As I sat and watched the acrobatics, balancing acts and more Melissa and I began to whisper to each other wondering how many hours of practice it took for these men and women to be able to do what they do and, at least as far as we could tell, without mistakes!
Seriously think about that for a second. They must have spent hours in gymnastic classes as children starting with the basics and growing bit by bit in their abilities and talents. The classes they took as children would have progressed to more advanced classes as teenagers where the acts and tricks became even more difficult. I'm sure practice, both individually and as a class, would have dramatically increased to multiple times a week.
Eventually, the best of the best would have advanced to the highest level of training where practice became daily and, as they progressed, took up more and more time each day.
All this practice though has paid off as these men and women now get to do what they love for a living, day in and day out. After the show, we think we identified a number of the cast in the same diner we went to for some dessert. Melissa commented on how happy they looked after performing and how cool it was that they found a way in our culture to use being able to do crazy human tricks (for lack of a better word) to make a living.
So, what does this have to do with marriage?
Well, I think the same adage of "practice makes perfect" applies to the whole idea of marriage. For most good marriages, is doesn't just happen naturally that you have great communication and get along and fight well and sex is amazing. Those things take a lot of practice and the basic tenants of what makes practice worth while in sports or arts applies to marriage too.
1. For a practice to be effective and worth while you have to have a goal in mind.
Could you imagine practices with no goal in mind? It would be stupid and pointless. I have experienced it when it comes to music. When I jam with a group of guys if there is no goal in mind practices become tedious, kind of boring and eventually just stop all together. I think the same applies to marriage. What are your goals about...
- how you and your spouse fight?
- about communication?
- about a family?
- about your sexual relationship?
Many times goals are not something that enters in the minds of many couples. We tend to just handle issues as they arise and then constantly switch from issue to issue. I challenge you to sit down with your spouse and think about where you want to be in a year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. and then brain storm how to get there.
2. For a practice to be effective and worth while you have to have a coach or a mentor who knows how to achieve your goal.
If you just throw a bunch of kids on a baseball field, give them some equipment and then just tell them to go out and win a championship, chances are they are not going to be able to obtain that on their own. They need someone who understands the game, how it's played, the basic rules and has experience playing themselves.
Unfortunately, when it comes to marriage I think many couples just get thrown on to the playing field of life, given some tools and then are expected to make it. We in our marriages need to be willing to seek out mentors or coaches (family members, older couples, counselors, etc.) to help us understand marriage and how to make it succeed. But then we also must be willing to be coaches and mentors for others as well.
3. For a practice to be effective and worth while the whole team has got to show up.
I know this concept about practice doesn't apply across the board, say for individual sports like golf or tennis, but it does apply to marriage. Think about a football practice without a quarterback? Or a lineman? Think about a baseball practice without a pitcher? Or a catcher?
Within a marriage, it takes both people showing up on a daily basis and putting in the effort (just another way of saying practice) to accomplish the goals that you both set out to do on your wedding day. As soon as one person is left doing all the work, the team that is supposed to be your marriage will not work very well.
4. For a practice to be effective and worth while you have to have patience and perseverance.
This is a hard one for me personally. Typically, if I can't pick something up right away I tend to give up pretty easily. The first couple of times I tried to learn how to play guitar resulted in frustration of not being able to get my fingers to do what I wanted them to do and then I just stopped trying. Thankfully, I managed to come back to it and worked through the frustration and now I really love and enjoy playing my guitar.
Any marriage is going to have frustrations and fights but when we so readily throw in the towel and give up, explaining that it's just too hard, we miss out on the joy and excitement that a good healthy marriage can bring. We must fight the urge to just throw in the towel and keep practicing at our marriages...things will get better.