The Three Little Pigs.
Although this is a parable about leaving home, it is also a story about building one's house--an excellent metaphor for marriage.
When the first little pig builds a house of straw, the wolf comes along blows the house down instantly. The second little pig, a bit older and wiser, builds a stronger house of twigs, but it cannot withstand the wolf's onslaught either. The third little pig, (who may really be the same pig at a later stage of development) builds a solid house of bricks, which the wolf cannot destroy. The wily wolf then slides down the chimney, but the third little pig has put a pot of boiling water into the fireplace and thus defeats the enemy inside the house. The house built of bricks by a wise pig will withstand not only the wolves house built of bricks but also those on the inside.
The metaphor of building a strong house applies to every marriage; when children arrive, the "walls" are extended to accomodate the needs, the wishes, and emotional growth of the whole family and to withstand the wolves outside the door and those that lurk 'within'. Because crises are inevitable, a marriage is never out of danger.
Threats from 'without' include such unpredictable events as the loss of a job, a forced move to a new area, a natural disaster.
The stresses on a marriage inside its walls include the maturing changes associated with parenthood, midlife, retirement, and aging, and the tragedies such as illness and death.
The threat of divorce lurks both outside and inside the house.
All major changes--accidental or developmental--have the potential for either weakening the walls of the marriage or leading to their reinforcement, depending on whether the couple blame each other or work together to deal with the threat and move on.
Many of divorcing families fail to construct a marriage strong enough to withstand the inevitable, acute, and ongoing stresses of life. By comparison, the good marriages have maintained their integrity and staying power because they were built of sturdier materials and were reinforced over the years as the menacing wolves appeared.
It is this lifetime process of building that distinguishes good marriages and the people in them.
The Good Marriage - Wallerstein & Blakeslee