The 2016 Rio Olympics have come to a close and for those who have watched, we have been inspired by seeing the fruits of the Olympians’ years of preparation and labor. What can we learn from Olympians to inspire our pursuit of a “Gold Medal Marriage”?
- Olympians work at it every day. They daily-discipline themselves to do what they ought to do, not what they want to do. In marriage that may mean holding our tongue, doing the dishes, or actively listening to each other.
- Olympians build on each other’s strengths. Synchronized swimming teams identify who is the best person to do the lifting and who is the best person to be lifted. Once those roles are identified, the coach trains each person to excel in their role. What are your strengths? What are your partner’s strengths? Have you defined roles and responsibilities to align with each other’s strengths?
- Olympians work through injuries and setbacks. When I got married, the pastor who gave the homily used the image of a supersized eraser to point out the number of times we would need to forgive each other and to forgive ourselves. There is nothing quite like marriage to help us learn who we really are, warts and all. The problem isn’t so much that we have “warts.” What matters is what we do with them; how we overcome our “injuries and setbacks.”
- Olympians cheer on their teammates. I think this is especially evident in beach volleyball. After every point, the teammates encourage each other! Have you encouraged your partner today?
- Olympians know when to take a time out to refuel, reset, or take a break. Learn more about taking a time out in your relationship here.
- Olympians unite as a team to defeat their opponent. How often do we position our partner as our opponent, rather than the issue, tension, or difference?
- Olympians don’t work alone. They get a coach and/or train as a team. When Marta Karolyi became the Team USA Gymnastics coach, she pivoted the focus of the program from training gymnasts who would win individual medals to building an Olympic gymnastics team who would win the team gold. She nurtured relationships between the team members and invested in relationships with individual gymnast’s primary coaches. Her philosophy was that when the team did well, the individuals would do well. The 2016 USA gymnastics team won team gold and then went on to win eight individual medals! Are you on your spouse’s team? If not, who or what can you find to help you get on the same team with your spouse? A book? An assessment? A pastor? A relational coach? A counselor? A marriage small group?
- Olympians don’t give up. Did you know there was a 41 year old gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, in the 2016 Rio Olympics? Or that the oldest Olympian, Oscar Swahn of Sweden, is 72 years old? Or that Novlene Williams-Mills from Jamaica was diagnosed with breast cancer just before the 2012 Olympics and came back to win a silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Olympians don’t give up! Keep picturing what you really want in your marriage. Maybe even write it down. Talk with your partner about what a Gold Medal Marriage looks like to you and find out what it looks like to them.
Recently I watched a news story about a father who became the parent of a Downs Syndrome baby. The clip closed with, “It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.” Isn’t that true for much of life? “It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.” Keep pressing on to have a Gold Medal Marriage!