Keepin’ Love Alive: They Walk?!
Recently I chatted with people who completed the Monument Marathon. Surprising, many of them didn’t look like marathon runners to me. Somewhat fascinated, I was curious how they ran 26 miles.
No matter how you cut it, 26 miles is a long way to run. When I think about driving, that’s almost half an hour of driving at 60 mph. How can anyone run for that long? Certainly not me.
To my naive surprise, I learned that many of them didn’t run the whole time; some took long breaks and walked. Later online I read about training strategies that actually teach you to use a combination of running and walking.
Surprisingly, some of those I talked with who did look like marathon runners, and who have completed many marathons, used this run-walk strategy consistently. Some of them even swore it helps them to finish faster than trying to run the whole time!
I never thought I would be fit enough to run a marathon. That level of fitness and exercise was reserved for those who trained hard in mind, body, exercise, and even diet. Never would I be disciplined enough to run 26 miles.
However, now that my naive mind has been opened, I’ve realized any of us can complete a marathon. Some people interested in just finishing, in fact, will walk the whole time. And yet walk, run, or crawl, you’ve still finished a marathon at the end of the day.
This misconception of having to run the whole time always kept me from even thinking a marathon was possible to complete. But now that I know better, perhaps next year I’ll sign up and complete my first marathon, one way or another.
Similarly, I hear misconceptions about healthy marriages all the time. These misconceptions keep people from entering relationships or even enjoying the one they have now.
One popular misconception is that couples must have common interests. While it may be fun to have common interests, that doesn’t mean that a couple will be happy if they do and miserable if they don’t.
Each week sports teams and their fans get together to compete against each other. Although they all share the common interest of the same sport, they certainly do not all get along.
Rather than worrying about common interests, worry more about how you get along about any interest. My wife loves crafts and I love cars. Different interests, yet we get along well around those interests; I support her in her crafts, and she supports me in my cars.
People also believe that fighting is bad. Interestingly, there is no correlation between fighting and an unhappy marriage. Some of the most miserable couples don’t fight at all.
The key is not if they fight, but how they fight. Learning to be respectful when addressing your differences goes a long way. As I often say, attack the problem, not the person.
Finally, most people do not need to come to therapy to learn how to communicate. We have all been successfully communicating for decades and we have been doing a fine job of it.
Instead, most people need to change their circumstances so they can communicate better. I can’t believe how often someone tells me about a terrible fight they had and it starts with the words “We were drinking.”
Similarly, trying to resolve your differences when you’re already tired, overwhelmed and stressed doesn’t set up the right environment to have a good conversation. In times like that, it may be smarter to go to bed early and deal with the problem when you’re both well rested and feeling better.
Just like you don’t have to run 26 miles to complete a marathon, you don’t have to be perfect to be perfectly in love. Most couples, like most who complete marathons, are just good enough.
So whether you run, walk, or crawl your way to your next anniversary, don’t worry about being perfect. Sometimes there’s hills, valleys, and even mud puddles. And sometimes you may even stop to cry.
But in marathons and love alike, don’t let the misconceptions make you think you’re not good enough to compete and finish strong with a smile on your face. At the end of the day, you’ve still kept love alive when you use the strategies above.
For more tips on keepin’ love alive visit www.panhandlecouples.com.
Remember, couple relationships are easier than you think, but harder than you act.
Mark Anderson is a mental health therapist specializing in couples therapy at Oregon Trail Mental Health in Scottsbluff. To contact him call 635-2800 or visit online at www.panhandlecouples.com