A group of researchers/psychologists did a study involving red balloons and elementary aged children.
Researchers took a classroom of students who had average-normal intelligence. Their teacher gave them each a red balloon. She then explained they would be playing a game. Each child would tie their red balloon to one of their ankles. When she said to go, the children would then run around the room and attempt to pop the other children's balloons while simultaneously protecting their balloon from being popped. The student who managed to pop balloons and keep their balloon from being popped would be declared the winner. After completing the instructions and asking for questions, the game began.
Students frantically ran about the room attempting to pop each other's balloons. One group of students flocked together in the corner of the room in an attempt to band together and ally against the impending forces, until one student in the group began popping those balloons. Pandemonium ensued. Students were running amuck as legs, arms, and feet flailed about the room until one boy stood victorious. He was the winner. Shards of red and once air filled wonderment littered the room as the other students moaned in disappointment for not being able to protect their balloons. There was a winner. And there were losers.
In another classroom researchers gathered mentally challenged students. Their teacher gave them the same instructions and told them to go. Standing in a state of bewilderment, these students felt a sense of appreciation for having received their red balloons and it was obvious they struggled with having to destroy one another's. A father of one little girl was watching and remembered the way his daughter responded. She knelt down and motioned to another little boy to come over and join her. Once together the little girl held her balloon as would a football player holding the ball for a kicker. The little boy proudly stomped on her balloon popping it. Seen as a sure success the little girl jumps up and begins joyously hugging the little boy until he breaks the embrace to kneel and hold his balloon for her. She too succeeds in popping the balloon and they return to their embrace. Once all the balloons have been popped, the students bond together in the center of the room in one big hug, congratulating one another on having achieved their goal - to pop the balloons. All were winners. There were no losers.
This simple study draws on the complexities of competition. The drive to compete is instilled in us from an early age, yet can be detrimental to our marriages. We should be longing to participate in marriages that celebrate the love and life of one another, not putting one another down to create winners and losers.
What are you doing with your red balloon?