If Marriage Is a Marathon, How Far Does Love Get You?

Marriage is like running a marathon. Love only gets you to the start line.

I love watching those Kenyan runners sail across the finish line at the Boston marathon. Damn, they make those 42 kilometers look like a cake walk. But I know these uber-athletes weren’t doing 12 minute jogs with their cockapoos, stuffing their faces with Big Macs and Cheetos to prepare.

Nope, these smart marathoners knew the race would get physically and psychologically tougher as the miles clicked by. They were not caught by surprise when they faced Heartbreak Hill. They surveyed the course ahead of time, and trained hard to make sure it wasn’t their downfall.

I used to run short-distance races. I looked pretty hot for the first 100 yards. No cramps, dehydration, or mental anguish. I often tricked myself into believing that doing well in the early stages signaled success down the road. It never did. Deciding between hauling my butt out of a warm bed for a 5:30 a.m. training run or pushing the snooze button was a no brainer. So, why did it surprise me that I looked and felt like crap at the end of each race?

Unfortunately too many people sprint into their marathons of love with the same optimism and reckless abandon, thinking “all you need is love” (thanks Beatles). Then, they don’t see Heartbreak Hill looming up ahead – and are floored when they run into it. But life poses some predictable challenges that should come as no surprise.

Challenges such as dual careers, a fair split of housework, mutual obligations to children and aging parents, declines in energy, looks and libido – and I’m just getting warmed up here. What will we expect from each other as we approach our own Heartbreak Hills? What are the sacrifices, commitments and compromises we will be prepared to make to get to the other side?

Love only gets you to the start line. It takes preparation and skill – as well as blood, guts and determination – to get you to the end.

Quotes from famous marathoners which easily applies to relationships!
“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.” — Frank Shorter (Gold medalist, marathon, 1972 Olympics)

“Marathoning is like cutting yourself unexpectedly. You dip into the pain so gradually that the damage is done before you are aware of it. Unfortunately, when awareness comes, it is excruciating.” — John Farrington (Australian marathoner, 1968 Olympian)

“We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” — Emil Zatopek, Triple gold medalist (long distance running, 1952 Olympics)

Sue Nador is a relationship strategist. She helps hash out expectations in the messy world of love in a pragmatic, humorous and straight-talking way on her blog. Sue lives with her husband, two sons and goldendoodle in Toronto.

Image(s): Simon Oxley

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