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Two Ticks and No Dog - by Ben and Deb Sternke


I have yet to meet Ben and Deb, but my husband Mark tells me they are amazing, so I am honoured and thrilled to have them contribute to this month's blog series.  You are not going to want to miss this piece, it's one of those simple but powerful truths that we all need to catch hold of:  


Many years ago, Deb and I were sitting in a conference on marriage and family, and the speaker said one of the funniest and most helpful things we'd ever heard on marriage:

"Most marriages are two ticks and no dog."

After we got over our initial shock and fit of laughter, we learned what he meant. Most of us are looking to our spouse to fulfill our deepest needs, which is incredibly frustrating because they can't meet those needs. Like two ticks attached to one another trying to get life and fulfillment from the other, not realizing that neither one has what the other needs. You need a dog in there! A source of fulfillment that BOTH the ticks can draw from. In the metaphor, it's a dog. In real life, it's God.

Deb and I immediately realized that this was how we functioned. We were looking to one another for a sense of identity and belonging, but always ending up frustrated because the other didn't have what we really needed! We were seeking to get from each other what could really only be received from God himself.

Slowly but surely, we began to intentionally look to God for our needs instead of trying to get them met from each other. This left us "filled up" and ready to give to one another out of a place of overflow instead of a position of lack. As we continued to seek to give to one another instead of get from one another, we found that God continued to pour into us to fill the places of need that we had.

Of course we still stumble backward quite often in all of this, but at least we know what to do when we notice ourselves starting to look to each other instead of God for our needs to be met.


Ben and Deb Sternke live in Fort Wayne, Indiana, have four children and have been married for 16 years.

 They are 

passionate about helping churches and leaders learn to make disciples of Jesus. 

Check out Ben's blog 



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