Dr. Kim’s new book “14 Keys to Lasting Love: How to Have the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted” comes out on January 8, 2019. This book will change your marriage, and it will most certainly change you. Over the next few weeks, Dr. Kim will highlight some of the principles from the book in his weekly “Insights.”
Looking back, I wish I’d been as good an athlete as I thought I was. If I had been, there would be an Olympic gold medal hanging somewhere in my home. There’s not. There are a few medals, but nothing even close to the Olympics. Nonetheless, track and cross country taught me a lot. I learned the essence of self-discipline and hard work, as well as the consequences of avoiding them. I learned the importance of training with other people. They challenged and encouraged me. I learned the importance of a coach who believed in me. Without his wisdom, encouragement, and toughness, I would not have improved.
Even though we were called the track team or the cross-country team, on game day, it was me against the world. Sure, my teammates and coach cheered for me and encouraged me, but at the end of the race it was just me. I either won or lost, and there was no one to point the finger at but me. Train together, prepare together, and then race alone. It was a love/ hate deal for me.
By the time I met Nancy, my track and cross-country days were over. She knew of those days only from my stories, which I’m sure were much better than my actual accomplishments. Those years influenced me in several ways, but I never thought they would affect my marriage.
First, let’s take a look at the positive impact. Marriage is sometimes compared to a marathon. It is a long race. To compete in long-distance running, I learned hard work and self-discipline. Those are two of the essentials that go into an awesome marriage. Marriage is work. Period. But just like winning a race, the hard work pays off. My nature is to be selfish and look out for myself first. It doesn’t help to live in a culture that says it’s okay to put myself first. It isn’t okay—certainly not if you want a good marriage. Self-discipline helps keep me away from selfishness. I can tell myself no when I need to. I can sacrifice myself for others.
In marriage, I have the best teammate imaginable. Nancy was designed to perfectly complement, challenge, and encourage me. From the day we said “I do,” we are a team. Scripture tells us that life is better with two; if one falls down, the other can help them up (see Eccles. 4:9–10). Looking back, I cannot imagine what my life would be without her. Then there is our Coach. Neither of us can imagine our lives or marriage without Him. God has always been there for us. He gives us His wisdom, encouragement, and guidance. He has been there through everything.
I’m so thankful to have these realities in my marriage. My prayers were answered. Even so, sometimes in the reality of the marriage “race,” something changes. Maybe it is the stress of life or minor irritations, but I can go from being Nancy’s teammate with this amazing Coach to operating as a solitary person running against the world. My teammate becomes my enemy and I quit listening to my Coach. I go from the idea that marriage is a team sport to thinking that I don’t need anyone and I can do it all on my own. And for a brief moment, I feel justified in that. Then, once again, I realize that will not work. I was not designed to be a one-man team—God blessed me with much more than that.
Today, I don’t do that very often, if at all. With God’s help I will stay on my team and value it as much as He does. What about you? Do you see your spouse as your marriage teammate? Can you see God as your Coach? The bottom line is that marriage is a team sport and life is better on the team.