Running a marathon is a lot like marriage.
Everyone goes into it thinking they are the exception, that their marriage will be the marriage that will defy the odds—that there will be no chaffing or miles where you want to quit. Forget the seven-year itch. This is a ‘til death do us part type of thing.
The truth is that marathons and marriage can be as hard as they are rewarding. They certainly aren't for everyone. Those who decide to say "I do" must learn to take both the highs and lows and grow from them. “In sickness and in health” brings on a new meaning when you are tested through hard miles both in the marathon and in your relationship.
Marriage and marathons are both commitments that have the possibility to enrich our lives and fulfill us in ways other endeavors can't.
Mile 1 - Your adrenaline is through the roof! You are excited to get this race of a marriage underway. It's the moment in time you have been waiting for all year. It doesn't matter if you are under prepared at this point because everyone gets through this first mile with butterflies in their stomach.
Mile 2 - Hitting your second anniversary is exciting. You've made it past the starting line and are working your way towards settling into your new life race. You are convinced that, although everyone says it gets hard at some point, it won't be that way for you. You have found your one true love and just know you will make it to the finish line without any doubts.
Mile 3, 4 and 5 - The newness of the marriage is wearing off a little, but you feel comfortable with your pace and confident that signing up for this marathon was the right decision. This long run is the one you have been dreaming about.
Mile 6 - When someone asks you how long you’ve been married, you proudly say six years. It feels like forever but also like you just started running. It's funny how six miles was once a very far distance but now it doesn't seem far at all.
Mile 7 - Some say that the happiness in a relationship starts to decline around year seven. You tell yourself you've got this! You see a friend up ahead who came to cheer you on. You pause for a moment and ask for more body glide to prevent any future chaffing. Friends and family, you are realizing, are an integral part of keeping a marriage moving forward. They cheer you on and give you advice when the going gets tough.
Mile 8, 9 and 10 - Things start to get a bit windy but you know that, while the wind can make you bend, it won't break you. You turn on your music and find your own happy space in the marriage. You are beginning to understand why older couples advised you that marriage is marvelous but also hard work.
Mile 11 and 12 - Can you believe it? You passed the double-digit mark! Ten years—10 miles—wow! That magic double-digit number is something to commend yourself on because it's an accomplishment in and of itself. You know that what you decided to do is wonderful in many ways but are certain it's one of the toughest things you’ve signed up for.
Mile 13 - Almost half-way there! Your excitement is mixed with a bit of stress as it now fully sinks in that even when you cross the finish line, your race really never ends. It will always be work. Running is hard. You love the person you decided to enter this race with, but 13 years is a long time and forever suddenly feels like, well, forever.