By Lavern & Ronda Nissley
A traumatic pair of recent falls from our tandem recumbent bicycle made us think seriously about our tandem biking future. We hadn’t fallen in about 9 years, and within a week we fell twice. The second fall shook us and actually raised the question on whether we should just stop riding tandem altogether. Kind of like divorcing our bike!
For some time now we’ve seen tandem biking as a metaphor for marriage. It requires a great deal of working together with each other to make it work, and our actions/movements on the bike affect the other!
We’re so grateful that most of our memories on the bike are positive. There are way more good things we’re experiencing together than bad things. But what if those memories were reversed and the negatives were outweighing the positives? Would we continue riding? What adjustments would we make?
That is exactly what couples face when their marriages are no longer VITALIZED, the healthiest of 5 tiers that describe marriage health. As marriage health slips to less healthy tiers like COEXISTENT, CONFLICTED, or DEVITALIZED, partners face a choice on how to proceed from here.
Several options exist:
We’re going to continue riding our tandem recumbent bicycle. After reviewing both of our falls we have made adjustments that we believe will keep us from falling, or at least decrease the risk. We’ve ridden too many miles (12,175 in 11 years) and spent too much time (780 hours, almost 4 ½ weeks) to end the relationship with our bike.
Our desire is to see couples face their current relationship health with courage and commitment. To do whatever it takes to move from way more negatives than positives to a place of connection and vitality. Had we NOT done that for our relationship in 1990, eleven years into our marriage, we likely wouldn’t have shared the messages on Healthy Again over the weekend. Much less written this blog post reflecting on two bicycle falls. We wouldn’t have had a bike to fall off of.
Encompass Connection Center helps couples learn how to resolve issues and create fulfilling, productive relationships. We offer a free relationship assessment to determine your relationship’s strengths and potential threats. For more help, look into our RINGS Experience, which includes marriage strengthening exercises and a coaching model to help build real intimacy and growth skills.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.