Jenny Glick wants you to take your marriage as seriously as your WOD.
I am a junkie.
A CrossFit Junkie. As a relationship expert, I find that CrossFit and marriage both require the same kind of commitment, vulnerability, and coaching to get extraordinary results. Using the CrossFit lingo, I think often about engaging in marriage as RX (prescribed). My love affair with CrossFit started about five years ago. Like many new to the sport, it seemed rather intimidating to me as a self-described “non-athlete”. It certainly wasn’t the place for this very average, soft-around-the-middle, working-mother to hang out. And, as is the rule in CrossFit, when you find your box (that is what the gyms are called) you immediately find community. There I was, a little nervous in my black yoga pants and t-shirt, standing in an old, kind-of-dirty garage with the trainer who was tattooed from head to foot, the handful of hardcore firefighters, the woman wanting to lose 100-lbs, the 60-year-old grandmother, and a couple of other soft-mommy types like me. This was no 24-Hour Fitness. During those early days, I learned about WODs (work-out of the day), hero workouts and what it meant to finish the WOD “as prescribed” (or “RX”). When you have engaged fully in the movements and used the recommended weights per the CrossFit prescription, you have completed the WOD RX. There is a bit of pride in having your name written on the whiteboard with the letters: “RX” after it. Not everyone can do the WOD RX…usually the movements are modified to build the necessary mobility, strength, and confidence to engage fully in the practice.
How Is CrossFit Like Your Marriage?
|Varied Functional Movements||Supports optimal fitness through varied functional movements at high intensity||Supports your emotional and spiritual growth through varied functional-emotional movements (think compassion, forgiveness, integrity, boundaries, trust, vulnerability)…at high intensity.|
|Connection/Community||Offers the opportunity for connection and community between its participants through joint participation in high intensity WODs.||Offers the opportunity for connection and intimacy between the spouses or partners through joint participation in highly intense emotional situations.|
|Vulnerability||Invites discomfort and vulnerability by pushing athletes past the edge of their comfort zone creating physical and personal transformation.||Invites discomfort and vulnerability by offering opportunities for partners to go past the edge of their comfort zone creating personal and spiritual transformation.|
|Lifelong Health||Focuses on developing a full range of functional movements in order to maximize your ability to engage in your life fully over your entire lifespan.||Creates an opportunity to develop a full range of functional-behaviors and functional-emotional responses in order to maximize your ability to engage in your life fully over your entire lifespan (think: rearing children, launching children, buying & selling homes, caring for your aging parents, etc.).|
“Your Workout is My Warm-up” There are a number of sayings that CrossFit has that are true for marriage as well: “Discipline is just choosing between what you want NOW or what you want MOST.” “Strength doesn’t come from what you CAN do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” “Commitment is a choice.” “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Not For The Faint of Heart We all know that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. This is not to say that every marriage should remain intact but it is to say that engaging deeply in the process of marriage requires a willingness to go deep, to dig in, and to push your limits. One of the reasons that I love CrossFit is that I have coaches who know me and who push me past the point that I believe that I can take myself. On Monday, as I was eking my way through a ridiculous number of thrusters and overhead squats, Coach Neil was hollering at me and the others in the gym that we could do it, reminding us to keep our form, dig deep, push through! About five minutes into the WOD, I wanted to quit. Really I did. My thoughts included: “I hate weightlifting.” “Why did I come today.” “This is too hard for me.” “I am not that strong.” This is humbling to admit because I KNOW that I can get through the workout. And for heaven’s sake, I teach meditation, mindfulness, and positive self-talk. I am fully aware that those thoughts do not serve my goal. But in the throws of it, I wanted to sit down and give up. Having a coach to remind me to access my own inner strength in these moments of serious negative self-talk is truly life changing. Really, it is.
In marriage, you are regularly presented with situations when you want to sit down and give up. When you are having the same argument with your spouse over and over and over again (about sex, finances, parenting, in-laws, etc.), you might think: “I hate this.” “Why did I sign up for this anyway.” “Things are never going to change.” “Why bother?!” These thoughts are normal…but they are not helpful in supporting you in achieving your relationship goals. Your immediate feelings of fear, anger, anxiety, and hurt can work against you as you scramble to engage with “good form” with your spouse. Your attempts at:
- clear communication,
- owning your feelings,
- setting clear but kind boundaries,
- listening with an open heart,
- and helping to create an environment where you and your partner can be her/his best self
might be thwarted in the heat of the moment. It is easy to drop your form and go for what is easy — blame, shame, guilt, and making your partner wrong. As they say in CrossFit, “No Rep!” In other words, do it again, use the right form because that sloppy mess doesn’t count. Marriage and intimate relationships require commitment and vulnerability to get the extraordinary results you want. Going to my neighborhood box 4-5 times a week (Shout out to CrossFit Park Hill) , is good for my physical health but also supports my emotional well-being. I often am grunting my way through the WOD with my comrades but when I come home, I feel stronger and more capable of engaging in my own marital WODs.
Originally Published: Marriage as Rx
Photo: Ali Samieivafa /Flickr