Just the other evening, my husband and I had dinner with a dear couple we have known for years. The topic of conversation was about how both people in the couple were training for a triathlon. As I listened to the stories of the training regimen each one was going through—overcoming fear, obstacles, injuries, time restraints, and mental insecurities—my first thought was, what drives people to do such a thing?
Then, I started to think about most sports. What makes someone good at sports or win an event that is incredibly physically challenging? What I came up with is discipline, training, desire, motivation, attitude, skills, support, coaching, readiness, bragging rights or the promise of an amazing payoff.
What if we had the same attitude about our relationships, marriages and our families? What if we disciplined ourselves to do whatever it takes to win at love, forgiveness, kindness, support, self-sacrifice, priority setting, encouragement, effective communicating, compromise, acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation and meaningful touch? What would be the payoff?
Research reveals that our health would be measurably better, we would be happier, more productive at work and have a more robust bank account. Additionally, our children would do better at school, be happier and more resilient. They would be less likely to get involved in substance abuse, gangs, crime, early sexual debut or experience mental health issues, stress or have suicidal ideation.
The government could reduce hundreds of programs to help adults or children cope with trauma, hurt, poverty, addictions, homelessness, food insecurity, gangs, loneliness, stress, child abuse or neglect, domestic or intimate-partner violence, foster care and a myriad of other programs established on meeting some basic human need.
Why is it that we can do these amazing things to keep our bodies in top form, which takes so much planning, practice, training and energy, but then do the minimum required to keep our relationships in top condition?
Is it because relationships are not a priority? Or is the payoff not big enough?
Legacy is all we leave. The definition of legacy is something left by you for others.
At the end of our life, what we leave behind for others is what really matters. Trophies, money, gold medals, even a triathlon win are of little consequence. What matters are the memories of generations of love, affection, kindness, belonging and caring.
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, wrote shortly before his imminent death: “I have come to the pinnacle of success … apart from work I have little joy. …Whatever stage of life where we are right now, at the end, we will have to face the day when the curtain falls. Please treasure your family love, love for your spouse, love for your friends. Treat everyone well and stay friendly with your neighbors.”
Legacy is the payoff. Win big!
For more information about building and maintaining healthy relationships visit myrelationshipcenter.org
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