Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: How marriage is like football
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Football season is here! And I couldn’t be happier! (Truth be told … I love every athletic season.)
In our household we prepare for the weekend’s smorgasbord of college and professional football games by checking the times, adjusting our weekend to-dos to accommodate those times, and getting situated in the most comfy chair with the TV remote control in hand! Your home may be similar … or not.
As I reflect on this football season, I am reminded of a sign that is posted prominently in my closet …
“We interrupt this marriage for football season.”
The reason this is so tongue-in-cheek poignant in OUR home is that for the first 20 years of our marriage, my husband was a college and professional football coach.
Trust me, being a football coach’s wife is not a role for the faint-of-heart! It’s a 16-hour, seven-day-a-week, commitment for the coaching staff – and, therefore, the wives of the coaching staff as well.
There is, of course, the actual game day, but before that there is watching endless film of the previous opponent so that the team can see the positives as well as the areas that need correction; watching film on the next opponent to prepare schemes for ways to attack their defense and protect against their offense; and then there are the actual daily practices to implement all the new ideas.
The final ritual of college game day, with all its celebration, tailgating, excitement and pageantry … OR … the actual kickoff and ensuing offensive and defensive magic of a professional game – are minor compared to the detailed and exact preparation that occurs during the week before.
My husband has specialized in coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers. I’ve personally witnessed and/or heard many of his instructions when it comes to passing, catching, holding and protecting the football. He has been heard saying:
- “You must keep your eye on the ball at all times.”
- “You must catch the ball ‘with soft hands’ and tuck it away at your side as you run down the field.”
- “You must scramble for a dropped ball and cradle it for protection.”
- “You must secure the ball after taking it from center before discreetly, intentionally and safely tossing or passing it to a teammate.”
- “You must never let the ball fall to the ground.”
- “You must securely stretch the ball to the goal line to score.”
- “Above all … you must protect the ball!”
You see, it is the job of each player on offense to secure the ball, protect the ball and score with the ball. On defense, it is the job of each player to steal the ball, intercept the ball and recover the ball.
If so much time and attention are spent exhaustively teaching the handling of a football – exchanging the ball, securing the ball, protecting the ball and focusing on the ball – how much more time and attention should be spent with the way one handles his or her marriage?
After all, isn’t our marriage at least equal, if not much greater, in value? No matter what, do you …
- Protect your marriage?
- Make secure your marriage?
- Softly handle your marriage? … and …
- Keep your eye on your marriage so that it is fed, nurtured, protected and secured against all evil?
Just think … if each of us who is married would commit to elevating our marriage above all other earthly possessions …
- Spend intentional and invested time learning all the facets of our marriage …
- Nurture and softly handle all facets of our marriage …
- Protect it from outside forces of potential harm …
- Keep our eyes on its importance, significance and worth …
- Treasure it above all else …
- Know that we truly score in life ONLY when we reach the finish line with a marriage that is a living testimony to an unbelieving world.
Touchdown! Strike up the band! Get out your pompoms! Wave the banner! Relish in the pageantry!
In marriage, every day can be game day! Every day one must pamper the delicate, yet also strong, fabric of a winning marriage. And the ultimate reward? A marriage that provides a safe place to fall, that generates excitement and celebration, and that produces a lifetime of “W’s”!
Indeed, a winning marriage is fighting for, investing in and celebrating! Touchdown!