Bottom Line: We get in a fight. Every single time.
Over what? Our PACE.
You know the children’s fable. Slow and steady wins the race. I am everything BUT slow and steady. When it comes to running, I am the hare. I like to take off fast. Well, fast for me. Fast is quite relative in running. My ‘fast’ is another runner’s ‘cool down’. I just try to find a stride that’s slightly difficult to maintain and see how long I can maintain it. Is that what a hare even does? I think hares never tire…and that is not the case with me.
Usually, a couple miles in, I am walking. But eventually, I start back up again. My approach: run until my legs are on fire, I can barely breathe, I feel a slight cramp coming on and I am starting to think: I am going to die. And then, push a little harder before finally stopping. That’s how I run. I enjoy the challenge of pushing my body beyond what I think it can handle (which may be fine when you’re young, but not so wise when you’re older. Hence, a torn meniscus last month from running bleachers. Hellooo…why can I not remember I’m not in high school anymore?).
My husband, on the other hand, is like the tortoise. Why do I have this feeling that he may not love being compared to a tortoise and that this could end up in a serious ‘discussion’ tonight? So I should say this: he’s run 26 marathons. Twenty freakin’ six of those 26.2 milers. And he wants to run 100 in his lifetime! That’s insanity. Discipline, plus insanity.
So even though I call him ‘the tortoise,’ I can’t criticize his running all that much. He is much more of a runner than I am. His pacing approach is just, well, different. Instead of going hard right out of the chute, he is slow to warm up, easing into his run, slowly finding that smooth, steady pace that he will be able to maintain for hours. His first few miles are his slowest ones…which feel excruciatingly slow to his hare running buddy! Hare, not hairy, that is. Depending on the day. But gradually, his pace intensifies and pretty soon, he’s in his zone. And then, there’s no stopping him. Slow and steady wins the race.
You can imagine how this plays out on a Saturday morning long run. I try to be quiet and polite and stifle my need for speed during the first few miles. But eventually, I can’t hold back any longer. I am dying to run hard, fast and free from any restrictions. So I mumble something about maybe increasing the pace just a little bit. And that’s it. He’s pissed. Because it happens every time and it is always an issue. And it’s usually right around the same spot (for Austinites, it’s mile 6 of the loop at Longhorn Dam. Not the safest place to be left).
He usually says something like, Fine, just go ahead! If you don’t like my pace, then go at your own. And well, I do (my mind still battling between guilt and relief). But at this point he’s so mad that he wouldn’t even want to run if I stayed behind (so I rationalize). I dash ahead and leave the grumpy tortoise behind.
But within a couple of miles, he comes from behind and passes me. WITHOUT SAYING A WORD. He just flies by. I’m like: this is SO junior high. And it is. But when it comes to marriage, don’t we often act like we’re still in junior high? Or maybe it’s just us. When I reach the end of the run, there he is, sitting there on a bench acting like he’s been there FOREVER and is bored out of his mind. I think I came in like 4 minutes behind him, but who’s counting. Note: never a good idea to compete with your spouse. So then, in complete silence, we walk to the car and drive home. Together. Without saying a word. I think that happened like 5 times before we finally agreed: this isn’t working.
On Being Married to a Tortoise
I can’t help but make the cheesy connection that this serves as an analogy to marriage and how we approach life so differently. I am the hare, the quick decision maker, the immediate gratification girl. He’s the go-slow-get-to-know type. I told him I loved him in month 2 of dating. He told me he loved me TWO YEARS later when he proposed (he decided he would only say I love you to the girl he would marry!). And that slow and steady tortoise won his prize. A feisty little hare that is quite unpredictable.
We are also different socially. When it comes to friends, I cast a wide net. He prefers to go deep with a few. When it comes to the weekends, I want to schedule lots of social stuff. He prefers to be with his family or a few good friends. When it comes to relaxing, he likes to get his chores done around the house, then go do something fun. I prefer to do something fun, then get work done, if there’s time. And if not, there’s always tomorrow.
We see and do life very differently. We approach friendship and free time and problems and stress very differently. And honestly, it has taken me 10 years of marriage to actually acknowledge and accept that fact…without trying to force him to see and do things my way, the right way. 😉
But I am learning this: to not only accept his way of doing things, but to appreciate his way. Because, in a lot of ways, he complements me, he helps fill in the holes, he is strong where I am weak. That’s why we make a great team. Not because we are exactly alike.
While he does not ever want to become a hare (I don’t think he could even if he tried!), he appreciates the hare in me. He loves that I’m spontaneous, always up for adventure, funny without trying to be, competitive, daring, disciplined (at least in the beginning!), intuitive and creative. Similarly, I have learned to appreciate the tortoise in him. I appreciate that he is incredibly gifted at managing our money and sticking to a budget, that he is able to delay gratification by saving for a need instead of spending on a want, that he prioritizes our family over his social life and his work, that he is conservative on committing to things that would take him away from his family, and that he goes deep with a few, those few including me and our kids! 🙂
While we don’t go on long runs together anymore, we take lots of long, rambling walks through the neighborhood as we download and process our day. While there are elements of his tortoise personality that still drive me absolutely bonkers, I know that my hare tendencies can be just as annoying. We are learning that God has given us one another to shape us, to soften us, to help us see our blind spots, to help us see our need for His help, and ultimately, to mold us into the person we were created to be, the person we will fully one day, when we are reunited with our Maker.
Go love on your spouse today and appreciate their differences! As I preach to myself. 🙂