Gold Medal in Marriage

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The other night, my husband and I joined the rest of the world in watching the Olympics. The sport at the time happened to be swimming, so you can imagine who was on the camera and being spoken about- Michael Phelps. He started out the 4×200 relay and gave his team a lead that was unbelievable. We watched in astonishment when my husband said “I wonder why he’s so much better than most others. It’s not like everyone else doesn’t train as hard.” That prompted a discussion about natural talent. We decided that Michael Phelps probably just has a touch more natural talent than others. But, natural talent can only go so far. (Otherwise, he’d just be the fastest lifeguard in the kiddie pool.) He has had to train long and hard to refine his abilities.

My background in studying marriages led me see some interesting similarities. Marriage is like an Olympic sport, and we are all like Michael Phelps (unfortunately without the defined abs). Some of us have “natural talent” in marriage and have had the good fortune of choosing a spouse where there seems to be a natural fit. Others are privileged to have good examples of successful marriages that they can follow. Whatever the case may be, regardless of “talent,” we have to train long and hard if we want to come out winning the Gold. You could marry your best friend, but you wouldn’t even be in the race if you didn’t communicate, forgive, express love regularly, solve problems effectively, spend time together and support each other.

Also, despite all his talent and work, it would be impossible for Michael Phelps to win the 4×200 relay without teammates who also gave it their all. Likewise, it is impossible to have a successful marriage if the entire team (husband and wife) doesn’t have the same goal and commit to winning that Gold together.

Angela Bradford, M.S., LMFT, Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

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