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Chapter 3: We, not I

In last month’s column, I discussed how expectations are defined—the importance of a clear vision, fitness levels, and the implementation of a realistic schedule. The next step is to decide what you will physically take on together. It seems like an easy task but makes no mistake; this can be where communication breaks down and egos flare.

Talk before you choose

Partners sell themselves short by assuming working out together means one person will take on the other’s fitness method, or the decision solely falls on one person. You and your spouse discussing what excites your interest or activities you think the other would be good at will spark deeper, intentional conversations—taking time to tap into your curiosity and listening to your partner’s suggestions intentionally crafts your time together.

You’re a partner, not the boss.

When one spouse enters the wheelhouse of another, the power dynamics can become skewed. If you are inexperienced, this is your time to put your ego to the side. Advocating for yourself doesn’t go out the window. If something is too heavy, intense, or hurts, speak up. However, be willing to humble yourself and allow your partner to guide you. They are most likely excited to show you everything they know and want you to succeed.

On the other hand, if you are the person with the experience… bring it down a level. Empathy and compassion, with a gentle approach, are needed when starting. Be willing to explain and demonstrate more than once verbally and visually. Your openness will allow a safe space for vulnerabilities to be revealed and new strengths found. Do the opposite, and getting your loved one to cooperate will be a constant uphill battle.

Don’t be so quick to level up.

Your spouse running their first 5k does not mean they want to start training for a marathon. Heck! They might not even feel ready to sign up for a race, period. Do not sabotage the connection you both are creating by leveling up every chance you get. Allow one or both of you to get comfortable with newly attained confidence and growth. The easiest way to lose each other is when achieving feels like a punishment or when the activities become more important than spending time together.

It’s okay for one person to be better.

It is realistic to assume one partner may excel in an activity to the point where you may need to adjust how you spend the time together. Compromise is key. You may not always be side by side, but it must start and end together. Maybe they run ahead, do a few more sets, or play an extra match. If there is clear communication and both people are okay with the compromise, it is still time well spent together.

The “We Not I” approach keeps the goal of spending time together at the forefront. Taking time to discuss what you both would like to try opens the door for the deeper why questions—being teachable shows your spouse your trust in them. Leading with compassion and empathy creates vulnerability and new forms of intimacy. Growing your confidence and letting progression happen naturally affirms why you decided to embark on a couple of fitness journeys. Finally, being okay with and celebrating as one or both of you excel builds on your trust that you can support individual and couple goals.

Be well; you are worthy.

Dominique is a wife, mother, blogger and avid long distance runner. Her style of blogging centers around marriage, family, fitness and personal growth. Dominique’s insightful and practical approach to advice gives everyday couples helpful tools to incorporate into having healthy relationships.

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