Every marriage needs friendship as part of its foundation, and friendship is developed through times of adversity, achievement, and fun.
The wind was freezing one February morning in downtown Dallas as we ran by the Cotton Bowl stadium in our first ever 15K fun run. My wife, Rachael, and I had trained for months to be able to complete a race like this without walking. We loved working outtogether but had never attempted running long distances. We entered into training with two goals…run the entire race without stopping and stick together. It seemed simple enough. The beginning of the race was exciting, fun, and pleasant as we conversed about what we saw around us in order to keep our breathing calm and steady.
We had never been to this part of the city and it was fun to explore the skyscrapers and new neighborhoods. As the miles stacked up we took turns encouraging each other and keeping a doable pace. We were positive, uplifting, and having a blast…that is, until mile 8. With only one mile to finish, our run had devolved into a weak jog and our words of encouragement had turned into pants of desperation. We were near the finish line when I looked up to see a photographer aiming his camera at us for a glorious action shot of our race finish.
With renewed energy, I reached over to hold and lift up my wife’s hand in a sign of unity and victory as we were mere moments away from completing our goal together as a team! I expected this picture would be an everlasting symbol of our love and determination to overcome adversity as a team. The moment was here, but when I reached over for my wife’s hand I felt her tug it away and push my hand saying, “What are you doing?!”
She hadn’t seen the photographer and didn’t know my grand plans for a victory shot to inspire all who saw it. On the contrary, she was focused on the race and struggling to finish that last hard mile. I was too out-of-breath to explain at the time, but it all became clear when we received our racing pictures. All we could do was laugh hysterically at the series of pictures showing me smiling at the camera, her swiping my hand, and then me looking back at her in confusion. The photographer had caught the entire exchange in perfect timing. To this day, we laugh every time we remember or retell the story. It’s times like these that deepen relationships. Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
Every marriage needs friendship as part of its foundation, and friendship is developed through times of adversity, achievement, and fun. Few activities provide as much adversity, achievement, and fun as exercise can. Exercise, by definition, is movement for the purpose of achieving fitness, but exercise can achieve so much more than that! Exercise can include outdoor exploration, team-building, soul-searching, and fun-having. When we exercise with others we are building memories, creating stories, and sharing in adversity together to achieve one common goal. In addition to all of this, when we exercise with our spouse we are building friendship, intimacy, and romance. By nature, we love to play.
Remember, as a child, how we would meet a friend and just play. No plans, no schedule, no worries about tomorrow…just play. Exercise can become a type of play. For some, play begins with a walk. For others, play may be climbing a mountain. For most, it’s somewhere in between. Whatever your “play” is as a couple, incorporate movement and call it exercise. Before you know it, you’ll be improving your health and your marriage together!