’t it great to have a sisterhood online. And then I passed it on to my “hubs” & he appreciated the meaningfulness.

    • Shel Harrington

      Tricia, you absolutely made my day! I, too, appreciated all the input – it helped me see this concept in a broader context. I hadn’t applied it to the relationship we have with ourselves. That makes so much sense – and gives us cause for more gratitude and appreciation for what we have experienced and who we are.

  • Love this post, Shel. So true! And I enjoyed the insightful comments, too.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Dee Dee. I agree with you about the comments – I started seeing the concept in a much broader context!

  • Hi Shel! What a lovely and thought provoking post. The whole bottle is too perfect. I prefer the imperfections of the mosaic. 🙂

    • Shel Harrington

      I hadn’t thought of it that way, Brick – but I soooooo agree with you. Perfection just isn’t that interesting!

  • Gina

    Brilliant Shel. Although sometimes it’s best to just throw the bottle into the recycle bin.

    • Shel Harrington

      I have to agree with you there, Gina – sometimes the pieces can’t be connected again no matter how much glue is used.

  • This is beautiful, Shel. Sea glass is a treasure just like our relationships. Thanks for this!

    • Shel Harrington

      Both a thing of beauty for sure, Jill. Even without being formed into a mosaic, pieces of glass look great in vases, plants, jars, etc. – definitely keepers!

  • Beautiful metaphor for relationships that grow stronger over time and through adversity.

    • Shel Harrington

      And Connie pointed out one that I hadn’t thought about – it applies to how we can view ourselves, too.

  • When my eye got to the mosaics I completely lost track of everything else – they are stunning choices to accompany this post Shel! Your words made me think of my life and all the relationships it has held – each one has contributed to the grinding, honing, polishing effect. I quite like the thought that am a tumbled piece of sea glass. A mosaic in the making 🙂

    • Shel Harrington

      I’d love to see the mosaic you have in progress, Pauline – I bet is colorful, sassy, full of live, and ready to have a few more pieces of glass added to it!!

  • Connie

    Love this –
    And it can apply in other relationships, and even in people themselves, as well.
    Another great blog, Shel.

    • I was thinking exactly the same thing Connie – well said!

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Connie! I agree with both you and Pauline – relationships with friends and family endure the same challenges. Hadn’t thought about applying it to myself before – but that is just as true!

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