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Posts Tagged ‘momentum’

I’ve developed a hobby over the last two winters. Since it is cold most of the winter months here, I’ve caved to my love of running and purchased a gym membership. Although surrounded by a wide variety of interesting machines, over ninety percent of my time at the gym I spend not going anywhere, yet getting completely exhausted. Yes, the dreaded treadmill.

Outside running has the advantages of a changing landscape, non-programmed hills, and the anticipation of arriving at a destination (not to mention the air smells way better, too). Inside running gets you nowhere. Outside, there’s much to enjoy on the journey and the free flow of thought inspired by your surroundings and progress is rewarding in itself. Inside, running seems repetitive and exhausting.

As I was nearing the end of my treadmill run the other day, it dawned on me that the ONLY reason one would run on a treadmill is if they were aware of the unseen benefits: the increased circulation, the increasing fitness of heart and body, and the many and varied benefits of physical exercise. And I can’t forget to mention the increased stamina and enthusiasm you develop for running again outside when the seasons shift. (I can’t wait!)

Treadmill running is exactly like enduring the difficult days, months or seasons in a marriage. Doing the right things, choosing the right attitudes, forgiving repeat offenses – these are the steps and strides of life where there’s no immediate sense of accomplishment or joy in the journey, where the benefits are internal and won’t be realized until the season changes. If you’re in tricky times in your relationship, this is happening NOW.

Interestingly, perhaps unlike other avid outdoor runners, I’ve started to love running on a treadmill. Instead of the landscape, I have numbers to help me see my growth: miles run, calories burned, inclines conquered. These readings reveal what’s going on in the unseen, and my choice to keep going and embrace the workout spurs the numbers higher. Winning the unseen is indeed an invigorating challenge and a joy. What’s more, spring time is coming, and I’ll be ready to pick up where I left off at the end of last fall.

In your marriage, embrace the opportunities to build character in every season. And when it’s a “winter” season for you, keep on “running.” You can even start to enjoy winning the unseen, for you will guarantee a shift in your seasons to something better.

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Downhill

In our last post we talked about changing the terrain of your relationship. That is, focusing on the larger and more deeply ingrained issues in yourself that hinder your success, rather than focusing on trying harder to do all the right things, or being better at the ones you’re doing, or looking endlessly for the magic key to marital harmony – ie. working uphill. Instead, the challenge is to find out how to remove the reason you’re having to work so hard in the first place.

This kind of focus requires a long hard look at yourself. Questions like, “What do I do that makes me less easy to love?” and, “What do I bring to the table of our relationship that is really hindering the growth of our romance?” or, “What character traits, behavioural traits, comments, fears, and insecurities do I have that are not helping us to get where we want to go?” See, if you and I would work on those things in our relationship – the things that hinder our success – our other efforts in love would go so much further.

In fact, it would be like riding a bike downhill. The issue would be more one of balance, direction and fun, rather than fatigue or boredom or exhaustion. Remember early dating days? Before you found out all the not-so-great things about each other? Kind of crazy days, weren’t they? The romance ran your life instead of vice-versa. It had a momentum of its own and any negatives in your relationship seemed small enough.

So do what it takes to create some mementum. For example, if my wife needs a certain amount of financial security to be happy, then me doing what it takes to be able to provide that is just smart and would have huge rewards for both of us. Downhill. If a wife curbs her tendency to undermine her hubby in front of friends, and instead praises him publicly, would there even be any chores at home left to nag about? Downhill. Men, you known this: it’s extremely difficult (well, maybe impossible) to try to connect for twenty minutes in bed if you haven’t cared enough before that to share your world with her, and to understand hers. Definitely uphill. Turn that around, re-prioritize your time and spend it connecting with her in the kitchen, on a long walk, or sharing some other form of fun together. Now try the bedroom connect. Downhill!

If you want to feel what it’s like to have that momentum again, take the long, hard look at yourself. Ask the difficult questions (you could start with, “Honey, is there anything I could change to make it easier to live with me?”) and make the difficult decision to do something about it. And take the brakes off your relationship once and for all.

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Your marriage is going somewhere to happen! Question is, where is that?

[Aside: At CoupleThings we operate from the basis of 4 core beliefs. These belief-statements are a nutshell version of what we believe about love and marriage. (Find them here.) In an earlier post we dealt with our 1st of those beliefs (See post here: Better Forever) and now, here are some thoughts on the second, which is:

“To do things right in a relationship the first time is the best time. It’s far greater than damage control, and playing catch up later. Make your early years together a great foundation.”]

We’ve found that a relationship has much to do with momentum. It’s always moving, developing, “going somewhere to happen,” and it’s doing so in a certain direction. Even when your relationship feels like a cycle, it’s really a spiral – going up or down towards somewhere. This direction of our relationship is a function of our choices and actions.

Don’t confuse this with your hopes of where you would like your relationship to be, or your dreams of marriage bliss, or even your intentions to get somewhere good in your love-life. Rather, know this: momentum and where that takes you is determined solely by choices and actions.

It amazes me that we have more instructions given to us when we buy a new toaster than we do when we buy a marriage license! The overriding assumption seems to be that love and marriage are natural states that should evolve and be perfect. And if they’re not, “I guess we weren’t meant to be…”

But a relationship is far more like building a house in that you need a solid foundation, or like learning a sport where you need coaching to be really great, or like growing a garden where a few insights from the experts go a long way. To build a foundation well the first time, to learn the right technique in a sport, and to treat a delicate plant correctly THE FIRST TIME is clearly the best time. So too, in a relationship – to handle it right, from the start, is the best way to go.

I knew a woman in her seventies, who, looking back on a long life that had included a divorce, said to me, “If we had known how to communicate, and build a relationship, or what to do when things weren’t going well, we would have made it. The problem is we never knew.”

Today the problem in our relationships is not lack or availability of information and know-how, but rather the follow-through to apply it. The issue then is only one of desire, for the information, the to-do’s of successful relationships is readily available.

We can do things correctly early on in our relationship. We can put actions and choices behind our desire for a successful marriage. Let’s not wait until we need help because we are on the brink of crisis, but rather get input, ideas, and wisdom now.

Make your relationship go somewhere great by steering it towards there starting now.

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