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Friday, February 21, 2014

Wives, Husbands, and Rhythm

On the freeway, we all have a speed we're comfortable with. Slower is too slow, and we itch impatiently, feeling that we're dawdling.

And too fast gives us a slight frisson of fear.

Life is the same way. We have a pace at which we live, at which we work, talk, and even relax. So do our spouses...and those paces are usually different.

Here's a test - are you given to finishing you mate's sentences?

It's a cute trick, and speaks of how well you know each other, but it's also saying that you're moving faster, and subconsciously you feel your mate isn't keeping up.

When courting, we match our pace to that of our spouse. We slow down, or speed up. This tends to be masked by the fact that in courtship we're doing different things, from what we did when we were single, and there's no solid yardstick we can use to judge the change in pace.

I mean, guys...did you go for long romantic strolls on the beach, hand in hand with your buds? I thought not. (I hoped not.)

None of this is bad. Marriage is a tough exercise, building intimacy between two complete strangers. It's a welding process, using the heat of emotional and spiritual attraction, hopefully under spiritual control and guidance.

But when you weld two pieces of steel together the properties of the individual pieces remain the same outside the zone where they're welded and combined.

So it its with marriage - we're changed by the bond within a certain range, where we interact emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But outside that, we're still pretty much the same.

Ever hear the advice - "Don't marry someone with the intention to change them?" That's it, right there.

When it comes to the pace and rhythm at which we live, it's important to achieve a balance. Otherwise the 'faster' partner feels frustrated and constrained, and the slower mate can feel left behind, or condescended to. None of this is good for the relationship.

What can we do?

Take walks together, holding hands - This simple physical act is probably the most important thing you can do to marge your paces successfully, and with least strain. Physical contact is important - through it we feel warmth and emotion and, yes, the pulse of our mate.

A short walk every evening (weather permitting) is one of the best gifts you can give to your marriage.

Make an intentional effort to match your mate's pace - If your husband enjoys 'pajama Sundays' while you would rather rise at six in the morning and do yardwork, take every second or third Sunday and spend that time with him. He'll be surprised and delighted, and you may learn that you can slow down.

Don't make it a quid pro quo. Make the time you spend with him a gift, and don't hand him a pruning saw next week as the sun comes up. Also, don't complain about, or even mention, the time you may feel has been lost, or what you could have accomplished if you'd kept your preferred schedule.

Agree to disagree - Take time to go at your own pace. Before Barbara and I were married, I ran seven miles, every evening, and had dinner between ten and midnight.

She came from a life where she ate at six, and spent the evening quietly.

I tried to live her way, and it was a disaster. My body didn't adapt well to the change - I was restless, and had trouble sleeping. It was bad for both of us, and the relationship, so finally I went to a modified running schedule (shorter runs), had a small meal with her at six, and my main meal at the time to which I was accustomed. It sounds cumbersome, but it worked, and what was causing distance brought us closer together - because oit took the strain away.

Remember that pace is not permanent - one day, you are likely to find that you've slowed down, since the things that drove you aren't as important...or that you've sped up, because you've realized that they are that important. Same thing is likely  to happen to your mate.

If you understand this, and look at life's rhythms as being part of a symphony rather than a consistent drumbeat, you'll be ready to take the opportunity to welcome your spouse into the pace of your pulse, as you slow down to catch up with one another.


  1. Interesting concepts, Andrew - I like the idea of holding hands to intentionally match each other's pace.

    1. Thanks, Shel. The holding hands technique works very well, particularly if practiced consistently.