We meet, we fall in love, we develop a bond that we hope and pray will last forever... Then we settle in. We settle in with warm feelings, with contentment, with confidence that we have found the person of our dreams. Many of us make it this far and then something invariably goes wrong, terribly wrong and we wake up one day down the road next to a person and a life that we didn’t want. Why? Because we settle.
I settle. I have a wonderful wife and two incredible kids.. I found the woman of my dreams, my soul mate, and the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I love her and I have the confidence deep down that she loves me. So unfortunately I sometimes take the mindset that I’m “good to go”… Why shouldn’t I? She loves me, our kids are happy and healthy, and life is good. Because my relationship with her and with my children is about as close to a living being as I can imagine. My relationship can go without food and water and nurturance for a while but then it starts to wilt.
In fact, as I have discovered, there is a difference between coasting and settling. Coasting is cruising off of the life of the relationship... Enjoying its energy and its strength. Settling is letting that relationship go too long without sustaining it. It’s neglecting the needs not just of each of the individuals but of the relationship itself.
I’m very much the standard “goal oriented” male. If there’s a problem lets fix it. If something needs action lets take it. I need to see it, hear, it or touch it before I can act. It was easy for me to see my marriage as an achievement or success. I came upon her, found her, fell in love and “won”- I was married. But it became very clear that my triumph was one milestone, not the whole game. I have learned that regardless of how I define it, the success of my relationship is dependent on my efforts to maintain its forward path. Sure, I can coast now and then, but much like riding a bicycle I need to earn that coasting by pedaling hard beforehand.
This mindset has been extremely helpful… I have learned to sense when our relationship is slowing down, moving from coasting to settling and when it does, I pedal. I step it up, I talk, I gesture, and I make an extra effort. Shouldn’t I be making that extra effort every day you ask? Let’s be realistic- as much as I love my wife, my life and hers are filled with other parts. Our kids, our jobs, our friends—all of these other relationships need us to pedal. So it’s a matter of rhythm. Keep our marriage moving forward by checking our momentum every day. Some days no pedaling, some days a ton and some days some extra pedaling not because it’s needed but because I just like to pedal.
Coasting in a relationship is fine- but settling leads to its demise. As long as I can pedal and remember to pedal, my relationship will live.