Quite some time ago, I started a column on marriage advice. I just could never finish it. Just like relationships, it remained a work in progress.
Now, you might ask, what has marriage advice got to do with sports. Pretty simple, really. Marriage is all about teamwork, communication, commitment, giving of yourself. Same thing for sports, especially team sports.
Before you get the idea that I’ve got it all figured out just because I’ve been married to the same person for 38 years, let me tell you that I still have to work at it.
I’m really sure I’m not the perfect husband. Oh, sure, I take out the garbage, handle all the bug-killing duties, and love to get up early on Sunday and have breakfast ready before I waken my slumbering wife.
But I also snore, have an annoying habit of clearing my throat, too often don’t have much tolerance, and put my work way, way too high on the priority list.
So despite huge personal shortcomings, here goes Joe’s advice for effective relationships:
• It is never 50/50. This was what got this thing started. I usually add that it is gonna seem like it is 90/10 all the time but at the core of this piece of advice is simply just don’t keep score.
• Make your relationship a priority. Maybe the biggest mistake I made early in my marriage (well, after kids came along anyway), was not making my wife a high enough priority. Go out on a date on a regular basis, even if the kids have to have a babysitter. It won’t kill them.
• Be ready to compromise. In marriage and in politics, compromise is everything. I wish Washington would figure that out.
• Listen to yourself. Lower your voice, pick your battles, and avoid insults and declarations of absolutes.
• When you are wrong, admit it. And when you are right, admit that you might be wrong.
• It’s impossible to live by the rule “never go to bed angry.” Go to bed. Forget about it for a while. Sleep on it. I guarantee it will be better or more clear in the morning. Or it won’t. Either way, you get a good night’s sleep.
• You might have a really good excuse. Just don’t forget what an excuse really is.
• Make sure that there are plenty of things that you share. But know that it is just as important to have some things in your life that you don’t share. On the share side, my wife and I love to hike in the mountains together.
• Look for reasons to be happy. If you’re always looking for faults and reasons to be unhappy, you’re going to find them.
• Give credit. The self-made man (or woman) is a myth.
• Don’t take your work problems home with you. And don’t take your home problems to work with you. Each should be a refuge from the other.
• Don’t argue when you’re angry, talk about money when you are frustrated, or buy groceries when you’re hungry. Remember that most marital stress is financial.
• Have no regrets. Don’t worry about the things that you should have done. Plan for the things that you’re going to do. Missed chances are in the past. Just prepare yourself not to miss the next opportunity.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to write to him.