I’m sure we’ve all seen the image of a hamster running as fast as it can on its wheel. But, have you ever seen two hamsters on the same wheel trying to run at different speeds? Generally, it doesn’t end well for one of them. The one that can’t keep up gets caught lopsided in the wheel spinning up over and over while the other just keeps on running.
When it comes to my marriage, I’m often the one trying to live life at a fast pace, causing the other to become disoriented with their head spinning. I tend to get really focused trying to keep up with all that’s going on around me (Not always healthy or realistic, I know!). My wife, Josie, on the other hand, relates to the other hamster. She doesn’t always appreciate my fast pace and she can get motion sickness trying to keep up.
When spouses have a habit of living at different paces, it’s not great for the marriage relationship. One spouse can feel dragged along not enjoying the experience, while the other spouse eventually gets frustrated, exhausted or burned out.
So if you and your spouse have a hard time keeping pace with one another, what is the solution? One shared activity that seems to be forgotten in the midst of raising kids, working countless hours and trying to keep pace on the exhaustion wheel, is simply stopping together. While there’s no use trying to change each other’s personalities — after all, some of us are just wired to live at different speeds — we should intentionally make time for rest stops for the health of our relationship.
This is beyond our natural need to sleep after a long day or to rest when recovering from sickness or physical exertion. I am talking about drawing closer together in a way that refreshes your marriage. Resting has incredible benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety, and increasing overall wellbeing. Rest boosts creativity and brings clarity of mind. You make better decisions after resting. Each of these benefits will have a significant impact on your relationship… and most likely in the bedroom too!
But how does a couple stop to rest together? That is a conversation you will need to have with your spouse. For each couple it will probably look different. Maybe it’s a weekend away camping (without kids!) or taking in some time at a spa for a couple’s massage. An evening stroll in nature or sitting near the lake or river. Getting out on the water on a paddle board, sailboat or canoe. A quiet evening at home reading a book or watching a show together. A shared activity such as golf or pickle ball. Maybe a visit to the zoo or art gallery. There are many options for a couple to rest together. Take some time to discuss the options with your spouse and decide which would best work for you as a couple.
Josie and I have discovered that rest is a gift for our relationship. One of our favourite resting experiences is to get away for two nights at a retreat centre and just be together. We engage in conversation focused on growing in our relationship. We walk on the forest trails to soak in God’s creation together. We take time to pray together and for one another. This is life-giving to each of us individually but it also refreshes our relationship with renewed love and joy.
Over the last twenty-one years of marriage I have learned to slow down a bit, but the greatest discovery throughout these years is learning to have these intentional rest stops — to get off the wheel and enjoy just being together.