Two weeks ago, I asked my wife why we get along so well. From four hours of discussion, two things stood out:
- You put me first
- I trust you
I’ve been divorced, unemployed, overtrained, stressed out, and overweight — generally not at the same time, thankfully. So my advice, is no guarantee of smooth sailing. However, by applying these tips, I’ve become comfortable with my choices and successful in my most important relationship.
What do you want? I am driven by a desire to feel free. If you pay attention to your actions then you’ll be able to see what gives you this sense of freedom. For me, it tends to involve nature and new experiences. I’m not about winning, I’m about exploring.
Highly stressed people can gravitate to intensity of experience to compensate for a lack of freedom. Perhaps that’s why drugs are so popular in our culture? It used to be a big part of the kick for my drinking. In athletics the equivalent might be an athlete craving training load to the point of repeated self-injury.
Expectations can lead me to make decisions that inhibit my ability to explore (and feel free).
- Desk jobs;
- Long term commitments;
- Debt; and
- Traditional corporate employment.
All of the above have played an important role in my life – commitments themselves are not a problem. The problem arises when I try to do too much at one time. So, I phase my commitments based on my near, medium and long term goals.
Today, I’m going to focus on marriage and the choices I make to give us the best chance of making our 50th wedding anniversary together.
What are the areas where you can have potential friction?
Travel – We’ve found that having me on the road for a week a month works best. Once a year, I do a two-week trip. That puts a strain on the home so I use it sparingly. My travel is mainly for work but my work enables me to feel free. This sense of freedom has endured from investing in Asia to riding my bike in Arizona. So I don’t think it’s what I’m doing — rather it’s doing something outside the box.
Finances – If you want freedom then make sure that you keep your personal expenses as low as possible. Consuming a lot of the family’s resources, while away, is a recipe for friction. Be visible with your financial choices – the way I live my life financially is visible to my spouse’s peer group. Quick Tip: make sure your spouse is rolling in a superior ride to you.
Be Reliable on Little Things – turn up on time; always beat your budget; do it right the first time. In order to pull this off I need systems. I’m constantly asking my family to write it down; make a list; send me a note… This lets me plan my schedule and batch process their needs. I focus on big ticket items but what truly matters is consistently taking care of the little things. For the explorers reading, this is the essential path to creating the trust required to be granted freedom. Take care of the little things when you’re home.
Upgrade Your Peer Group – The devil is probably a fun wingman for a weekend in Vegas. However… if you want a quality spouse in your life, and personal freedom, then you’ll need to upgrade your associates. It’s not a case of right/wrong. We need friends that mirror the values that we want to live. Choose your business, and training, partners very carefully.
I resist being pushed so it’s best that I make the choices to do all of the above. That brings me to the biggest tip of all – be the change you want to see in your life.
- If you want a fit spouse then be a fit spouse.
- If you want support then be supportive.
- If you want to be in charge then make yourself fit for leadership.
The above start with the little things in our day to day living. We can’t fool the people that we live with – so best to be open, consistent and true to the mission.
Don’t confuse your desire for freedom with a desire to be served. When I am feeling overburdened, I want the world to cater to me. The freedom we seek will not arrive by oppressing those around us. The solution (for me) is to simplify my life so I can focus on the fundamentals of my marriage and get back out on my bike. Creating an enjoyable private life requires a willingness to be less “successful” publicly.
It took me 25+ years to make myself marriage material and I’m still working on it.