Marriage: The Three Legged Marathon

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Last night I was talking to my husband. I compared marriage to a three legged race and told him I picked the best partner for it. After thinking about it some more, I realized my analogy was good but not perfect. In a three legged race, you are strapped on to someone else’s leg and have to work together to successfully finish the race. The more you work together, the faster you can move. The problem with my analogy is that marriage isn’t a sprint. You don’t just work together for a few minutes to win this race. Marriage is a marathon.

3 legged raceCan you imagine running a three legged race marathon?? It’s easy to get frustrated with your partner in a short three legged race. Maybe they are faster than you or taller. Maybe they step in a hole and stumble, pulling you down with them or at least slowing your progress. Maybe “inside leg, outside leg” is a pattern they just can’t grasp. There are a lot of things that go wrong for these racers. That’s what makes them so entertaining to watch! If you can run into those problems during a sprint, what else could possibly go wrong in a marathon? Endurance differences, inability to handle changes in terrain or climate, injury…plus all the other issues!

In a marriage these things could be likened to partners having different strengths, to stumbling over challenges such as job loss or difficult children or personal vices, to the inability to see things from each other’s viewpoint, to one person giving up on working through relationship problems, to moving or other significant changes, or to emotional injuries. How we handle these different challenges will determine how well we do in the race. The winners aren’t those that never stumble but those that get back up and keep going. In a three legged marathon, I can guarantee that everyone will have at least one significant challenge. Some couples sit down at that point, untie themselves and go different directions. The ones that finish the race find a way to help each other up or over or through whatever comes up. And yes, you might get frustrated and yes it might seem easier to quit sometimes but it isn’t.

While I was in college I took a class on family relationships. One thing that stuck with me through all these years was a statistic. I don’t remember the exact numbers (maybe we never learned them) but I remember the general idea. Some researchers surveyed couples who worked through their marriage and some couples that decided on divorce. Then they surveyed them over the next couple of years. Most of the people who opted for divorce were significantly less happy 5 years later. Of the couples that worked it out, most were significantly happier after the same 5 years. Now this didn’t say ALL were unhappy or ALL were happy. I understand that sometimes divorce is the right choice. But very often, people quit on a partner for stumbling too often or being too tall.

I’m tied to the best partner I could ask for but that doesn’t mean I never get frustrated with him any more than he never gets frustrated with me. But we work together to get through it. We might have to sometimes chant “inside, outside” until we can get on the same groove again. We might have to adjust the rope. We might even have to slow down sometimes. But we never untie ourselves. We never look around for a partner we might like better. We never sabotage each other. We committed to this race together and we’ll finish it together.

And the best part of this being a marathon? You have a lot of time to figure out a groove that works for you. You have plenty of time to make up for mistakes. And you don’t have to reach the finish line first to win. So happy racing! Good luck and have fun with it. That’s why you signed up isn’t it?

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10 thoughts on “Marriage: The Three Legged Marathon

  • April 18, 2016 at 11:39 am
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    I love the comparison you draw here. And I agree with the study you mentioned, people so often feel like putting because their partner is too tall or stumbles and we need to remember that marriage is made up of more than just a couple stumbles.

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    • April 18, 2016 at 2:31 pm
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      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad others see it the same way!

      Reply
  • April 18, 2016 at 12:29 pm
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    Love this! Yes, no matter the partner there will always be issues. You just gotta keep going and work them out. The next person would have just as many flaws so why give up on all the precious memories and time put in! Thanks for sharing.

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    • April 18, 2016 at 2:33 pm
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      Exactly!! And well put! Thanks for stopping in.

      Reply
  • April 18, 2016 at 12:53 pm
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    I love your analogy to marriage being a marathon. Too many people think of it as a race. The statistic you learned is really interesting. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  • April 18, 2016 at 1:42 pm
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    Love this article and I think that study makes a ton of sense!! Marriage is hard and there will constantly be things that you need to work through together, the easy part is giving up and the hard part is working through it! Great share!

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    • April 18, 2016 at 2:32 pm
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      Thanks for the comment. I always try to remember “5 years from now” when I’m frustrated or angry with my husband. 🙂

      Reply
  • April 18, 2016 at 2:39 pm
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    Love this! So true! Marriage can be tough but I’ve found being married to your best friend makes it easier. 🙂 This month we will be married for 5 years and together for 10 years! lol Doesn’t feel like it.

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    • April 18, 2016 at 7:18 pm
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      Hey! We just hit 5 years married too! Congratulations.

      Reply

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