They stand nearly six feet or 18 hands and have long, thick necks, sloping shoulders, muscular hindquarters and hooves the size of frying pans. The ones most of us are familiar with are brown with white legs and some white on their stomachs. Most of us have seen them only on television, pulling a Budweiser wagon. They are known as Clydesdale horses, and they are massive, intelligent and lively animals. They are a team.

Another fascinating animal has a face as white as snow, surrounded by a deep brown, black or silver hood. Many gracefully glide through the hard-packed tundra of Alaska and stand only two feet in height. They can endure running more than 1,000 miles along with their teammates. They are strong, fast, and loyal and to the musher who holds the reins, Alaskan Huskies are a team.

Now picture this—a Clydesdale and an Alaskan Husky in a yoke together.  A yoke is a wooden beam used between a pair of oxen or horses to allow them to pull a load. The animals, yoked as a team, are typically the same height and weight which allows them to balance the load appropriately.  Visualize the Clydesdale and Husky again.  Wouldn’t they be silly yoked together?  Can you see the Alaskan Husky kind of hanging in the air dangling by its neck, in that yoke with its feet off the ground because of the massive size of that Clydesdale?

To me that’s a picture of what some people look like in their marriage when they are unequally yoked, and it usually affects the whole family. There is not a sense of unity in the marriage or family, and so while the dominate one in the group stands firmly on the ground; the others are kind of left lifeless in the air. Teamwork is not possible. In an unequally yoked family, everyone has their own belief system and different way of thinking, and it results in everyone moving in their own direction.

If the oxen or horses in a yoke were to move in opposite directions, not together, the result would be the same as a family unequally yoked. Nothing would get accomplished and nobody would go anywhere.

Families need to understand they are a team. Certainly within that team, each individual has their own personality and style. It’s okay for each family member to express themselves, but when it comes to core beliefs, the family that works best together is the one who functions as a team with everybody moving in the same direction toward a common goal.

That means learning to understand each other. Listen to each other. Help one another. Support each other. Respect each other, and above all, love one another unconditionally. Is that easy? No. It seems as though the ones we truly love the most are the ones we often hurt the most and are the hardest to forgive. I hear stories all the time about family members who haven’t talked to each other in years, usually the result of a silly argument or misunderstanding.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Just as I have heard about families breaking apart, I have heard tales of families coming together because one person set aside pride, accepted an apology, or sought forgiveness, and restored balance. No longer was anyone suspended in the air but everyone had their feet firmly on the ground, loving and supporting each other and functioning as a team.