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Marriage is Hard: Marriage is Like a Three Legged Race

Updated on September 19, 2013

The Word Picture

My mind connects and learns and describes in visual ways. Want to know a strong visual I’ve been thinking a lot about lately?

I think marriage is like a 3 Legged race. Wrap your head around this visual with me for a minute.

You and your spouse are linked… part you, part him/her. You still have some freedom and individuality too (remember, one leg is linked, one leg remains free). You and your spouse are working toward goals in marriage and life. Goals like oneness, connectedness, effective parenting. These aren’t easy things to accomplish and maintain, whether doing them alone or together. When you are married, you are, through better and worse, a partner with the one you married.

Let’s look at what it’s like when you are in-step, working together. You are connected. You are in constant communication. You are open to making adjustments. You are willing to take risks together. You are committed to the same goals. You are willing to help the other. You are determined to work together to find a way to stand back up and continue when you fall down. You are sometimes the weaker one, sometimes the stronger one. You are choosing to move forward. You are being flexible. You are united.

Now, consider when things get out of sync. You become impatient or demanding. You are working more selfishly than selflessly. You are not considering the other person as an equal or important part of the team. You may have a different goal or pace as your partner. You or your spouse or both of you fall down.

My husband and I are sometimes gloriously united, skipping, jumping, giggling, running toward goals and dreams. Wow, this is a beautiful thing. It isn't always pretty looking in form, but it is beautiful in its results- forward movement, connectedness.

Sometimes, we are out of sync though. Stress, selfishness, fatigue, can trip us up, get us in a funky rhythm. We can feel the difference, just like you can feel the difference if you are in a 3 legged race and things go awry. Things are shaky. Things don’t feel right. One or both of us keep falling on our faces, feeling defeated, annoyed, frustrated. We may even be pulling in different directions. And sometimes, whether we'd like to admit it or not, we may even be wishing we weren't linked to each other because tackling the circumstance alone might seem easier in the heat of the moment.

Hang in there. Keep with it. Communicate. Choose to work together, even against the odds.

I believe marriage isn't designed to be easy. Sure, there should be some easy parts to it, but let's face it. Life's hard. Two imperfect people trying to work together on common goals is not easy stuff. It's not for the fainthearted. It's not for the wimpy. It's not for the self centered. But going through the hard stuff it's where true love is forged, and it is where you and your spouse are transformed. The hard parts are the revealing places, the turning points, the beautiful messes where you've made a conscious decision to keep going and keep together against the odds. It's where you've had real life fork in the road moments where you've decided to change and adjust for the better of the other, for the best of your marriage, for the best of the team.

Marriage is a journey toward oneness and a journey toward growth. How are we to grow if we are not made to work on our areas of weakness? How are we to learn, if not given the opportunity to fall? How are we to grow closer to each other, if not given the circumstances where the other is all we have to lean on? The three legged race is a good one for us.

Marriage isn't designed to be a self-serving arrangement, it is a partnership. And, just like getting into a rhythm in a 3 legged race, it's going to take a whole lot of communication, forgiveness, and endurance to pull it off.

The Best is Yet to Come

Your wedding day was, no doubt, a special and happy day. Your marriage should be and can be a marvelous union for decades. Communication, endurance, forgiveness, and patience will be key as you find your rhythm together and keep moving in similar stride. Over the years you will change and he will change too. Keep this in mind and consider adjustments as part of the process of getting to know each other more deeply, and loving without conditions.

Your wedding day was a good day, but the best days are still to come.

Further Thoughts on Keeping Your Love Strong

Perhaps you are feeling stuck. Here are some ideas and links that may be helpful in reviving your love.

1. Watch your wedding video or look through wedding pictures.

This can be done together or by yourself. Looking through the pictures or watching the video of your wedding can help bring back some of those mushy gooshy happy feeling from that day. Perhaps it will give you a glimpse also of the reasons why you chose to marry your spouse.

2. Rent a romantic comedy.

Romantic comedies, the good ones at least, are superb at putting a humorous twist on real life issues and comment problems that couples face. Perhaps watching a funny movie together will remind you that some issues in marriage are not as bad as you think they are. Laughing out loud or laughing with someone is a therapeutic way of releasing your emotions also.

3. YouTube has a variety of comedians who have given full speeches on the topic of marriage. Browse the topic and find a few of your favorites. You could even link them in a message to your husband or wife with a statement such as, "And we thought we were the only ones who had problems."

4. Read over some inspiring quotes about marriage or perseverance. You could write some of your favorites out on notecards and reread them when you need a pick-me-up. Or you could share with your spouse the ones which seemed most meaningful to you, the ones which matched your emotions or dreams.

5. Make lists. Sometimes lists are the simplest and fastest ways to get thoughts from rattling around in your brain to actually being understood. Lists help you organize your thoughts. Once better organized about what you are thinking and feeling, you will be better equipped to share openly with your spouse.

Sample lists you might consider making:

-Reasons Why I Married My Husband/My Wife

-Marriage means.....

-Issues we have already become united on and tackled together

-Topics I'm frustrated about in our marriage

-Topics I'd like to discuss more in depth with my husband/wife

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