Marriage has been compared to everything from a marathon (you’re in it for the long run!) to a football game (it’s how you play as a team that counts!), but with the U.S. Open coming up next month, I’m reminded that it’s also like the game of golf.
You’re not going to play your best if you rush the round: you need to carve out a decent amount of time to give it your best shots. Similarly, you can’t have a vibrant marriage without making it a priority. Don’t think you can just squeeze it in around everything else. That means not getting too consumed by work, or allowing yourself to get too caught up in hobbies or other free time pursuits. And don’t just make room for the “business” of marriage—all those domestic responsibilities. How are you investing in your relationship? Do you have date nights regularly scheduled? Maybe reading about the 4 Powers of Couple Time will inspire you.
The same course plays differently each time because of so many variables—the condition of the grass, the weather, and your physical and mental shape. You must stay focused. In the same way, don’t just presume you can coast in your most important relationship. You need to be alert to your spouse’s mood and emotional well-being and your own. You have to be “on your game” every day. Being intentional says that you start each day wanting to invest more in your marriage. You strive to avoid these 4 Easy Mistakes People Make in Marriage.
Acknowledge your handicaps.
A perfect game is a rarity; we all have our weaknesses, even on our best days. Recognizing them in ourselves and in our spouse can help minimize their impact. We know that they may struggle in a certain area, so we look for ways to support and encourage them to do their best. And we own our own frailties, committing to improving ourselves, and seeking forgiveness when we need to. As a go-getter kind of person, I was rather impatient, at times, when Susan and I were first married. I wanted to get things done and get them done now! But over the years I have learned—and am still learning—to be more patient, and to accept that not everything has to be done my way and in my time.
Know your strengths.
Just as important as knowing where you need to work on things is being confident in and maximizing what you and your spouse each does well. In our case, Susan had a financial background, so she took on the responsibility of overseeing our finances. My life as an attorney with experience in the real estate world suited me better for dealing with big negotiations when it comes to things like buying a house or a car. These were not just practical divisions of labor, either—they made us more appreciative of each other, too.
Watch for traps.
Bunkers, rough ground, water… you can quickly find yourself in difficulties if you don’t play straight ahead. Trouble comes when you start to veer off the course. You begin to compare your marriage, or your spouse, unfavorably to others. You allow busyness to steal the time you need to be investing in your relationship, so you start to feel estranged. There’s the lure of false comforts elsewhere—hobbies, porn, unfaithfulness. Here is How to Create Moral Margin in Your Life to help make sure you stay on the straight and narrow.
Maintain the right mindset.
The right grip and a smooth swing are important, but many golf pros say that, ultimately, it’s more than just what you do with your hands or your hips—it’s more of a mind game than it is about technique. There’s truth to that when it comes to marriage, also. The way you view marriage will in large part determine how hard you work on it and how much you get to enjoy it. Do you get to call it quits when times are hard or are you committed to working things out and working through things? In this podcast, I discuss the three core truths of what marriage is. What you believe about marriage will determine how you behave in marriage.
As you evaluate your marriage “game” how would you score yourself, and your spouse, on these six things? Why not ask them to evaluate themselves, and you, and share your scores with each other in a light-hearted conversation that aims to raise your game! Then, share your comments below.