My husband has 2 pet peeves about us as a couple. We can never order the same thing at a restaurant and we can’t go out of the house wearing the same thing. You might think who would? My husband and I are runners so we race a lot and belong to the same track club so we have a number of identical shirts. I believe my husband would stop at a mall to buy a new shirt before we would show up at a restaurant in matching couple attire. At that restaurant there is a moment of tense silence before one of us declares what we will order, for fear the other one has eyed the same thing.
I guess this could be annoying. It is just one of those things we have learned to laugh at, by that I mean I make relentless fun of it and he politely chuckles along at his own foibles. Long relationships require an even deeper sense of humor. We have been together for 25 years and lived together for the last 24. If you had asked me 7 years ago if I knew my husband I would have said absolutely. But for his 45th birthday he made one request. ” I want you to run one race with me. That is what I want for my birthday.” He might just as effectively asked me to give him a trip around the world, the latter seeming more likely. My husband is an athlete, a naturally talented, but also hard-working athlete. He has played: soccer, basketball, done track, etc. Me on the other hand, I believe I still hold the record at my high school for the slowest timed mile all 4 years of school. I say this not to brag, but to set the scene for this request. Yet somehow, following several colorful expletives, I found myself in running shoes at a 5K on his birthday. Where I promptly declared “take a good look, this is the last time you will ever see me run.” To check how “alterative” that fact was, see first paragraph.
Besides gaining a sense that I could do more than I thought I could, running has taught me so much about myself, my husband, and my marriage. The first thing I learned was during that very first race. My husband is someone who can be counted on, and who shows up. He started that race with me and my painfully slow 12 minute mile until he was convinced I would be fine. He went to finish his race and as I was about a 1/2 mile from finishing something I thought impossible; he came out of nowhere and ran me in, full of support. He would demonstrate that support over and over as I pursued longer distances and he waited in blazing heat and freezing weather to meet at the last mile of half marathons and run me in. He ran his first half last December and even though I was two months into rehabbing platars fasciitis, I was there following him and I ran him in the last mile.
I have learned I am stronger than I thought and that most challenges may feel physically impossible, but are really a mental game. Hence meditation has helped my running and my ability to handle challenges. Watching my husband who is a streak runner, not that! Get your mind out of the gutter, he runs everyday at least a mile. He has demonstrated his uncompromising ability to commit. Today is day 1275 of his current streak. It really just underscored what I already knew. Believe it or not, I am not always easy to live with or totally delightful. Yet he stays, all the time he makes the choice to stay. I guess I am his marriage streak or his mental tolerance streak or maybe both. My husband is a bastion of commitment, and no matter how much I have tried over the years to throw him off his game he just comes back fighting harder for our marriage.
Lastly, running is a living metaphor of our marriage. We often run together. If you don’t do that regularly you might not appreciate how hard it actually is. You have to tune in totally to your partner at that moment. Everyday every run is different. When one partner is strong and the other weak, tired, or injured there is a real-time adjustment. One of you has to sacrifice your run to encourage the other to finish strong. I always say in the best marriages the partners make strong the broken parts in each other. That is never more evident than when you are running together. We are older now and we find that we “race” less, we still go but the competitive edge has worn off. Now we run with the hard-earned synchronicity of 25 years of alternating between leading and lagging. It is a fun ride.