Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Our third annual 5k is fast approaching! I hope you all have been training hard, and are ready to get out there and set a new personal best. As we prepare, let's think about what can race-running teach us about marriage.
I have heard it said that marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. In the context of a life together, that first day, the day we got married, is like a hundred yard dash. We spend lots of time preparing for it: booking a venue, hiring caterers and musicians, sending invitations... the list of things to do to plan a wedding seems endless! But then, finally, the day arrives - and all of the sudden it’s over. It’s easy to relax, thinking "Phew! Now it's done!" But marriage, the marathon, has just started. Have we trained for that? What work have we put in to prepare ourselves to succeed at the longer distance? Our society puts very little emphasis on training to be successful in the long term, but it is critical. 1 Corinthians 9:24 says:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Our culture has made quitting acceptable; too few people "run in such a way as to get the prize." We need to enter into marriage with a long view. we need to believe that finishing - growing old together, until death do you part - is the goal. We must have the mindset that quitting, i.e. divorce, is not an option. So how do we get there? Preparation is one key. Premarital counseling, having deep discussions about expectations, values, goals and dreams can help remove potential obstacles from the path. For some of us, it’s too late for that kind of “training.” We are already deep in. For us, how we “run the race” is our key to success. The big picture is often daunting to comprehend or even think about, especially when things are not going well. Bill Rancic, entrepreneur and TV personality said, "I think what a lot of marathon runners do is envision crossing that finish line; visualization is critical. But for me, I set a lot of little goals along the way to get my mind off that overwhelming 26.2 miles. I know I've got to get to 5, and 12, and 16 and then I celebrate those little victories along the way.
Setting short term goals is important. It’s hard to picture your fiftieth anniversary party in year two. Retirement seems a million miles away when the kids are teething. I think all too often in marriage we forget to celebrate the little things. Birthdays, anniversaries, maybe Valentine's day sure, those are expected. I think when we celebrate unexpected victories together though, they more dramatically feed our enthusiasm about being married. From small things to big things, find reasons to celebrate! One of you get a promotion? Have a night on the town together! Find twenty bucks in an old jacket? Go get ice cream! Kid make honor roll? Pay off a debt? Complete a home improvement project? Find a reason to mark all milestones with hugs and kisses, laughter and joy. Then look to the horizon together to identify the next target - and start working towards it.
When you take the time to reconnect at random intervals like this, you remember why you married each other. When spirits are high, it’s easy to see everything you saw in your spouse at the beginning. Also, it will be less likely that emotional drift occurs, years pass and suddenly you and your spouse feel you don’t know each other anymore. These moments of togetherness (and happiness) give you the chance to synchronize your dreams and goals, and the pace at which you are going. Hold hands and run, lock-step into your future.