I recently gave my husband Greg, a new bicycle. We’ve always loved riding, but the bike he had gave him too many excuses to not join me on the road. So I fixed that! As a result, we’ve enjoyed some pretty spectacular sights around Southwestern Ontario and I’ve developed a few new insights to marriage that I’d like to share.
Insight #1 – He’s Not Like Me (and that’s ok)
Greg would have made a great addition to the cast on ‘Cheers’. His irrepressible humour, unique personality and enjoyment of kickin’ back at the local, noisy hangout would have been a perfect fit for the hit TV show. He likes busy, loud and engaging activity.
My personality is more like the scene from Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth twirls alone…..on a quiet swing……thinking. Her only interruption is to enter a meaningful conversation with a long-time friend. I like peaceful, quiet, meaningful activity.
You might think that our differences would make it impossible to enjoy leisure time together, but we have found a way. It’s a matter of developing an interest in what the other is interested in. So, when we bike……along a spectacular escarpment, through a tranquil pollination meadow or beside a winding river we always include a stop in an urban center to find the joint-du-jour where the tapas is creative and the music is loud. And that’s ok……for both of us.
Insight #2 – When The Road Is Steep, Create Small Wins
We were traveling in the Niagara region along part of the 1600kms of waterfront trails when the road became quite steep. By that time, I was tired and the temperature was nearing 30C. As I looked at the long incline ahead, the little energy I had left me. I wanted to abandon the journey.
Suddenly, about eight feet in front of me, a leaf caught my eye. I remember thinking ‘just get to that leaf, Elaine’. And I did. Quickly scanning the crushed stone road ahead, I noted another leaf and encouraged myself to reach it. Then I saw a tiny dandelion which became my next small milestone achieved. I heard my mind celebrating ‘yay……you’re making it.’ And I did!
I shared this story with a client the next week. We drew comparisons to the challenges inherent to every marriage. The uphill battles, the heat and fatigue and the loss of motivation when in a low spot. We identified the benefits of setting small wins and celebrating the achievement of them. (We also decided I should spend more time on my bike, as it helped to strengthen my counselling analogies! Ha ha!)
Insight #3 – Selfie The Journey Together
Marriage is not a destination to some place of bliss. It’s is a moment by moment experience. Like biking, marriage includes unforeseen twists, unforgettable turns, draining uphill climbs and breathtaking encounters.
In our selfie-obsessed culture, I’ve often wondered if it might be therapeutic to take a marriage-selfie of the day. Not just capturing the picture-perfect-smiles-you-post-on-social-media but also the raw, painful and unscripted moments, making it something to personally reflect upon later.
Our daughters gave my husband a selfie stick for his birthday that we now include in our regular biking equipment. We’ve determined to never reach the end of our biking day together, no matter our differences or how grueling the journey might have been, without posing for a marriage-selfie to reflect on the fact that ‘somehow, we found a way to do this day together.’