Do you want an awesome marriage that goes the distance or a mediocre marriage that can’t quite make it up the hill like an out-of-shape runner? That’s a silly question, right? Who would actually admit to being OK with a mediocre marriage?
When my husband and I buy a TV or toaster oven, we like to save money, so “good enough” is usually good enough. But when building a strong marriage, we know that “good enough” is never enough.
The best marriages are the “all in” marriages. It’s a familiar concept, and we apply it to many facets of daily life like sports and business. A person who is “all in” bets everything he has, all his resources, all his time, all on one goal. Win or lose.
The Olympic games produced so many extraordinary examples of that “all in” kind of commitment. Thousands of athletes come together to show the fruits of their years of hard work.
Those athletes are living examples of what it means to be “all-in.” They have made tremendous sacrifices to be where they are—they have given up many of their needs, wants, and desires to reach a specific kind of goal.
In our marriage, Eric and I strive to display the kind of words, behaviors, and attitudes that point to a “rest of our lives” sort of relationship. Just like an athlete who trains every day for the gold, we’ve adopted our own workout plan to make our marriage go the distance.
Though this list isn’t exhaustive, here are six steps that we use to build a “for life” marriage:
1. We’re willing to make necessary sacrifices. Sometimes, a career or a dream may have to be set aside permanently or for a time. It’s the nature of love to give. And sometimes that means giving up something your really want for a greater goal. Even if it means being the first to make a sacrifice or serve the other, acts of sacrifice will set you apart in the game of marriage.
2. We don’t treat divorce like an option. When a marriage needs help, there are many resources out there like counseling and seeking sound advice. But for Eric and me, divorce is never allowed at our negotiating table, not even as a spectator. (Please note: In cases where physical or emotional abuse are present, divorce or separation may be necessary to ensure the safety and protection of a spouse and/or children.)
3. We continue to make plans for the future. As a couple, we sit down and discuss what the next five or six decades will look like. Where do you want to be as a couple? What goals do you want to achieve together?
4. We try to keep in mind that commitment, not emotion, should lead the way. We all go through hard times in our marriages, but we can’t let feelings govern our actions. Our actions should, instead, lead our feelings to a better place. Sometimes, I just have to show my emotions who’s boss!
5. We understand that commitment is a decision and decisions, by nature, cut out other competing elements. When we decided to pledge our love to each other, we decided not to allow anyone or anything to compete for that love.
6. We mark time for ‘me’ time. Finding time to do the things we love (apart from each other) helps strengthen our emotional reserves which give us additional strength and clarity to pour into our marriage. We are physical beings and we all need opportunity to rejuvenate.
Those Olympic athletes didn’t strive all those years just to get a free ticket to Rio! Their goal was to show the world that they are the best. They wanted their years of sacrifice and pain to pay off in front of a universal audience.
Eric and I are striving to make our marriage “the best” it can possibly be–we’re “all in.” And here’s some great news: If you go “all in” with your spouse, you’re far more likely to have an awesome marriage than you are to make the next US Olympic Team—the statistics are in your favor!!
Photo Credit: Flickr/Micah Camara