The Importance of Recreational Companionship in your Marriage
I know I may be a wee bit dramatic, but I almost died two weeks ago. Seriously 😊! It was 5:00 p.m. on an exceptionally hot Monday afternoon in June, and we were fighting rush hour traffic on our bicycles. Jody, my husband, and I were riding as if our lives depended on it, and in fact, they truly may have! This is not our customary time to ride our bikes for some exercise, but Jody had assured me the roads would be empty because everyone on the military installation where he works, he said, was on vacation. Well, not everyone. Those who were driving home from work that day were either very cranky because they were not on vacation, or they were in a hurry to get home to leave on a vacation. For a span of about five miles it was like we were racing on the INDY 500 track. I was peddling as fast as I could, but the cars kept zipping by me. One very memorable burgundy Jeep Wrangler got so close to me that I could smell the man’s coffee from his rolled-down window. Thankfully, I had just tucked my elbow in close to my side; otherwise, his jeep would have clipped me! My husband and I do love to ride our bikes. We have been riding together for over a decade and we have clocked some incredible distances - but I just don’t do traffic! I am a big CHICKEN!
As I was peddling that afternoon, both my heart and my mind were racing. I started to consider what I had done to make Jody so mad that he wanted to kill me? I also considered another ugly possibility - maybe Jody had recently purchased a new life insurance policy for me in order to get some quick cash 😊! I was lost in my thoughts of intrigue and perceived marriage problems when I started to reminisce why I was even on the bike to begin with. It could have been my life flashing before my eyes. I am unsure. But, the memory of the day my husband and I bought our first bikes together came rushing back - crystal clear.
Jody and I had just driven our last child to college up in New York, and on the trip home we stopped by a HUGE sporting goods store in a neighboring state. We needed a break from the road; I believe Jody was looking for hiking gear for his yearly AT trip. We walked through the store and right by the bike section. For years, Jody and I had enjoyed attending a SPIN CLASS together at our local gym. It was a great way to burn off calories and stay in shape. But, you see, those bikes don’t move – they are completely safe! But when Jody saw two matching bikes for sale, he exclaimed, “Eureka - this is it!” So, bikes were to become our next joint recreational activity. He was so excited. We were brand new empty nesters, and biking, I guessed, would fill the void. I was an emotional zombie and was missing my youngest child, so I didn’t have the strength to fight. I caved and said, “Sure, buy them.” The next thing I knew, we were the proud new owners of two very plain, but functional bikes.
In the beginning, 5 to 10-mile bike trips were challenging for us. Well, they were for me at least. And soon after beginning our new activity, we started to add accoutrements 😊. First, we bought bike shorts. Comfort far outweighed the initial disgust of seeing my back side expand by 5 inches! Next, we bought a bike rack for the car. Then, we bought some matching helmets and jerseys, and some mace for the stray dogs that bother us on our new country routes. Slowly but surely, longer more difficult trips filled our weekends. Our longest trip to date is 55 miles across a state line. Whew! We have plans for a century ride (100 miles) later this fall when the weather is a tad cooler. Jody and I are bikers, minus the tattoos 😊!
Jody loves adventurous activities, and I love him, so off we go! Jody is also athletic and well-coordinated while I am much more of a klutz – I have fallen off my bike many times! Nevertheless, I keep getting up, dusting myself off and getting back on my bike. Why? Because our bikes are a deliberate path to deepen my friendship with the man I adore! Having fun together as a couple is important for both of us, but much more so for Jody!
I don’t believe my husband is alone in his desire to have me join him in recreational activities. I think he is like many men. In his book, His Needs, Her Needs, Dr Willard Harley lists recreational companionship in the top 5 needs list for all husbands – second only to sex. So, sisters, this need must be important for our husbands. And if you want to keep your friendship with your spouse growing, you cannot neglect this aspect of your marriage. So, you must get creative and find an activity that you and your spouse can enjoy together as a couple.
The number and types of activities are limitless. But if you need a kick start, here is a link to Dr. Harley’s inventory checklist – click here https://www.marriagebuilders.com/forms/rei.pdf. Take time with your spouse to fill it out. You may be surprised with which activities you are and your spouse are most compatible. Consider the amount of time, money and physical fitness required for the activities you two think you will enjoy. And, don’t stress over this process. Enjoy it! Jody and I have tried several activities that became abysmal failures, but they add to the funny story list we now share. And, many have been the fodder for Word Washed Wife posts 😊!
Your husband will appreciate your efforts. He will also be thrilled to see you make your friendship with him a priority! Here are a couple of pointers from a pro 😊:
1. Don’t forget to try activities that also meet your own emotional needs like intimate conversation. I love an activity that is a “win-win” that meets my husband’s recreational companionship need and my need for conversation. Years ago, I nixed all activities that had us too far apart to talk, or that were in environments too loud to hear each other.
2. Don’t forget the social potential for these activities for you and your spouse. For Christians trying to live in true community, this can also be a win-win. Be smart and strategic in your planning.
3. Be truthful in your preferences, but don’t be afraid to try something new. With my husband’s encouragement, I picked up my first golf club 10 years ago. I’m so glad I did! I am not a good golfer, but I have a great time enjoying the beautiful greens and slow relaxed conversation with my hubby and others on the golf course.
Now, back to my most recent near-death experience. When we finally got away from the crazy traffic and pulled our bikes over to regroup and hydrate, I was near tears! I was ready to explode and criticize Jody for this ill-planned adventure, but as I looked over at him, I saw that he was beaming. He quickly said, “What a great afternoon! This has been the best part of my day! Thank you for squeezing a bike ride with me into your day!” Immediately, all my fear and angst dissolved. They were swept away by his smile and giddy, boyish charm.
Riding our bikes together is one of the best ways I can fill my spouse’s tank with love. It’s an adventure we both can do, and knock on wood, survive! Pray for my guardian angels to not grow weary 😊!
And may Wal Mart, or Sports Authority, or any other sporting goods store never sell parachutes, for if they do, my life may be truly in peril!
Stay washed in the word, friends. And keep reading as next week we explore more aspects of finding a friend in our marriages!
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.