As someone who has struggled with weight my entire life, I spend way more time in gyms than anyone would guess by looking at me. In an attempt to distract from the pain that I’m putting myself through at 5am on a daily basis, I spend a lot of time actively observing other people at the gym. I’ve noticed that there are two basic categories of people that frequent exercise facilities: 1) The small group of people who are incredibly fit, and 2) everyone else.
Determined to break my own monotonous gain/loss cycle, I’ve really been paying attention to the first group lately to try to figure out how they got to be so fit and how they maintain. What I’ve seen is characteristics which separate the two groups, that can be translated from how we take care of our bodies, to how we take care of our marriages.
Both marriage and fitness take work. Even if someone is genetically predisposed to being fit, as time drags on and age sinks in, without work, it becomes hard to maintain. The same is true in marriage. “The honeymoon phase is over” is something we have all heard because marriage gets harder as we get deeper into it.
Here’s what I’ve observed…
THEY DO THINGS THAT OTHER PEOPLE AREN’T DOING
I can get on a treadmill or elliptical for 60 minutes every day for the rest of my life, and I’ll have plenty of company, and my heart will probably last longer than if I stayed in bed. Or I can move from machine to machine in the order they were randomly placed on the floor and my body will still be sore the next day (clearly indicating hard work, right?).
But when I look up and see this other group of people, they’re doing things nobody else is doing. They’re doing burpees in the corner or push-ups with their feet resting 3 feet off the ground and clapping between each rep. They’re doing one exercise on one side of the gym then jogging to the treadmill to run 400 meter sprints, then racing to the other side of the gym to do something else.
When I watch these people, the lawyer in me wants to tell management that there are some serious liability concerns going on regardless of whatever worthless waiver the patrons signed. But the fat kid in me admires the drive and willingness to do whatever it takes to get what these people want.
The same hold true with marriage. The average person gets up, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, watches TV and goes to sleep at least 5 days a week. Conversations with your spouse happen sometime in between all of that and generally reflect the monotony of the day. But if you do what the average person does, then you’ll have what the average person has.
I’ll bet that when you walked down the aisle to marry your best friend, you weren’t thinking, “Man, I hope I have an incredibly average marriage.” And now you may be thinking, “How did it come to this? Where is the excitement? Where is the love that I had for this person?” You don’t see it because you haven’t worked for it.
Break the monotony and get off the treadmill and do something with your spouse that they never would expect. Read your vows to each other. Surprise her by taking her to the spot where you had your first date. Plan a weekend getaway. Put in writing what your spouse means to you and read it to each other…the more uncomfortable the act, the better your chances that you will see results.
THEY SHOW UP EVERY DAY BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT TO THEM
I see a lot of people at the gym between January 2 and March 1. Then I don’t see them until January 2 of the next year. I’m always jealous that these people were able to achieve their goals and meet their New Year’s Resolution so quickly…I’m still working on mine from 2007. I also see a lot of people who stagger in one or two days a week or every other week with no consistency. Not surprisingly, they don’t seem to get very good results.
But the fit people are there every day and putting in the work. It’s not that their baby sleeps better than mine, or that they don’t get overwhelmed with the stress of life, or don’t have giant to do lists. And it’s not that they wake up at 5am every single day ready to conquer the world. It’s that their health is a priority and they know that if they don’t put in the work, they won’t achieve their goals. Even if it’s a slow day, and no personal bests are made in the bench press, by moving forward they aren’t moving backward.
Is your marriage a priority? Is your marriage the number one most important thing in your life next to God? If not, why not? By making our spouse, and our marriage, our number one priority, we become focused on working on it every single day. We know that if we want tomorrow to be just a little bit better, then they have to show up today and let that be known to our spouse. Even if today isn’t the day our marriage explodes to the next level, by showing up and intentionally putting in the work, we’re ensuring that we’re not letting anything slip.
THEY WORK THROUGH AND OVERCOME SETBACKS
A few weeks ago I picked a friend up for lunch. He couldn’t drive because he had done something to his foot and was in a boot. I got a good laugh at his expense watching him hobble around. The next morning at 5am, there he was hobbling into the gym. I would have had no problem at all taking off for a few weeks and using the boot as an excuse…but I’m not that fit.
In marriage we’re going to have setbacks. The longer we’re married, the more setbacks we will have. But being successful in marriage means overcoming those setbacks and regaining focus on what’s important. An argument isn’t the end of the world. It’s an opportunity to solve a problem…to figure out how to avoid that same argument in the future. Anyone can give up at the first sign of struggle, but when your marriage is a priority, you’ll find a way to bring it back to better.
The only way to overcome setbacks in marriage is to work through them; talk about them and figure out a plan to avoid the same thing in the future. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to have new and unique disagreements…why keep fighting about the same thing. It may be that you need to put on a boot and start working around the immediate concern until you’ve given it the time to heal. But don’t avoid your marriage just because you’re hurt. Doing so will only cause greater setbacks that will be more difficult to overcome.
If you’re struggling, your marriage is worth saving. Marriage takes work, but it’s worth every drop of sweat and every tear that’s shed. Make your marriage and your spouse a priority and do things beyond what the average person is doing and be successful. Be present and act with intention toward your marriage and don’t give up when things get hard…marriage is hard. Pray with each other, and know that we are praying for you.
Written By: Sean Corcoran, Lake Charles, Louisiana Family Law Attorney