Many of you know that I ran track in high school. The mile run was my specialty. That’s four laps around for you sports novices. After the many logged hours of pre-race training, all that was needed was a strategy as to pace and take over and then the sheer will to give it all you had and then some. It was a masochistic hypnotic juggernaut.

Sounds like marriage. Or, at least my high school track days came to mind last night as I was sitting with a couple.
“But I’ve already tried that,” the husband said with resentment and resignation after I offered a possible relational move that might get him what he told me he wanted.
“Well,” I said, as neutrally as I could muster. “You can go around again, or you can hang up the towel.”

I then went on to explain that when you contract for partnership (i.e., marriage), you are signing up to do laps for the rest of your life. You revisit the same issues repeatedly. Hopefully, if we are smart enough, we will learn from the last go around. We assess what went right and not-so-right. We then tweak in order to do differently and expectantly, do better. Then, off we go. Another lap around the marital track.

I’m not sure he liked my metaphor or my encouragement to try it again. His look told me that he’d rather find the bench or the locker room, the couch or the bar.

But we were there. And, I’m a pain-in-the-a**. And, he loves his wife. And, he was an intelligent, willing participant.

I went on to explain that when things don’t go as planned, he gets stuck in the hurt. As if his marriage is constructed as a one-lap event: the attempt at contact failed; ergo, the marriage is doomed.

“Nope. Get up.” I instructed. “Let’s learn and do it differently.”

And around the track we went again.

This time, I went with him. I offered some relational tools that might allow his turn toward his wife to be more connective and thus, effective. As you probably guessed, he did it. We ended the lap with a win-win-win. A win for him. A win for her. And a win for their relationship.

His face beamed.

Granted, my knees retired my running shoes decades ago. So now, my heart must do the running, racing for the prize of relational living.

Like my old days on the track, we must get used to going in circles. Embracing the imperfect repetitive journey. I just hope we are smart enough to make each lap count. That we learn and grow from the last trip so that the next round might be new and improved.

For the rise of your life …