I have some friends who are accomplished long distance runners and competitors. Fortunately I have yet to succumb to the thought of joining them and proving to myself that after six decades I still have it. (The truth is I don’t think that I’ve ever had it to begin with.) Therefore all I know about running in marathons is what I read and what people have told me, which means I know nothing.
What I do know about is competing in a marathon marriage because I’ve been married for forty-two years, and there are some parallels to the world of marathon runners that can be applied to marriage. If you want a “marathon marriage,” try following these tips:
- Don’t dwell on the bad days – Every day of training is not a good day, but you don’t quit training. You will have bad days in your marriage, but don’t overreact to that and don’t quit. It’s just a day. It happens.
- Don’t let the stress of daily life interfere with your training – Don’t let life distract you from paying attention to your marriage. There will be many things plying for your attention, but you must keep your marriage your number one priority.
- Be tenacious – Runners have to have grit to compete in races, and you need that same kind of mental toughness to make your marriage last. Fight for it with every ounce of your being.
- Be heart healthy – You can keep competing in a race if you get a leg cramp, or pull a muscle, or get a headache, but if your heart fails you, you’re done. To keep your marriage moving forward, you, as individuals, need to do things that will keep your heart and spirit healthy and alive and vibrant.
- Surround yourself with balcony people, not basement people – The original purpose of balconies on the front of houses was so that people could cheer soldiers on parade to war. Every competitor knows the importance of having people who will cheer for you and encourage you. Basement people want to drag you down in to their dark, dank, depressing place. They will tell you you can’t do it, to give up, what’s the point. Protect your marriage from those toxic people by keeping them at arm’s length. Surround yourself with people who will tell you to keep trying and not to give up.
In our current climate of “throw away marriages,” I want to challenge you to buck the trend and stay in it for the long haul. Be part of a marathon marriage.