An intense workout like the popular P90X routines of infomercial fame are not for the faint of heart. They’re tough; they require a great deal from you, but they offer great results. Come to think of it, they’re a lot like marriage…
My husband has been doing a DVD workout called P90X for several months. You’ve probably seen the infomercials for it on TV. He’s gotten great results from the workouts, but man—is it intense! Definitely not for the uncommitted.
As I’ve watched him workout and listened to the instructions of the leader on the DVD, it has occurred to me that there are at least 5 Marriage Lessons from P90X. For instance: when you’ve picked up his dirty clothes for the 9,000th time “you gotta dig deep and push!!!” to do it yet again, and when it’s time to sit down and come to a compromise on the family budget “you gotta want it!! let’s go!! no pain, no gain!!”
1. You need to stretch and warm up.
If you jump straight into an intense workout without first stretching and warming up your muscles, you risk serious injury. You have to get your body in the right state to be able to benefit from the workout without doing more harm than good. In the same way, we need to take care of our individual hearts and minds before tackling tough challenges in marriage. So how do you warm up for a marriage challenge? With prayer and contemplation. Before you sit down to talk with your husband about a tough issue, make sure your heart and mind are in the right place, and seeking the right things. When both parties do this, you can solve the toughest of problems without creating additional conflict or stress.
2. The stuff worth having is hard work.
Want six-pack abs? You’ll have to work for it—not just once, but with consistency and discipline over a long period of time. Want a great marriage? You’ll have to work for that, too. It will require the self-discipline to put your spouse’s needs first, to manage your expectations, and to approach the relationship with a selfless maturity. Not just once in a while—but with consistency over time. Sure, everyone has a bad day and misses the mark occasionally. But your life, like your workout routine, should look pretty consistent overall to expect great things.
3. Some days are just going to seem harder.
Some days you pop in that workout DVD, and a few minutes into it, you’re sweating and working hard but it feels…good! Other days, for reasons no one can really explain, the exact same workout feels like it will never end. Your marriage can be the same way: so easy and fulfilling for a season, and inexplicably tough for another. But our response should be the same in both instances—just suck it up and power through. Why? Because we know the discomfort is temporary, but the benefits are life-long. And you will make it back to a good place—just stay with it and give it time!
4. Don’t compare yourself to the people around you.
Whether you’re watching a professionally produced workout DVD, or in a class at the gym, don’t get hung up on looking at the people around you. Just because you don’t yet look exactly like super-fit Ms. Size 6 in the row in front of you doesn’t mean you aren’t benefitting and moving in the right direction. In the same way, just because you see other marriages that seem much happier (And remember—things aren’t always as they appear. You really don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.) it doesn’t mean that your marriage is less-than. It may just be different, or in a different chapter of the marriage journey.
5. You’ll never regret doing it when it’s over.
We’ve all had that moment after a tough workout where we think, “Have mercy—that was tough. But I’m so glad I did it.” You never regret doing the hard work where your physical health is concerned, and you’ll never regret the work you pour into your marriage. I’ve never heard a divorced person say, “I wish I hadn’t tried so hard.” To the contrary, you often hear divorced people lament that they didn’t try a little harder when they had the chance. Live your marriage without regrets, in good times and bad.
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.