Healthy Mind, Healthy Marriage

Healthy mind, Healthy marriage

Robin Gutman, LMHC, NCC

Biking along the beautiful Farmington Canal in New England, I was enjoying the scenery, the fresh air, the pleasant sensation of being involved in a favorite pastime on a beautiful day. It was idyllic and yet as I relished the experience, I realized I would not be able to continue biking for more than a set amount of time. There are committed bikers who ride for miles as fundraisers for organizations or as part of a race. Preparing for this endeavor takes months of training and the ride itself can last several hours. With all of the pleasure of my biking experience, I have little interest in pursuing training for a race.

I like biking, and yet, I do not have the drive to pursue it in any deeper form other than a pleasurable pastime. Coasting along works in this realm, but when it comes to marriage, proceeding with little effort just isn’t optimal.

Marriage is not like biking as a recreational hobby, but more like biking as part of a race. You may be an overall mentally, emotionally, physically healthy person. But is that enough to take you to the top? Sure, technically, you can cruise along and enjoy the ride, and it’s nice. There’s a great view and it’s relaxing. To maximize the potential intimacy and depth that lays behind the ‘nice ride’, extra effort and training may be a great tool to bring a couple to the next level.

Sara and Mordy were eagerly anticipating their wedding date. They were looking forward to beginning married life together, and they were confident that they were headed for a lifetime of bliss. Sara and Mordy had discussed the importance of good communication and they enjoyed spending time together. In addition, they had talked about the importance of maintaining one’s mental health and both felt emotionally resilient and ready for a healthy relationship.

Sara was known by all her friends to be a generous person, using her time and resources to benefit others. Similarly, Moshe spent hours each week volunteering for different charitable organizations. Clearly they were both kind, giving, loving people, and both felt that their life experiences would enhance their marriage. Sara and Mordy just knew they were on the right track for a wonderful ride.

One may enjoy biking and be proficient at it, and still can not simply hop onto a bike on the day of a bicycle race. Even if they’ve been biking every day for several months, it’s not quite enough to be completely prepared for an actual race. Suddenly there are skill levels to assess and tracks to choose. Then you need to ascertain that you have the correct gear for the track you choose. If you chose a mountain track but come equipped with a road bike, that won’t work in your favor.

Sara and Mordy came into their marriage with many strengths. What they were not prepared for, were the times when the terrain wasn’t as they expected it to be. They came prepared with ‘equipment’ in the form of shared values, willingness to compromise, good communication, patience, and generosity. Life is full of change and much of it is unexpected. The tools that Sara and Mordy possessed were able to help them get off to a wonderful, strong start.

Mountain bikes come in different styles, with geometry, gears, suspension, and tires tuned for specific types of riding. Road bikes are light, and keep you in an aerodynamic tucked position, but you’re confined to the asphalt. Each type of bicycle can be useful, in the intended setting. A biker must know how to use the features on the bicycle to the best of their ability, and how to adjust the gears at the precise moment needed.

One may possess characteristics that will stand them in good stead throughout the ‘race’. While this is definitely a strong basis for a healthy marriage, it is still a new and unknown path being chartered. The terrain may not be exactly as one expected, and it may change midway through the race. As well prepared as a couple might be, they are still navigating something they have never experienced before. With guidance in proper techniques and training in navigating terrain to their maximum capabilities, their deepest strengths can be harnessed to get them farther than they could have imagined.