I ran track and cross-country in high school. I wanted to play football, but my 5’11” and 125-pound body was tired of getting knocked around. So I found something I could do pretty well and where nobody was trying to tackle me.
I love to run—if you are not a runner, that probably sounds crazy to you. If you are a runner, you are saying, “I’m with you.” I think there ought to be a special category for runners because we understand one another; non-runners just shake their heads at us. I did lay off running during college, but after gaining twenty-five pounds the first year of marriage, the running shoes came out again.
I kept running more and adding miles, and soon I set a goal to run a marathon. My mileage kept increasing, and I did a half-marathon race with relative ease. I finally did a twenty-mile run and thought I was home free. Two weeks out I did a twenty-two-mile run and thought I may be in trouble! The day of the marathon, everything seemed perfect: My attitude was good. I was rested.
I was cruising along at miles 18, 19, and 20. But then heading for mile marker 21, I really started hurting. I drank more water, ate some energy gel, and started planning my funeral! It was the longest 6.2 miles of my life, but I made it! I crossed the finish line. I felt horrible the whole day, but I loved the accomplishment.
I was a marathon runner.
I know many of you saw this analogy coming: Let’s lay that marathon template over marriage. Marriage is not a sprint or a high school cross-country race or a half marathon. Marriage is a marathon. You have days that are painless and days full of pain. There are times when you think you cannot go on, but you do. There are times when it seems it would be easier to give up, but you don’t. Some days are effortless and you coast for awhile, but then tough days come again and you have to trudge on.
I think there is a day when every persevering couple knows they have made it. This is often evident in the eyes of those who have celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary. I don’t know when you will cross the finish line, but if you persevere, you will cross it. Then you can look at each other and smile because you finished, and now you get to sit back and reap the rewards of a marriage well run.