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Racing for Relationships

Over the weekend I watched a half marathon and was amazed at the different shapes and sizes of people who crossed the finish line. The first and fastest were gazelle-like creations who seemed to have an effortless bounce in their strides, barely breaking a sweat. Then there was the middle group of older, less prepared, or less naturally endowed athletes who were fighting for the best place they could attain. In the last place were a group of racers who had hit a wall or were in the race to simply finish it. Everyone received equal applause.

It takes a lifetime to finish the race with our most important relationships. Staying in the race takes courage and determination. We are not all given the same capacity to finish at the front of the pack. Being born into an abusive or neglectful family or having a disability can make growing close relationships difficult. I try to remind couples that staying in the race is more important than finishing at the front of the pack.

It takes time and endurance to rewire the neural pathways in the brain that make emotional connection easy. The biggest challenge for most of us is our expectations for love. We have an idealized view of relationships that makes it difficult to stay committed to the person who we are with. When this ideal is shattered it can also be difficult to get back into the race after a relationship failure.

The truth is that relationship health is as important as physical health to our well-being and assessment of a life well lived. Regardless of our limitations or the people we are connected with, it is important to stay in the race for healthy relationships for life.


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