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. Take a look at the similarities.
Mile 11 of 17
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 22 of 17
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.
Miles 3, 4 and 53 of 17
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 64 of 17
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 75 of 17
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.
Miles 8, 9 and 106 of 17
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.
Miles 11 and 127 of 17
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 138 of 17
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.
Miles 14, 15, 16, 17 and 189 of 17
These are the grinding miles. The years that are filled with ups and downs. There is a huge amount of joy with every mile completed but you start to feel your legs getting tired. Maybe you are dehydrated a bit and could use some electrolytes to add balance back to your system. You know that you need to make sure to take care of yourself in the miles ahead so that you can keep going.
Miles 19 and 2010 of 17
It seems like the start of this adventure may not have been the best idea. You prepared and went to marital counseling. You talked about finances and how to blend your families. But, the truth is that you like your Brooks shoes and your significant other likes Nike. After what sometimes feels like an eternity just the sight of a pair of Nikes puts you in a bad mood. A part of you questions why you thought this marathon was a good idea in the first place. The grass looks really green where your friend is standing cheering you on. Maybe you should have just been the cheerleader and not the one who committed to 26.2 miles. Your head is filled with doubts and you wonder if you are alone or if others around you feel the same way.
Mile 2111 of 17
Everything is annoying you. Everything. The guy running with coins in his pocket, the woman humming as she listens to her iPod. Your shorts are rubbing you in places that you didn't even think it was possible for them to rub. And forget the socks, oh the socks, you will never wear those socks again.
Mile 2212 of 17
Things start to look up. You feel bad that you considered quitting and you remember the possibilities you saw reflected in your partners eyes the day you said, "I do." You remember that you wanted this and feel grateful that you didn't DNF a couple of miles prior. It's not easy working through the miles. While you know that there are times that deal-breakers happen to a runner, you are glad that you didn't quit when the going got really tough.
Miles 23 and 2413 of 17
Your legs are tired, heck everything is tired, but you are happy. You are feeling some of the magic of knowing something big is near. A huge milestone awaits you and you feel renewed and exhausted at the same time.
Mile 2514 of 17
You're thankful that for the past 25 miles you had someone nearby who loved you through and through. They may have annoyed you by asking you silly questions, but you are grateful even for their annoyances. Life is better with a partner guiding you through the miles.
Mile 2615 of 17
The moment you never thought would arrive is almost here. Millions of people a year get married but not everyone makes it past the 20-mile mark. Your hard work was hard, but the rewards have been great.
Mile 26.216 of 17
The finish line. Had you known how hard it was going to be when you signed up for all this, you may not have done it. In the days and weeks after that momentous day, though, you find yourself unable to shake the smile that emanates from your core. The ultimate finish line is a life lived happily—a life where you push through the hard moments, stick with your commitments both to yourself and to others.
Marriage is a marathon. You come out of it stronger than when you entered it.