Is your marriage perfect? I can’t say that of mine. Very often, we are insensitive to each other’s feelings. Words fly out of our mouth before we process it in our head. Assumptions and biases take root and fester and blow out of proportion before we clarify those assumptions. Differences in personality and little idiosyncrasies that used to be cute and quirky before marriage now seem irritating. Stress and fatigue overtake good manners and graciousness.
An example I remember was in the early part of our marriage. There was one night when I was pouring out my heart-felt woes of work to my husband, and in the midst of it, he fell asleep. He was genuinely tired. I was genuinely upset… that he fell asleep while I was talking. He is a morning person, I come alive at night. I assumed he was not interested in what I had to say. Of course you can imagine what proceeded after that.
The realities of married life hit you the moment you say “I do” and it is nothing like what you imagined. What makes some marriages work while others breakdown? Is it because of compatible personalities as opposed to opposites? Is it about one person giving in to another? Some marriages continue in name but foster a persistent wound in the relationship. Some don’t even see the need for marriage. The postmodern culture advocates moral relativism, relationships that benefit self the most, choices and options, freedom of sexuality.
In this season of the Olympics, it would do us well to glean some parallels from great Olympic teams for marriage.
- Athletes have a single-minded commitment and focus towards a goal.
The moment we make our marriage vows, it is a single-minded commitment till death do us part.
- Athletes learn how to improve their skill through discipline, training, and practice.
The marriage relationship between husband and wife is no different. Two different individuals also need to learn how to love each other in action and words. This takes practice.
- Athletes have passion for their sport.
Discipline and determination can get you started. But it is passion that sustains. The passion here I’m talking about is not sexual desires; but a conviction or devotion to something. In this case: the marriage relationship.
- Athletes train together, play together, and celebrate triumphs together.
Time must be carved out to do things together.
- Different people have different roles to play and everyone’s effort in the team matters.
Be it hockey, volleyball, basketball or even gymnastics, everyone has a different role to play and does it to the best of their ability to bring up the team score. Team members exercise mutual respect and leverage on each other’s strengths. The marriage relationship is no different. Couples should not be competing with each other, but working together.
- Athletes have a mentor.
In the sporting world, athletes have mentors. In the business world, professionals also have mentors. Why not in marriage? As a newlywed, I would have appreciated if I had a marriage mentor who could share their personal experiences with my husband and me, someone trusted to share my frustrations or get advice from.
Families start from the basic unit of one male and one female – the husband and wife. That’s why the marriage relationship between husband and wife is so important. After being married for ten years, I realize that marriage is not as easy as apple pie; but neither is it frightful or arduous. It is a journey with my husband with whom I can say (borrowing the words of poet Robert Browning) “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be…”