Breaking Our Own “Four Minute Miles”

The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win! –Roger Bannister 

Until 1954 when Roger Bannister broke the four minute time barrier for the mile distance run, scientists were convinced it was impossible for any human to run that fast. Within two months of his posting a 3:59 pace, two other men also broke the sub-four-minute mile barrier. That which was formerly considered impossible was suddenly possible.

The same is true in marriage, though the well-run race there is considerably longer. If I can drive myself further, especially when I don’t feel like it, then I increase my odds of doing something exceptional and in so doing, I can encourage others to do the same.

In marriage, wisdom suggests that we should plan for our race. In this message, I am attempting to distill and deliver some of the key ingredients that support efforts to run well.
  1. Vigilance: I am in a high stakes game and I know it; there is a lot riding on how I play my hand. I need to know when to hold them and when to fold them! Marriage is a delicate combination of hard work and good fortune. I need my wits about me at all times. Just as the posh hotels in Las Vegas stand as a testament that most visitors go home with empty wallets, divorce statistics should sober anyone intending to beat the odds and enjoy a successful marriage.
  2. Knowledge of Self:  I endeavor to remain self-aware. I am convinced that it is my responsibility to eventually turn the fractions inside of me into genuine whole numbers. When I struggle with the “mental math” that is required of me, I ask Ann Marie to give me a fresh perspective. I remember that when I am green…I am growing! I continually look for new ways to grow and improve as a man.
  3. The Power Of Habits: What habits am I consciously sowing into or digging out of my life? Experts agree that nearly fifty percent of what we do throughout the day is dictated by our habits.  I rely on my wife for an active feedback loop that helps me to either adopt & maintain life-giving habits… or displace & avoid destructive ones. Are my habits more about getting from or giving to Ann Marie? I believe now that my habits build or destroy me!
  4. Off-Roading: No matter her age, my wife is looking to get caught up in some kind of adventure. I realize that we probably won’t be scaling to the top of El Capitan anytime soon, still Ann Marie is turned-on when a sense of adventure exists in our marriage. Why is it more thrilling to whitewater raft a river raging with numerous “Class 6” rapids when you put on? How come your nerves crackle and spark when your guide quietly reminds you that the “Class 6” designation means that there is a “high incidence of death” lurking on the river that day?  The same type of risk exists in our marriage. Both of us need to be leaning forward with our oars digging into the raging river we navigate together.
  5. Trying Softer: I love this description of intimacy that illustrates its more practical meaning … In To Me See! As a man, I can get all wrapped up inside of my own story and forget to bring Ann Marie up to speed with what my mind is gnawing on at a particular time. I want to be strong but she needs to know the load I am carrying. My download needn’t be perfect either. Regularly, I need to find ways to let her know me, good and bad. We love what we know, it is true for everyone!
  6. Affirm: In the book Wild At Heart, John Eldridge contends that every woman has one fundamental question: Am I beautiful; am I worthy of pursuit? I look for and find different times during the day to deliver my answer…. YES! reminding Ann Marie that she is beautiful is rocket fuel for her soul and strengthens her self concept.
  7. Unplug: Besides my tractor and my willingness to vacuum, nothing is more attractive to my wife than when I am dancing around our home and acting goofy; just laughing with her and our children. At times, it can be hard to drop the heavy bags I carry home from work; but fun and lightheartedness are key elements in any successful marriage. Most days, I must consciously rewire my mind to change its current from the GETTING THINGS DONE mode to the enlightened mode of BEL FAR NIENTE… Beautiful doing nothing! I try to remember that Ann Marie did not marry me because I was good businessman…in fact, that aspect of who I am is kind of boring to her.
  8. Give Thanks: Every gift has a giver. Humility is recognizing the Source of my gifts. When I slow down, starting & ending each day to reflect and give thanks, I am humbled. When I recognize the mercy that I have been shown in life, I dispense mercy more readily. I have yet to find a man who doesn’t naturally struggle with humility. Something important gets reset inside when I get on my knees each day.

No doubt, your list will be different than the one I offer here. In time, I assume that my list will change slightly too.

Do you have a list? If you do, will you let your wife weigh-in with her comments? If you don’t, will you take the time to collaborate with her to create one?

Each of us probably can identify one or two exceptional marriages in our lives. The fact that they exist gives us hope. These couples remind us of what is possible and gives us the encouragement we need to push our commitment to one another further…. even when it gets painful.

Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying…. cause you are!

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