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Fitness for the Heart

One of our sons is a fitness buff.

Then he was hit by a truck while bicycling. The good news is he lived. The bad news: after extensive surgery and titanium rod placement, he needed physical therapy. Every day. For hours. Painful, painful, painful. A therapist pushing his hip, knee and foot into positions he might not have wanted to be manipulated even before he was injured. Some movements were routine, some experimental to see how far the joint could move. Many hours. Lots of pain. Just as he started to feel a bit more normal came the next round of deeper manipulation, exercises and massage. More hours. More pain.

This went on for months. He was a good patient, showed up on time, did what he was told despite the discomfort, including all his exercises at home. Now, thank God, he walks normally, runs and is back to riding a bicycle twelve-miles to work. One day we went to a Gold’s Gym together. He cleaned my clock. I couldn’t keep up with him! You could say he’s all better.

His doctor said that he healed so quickly and got back to his routine because he had excellent fitness in the first place. He took the time before the unfortunate accident to have a coach; a fitness trainer to help him get his exercise routine right. He was strong.

Fitness is cool. Working out is cool.

Fitness protects us and helps us heal faster. But therapy sucks; in order to need therapy you have to be injured. What about relationship fitness? Not therapy – fitness. Not counseling – relationship fitness. You know, working out and exercising skills and issues about your relationship. The idea is that by being fit relationally, you better fend off the challenges and injuries life throws at all of us. And if (when) you get “sucker punched” on this planet by gravity, or sickness, job loss, RDS (Romance Deficiency Syndrome) or even a truck, then when you need some therapy, you heal quicker because you were fit before you were injured.

I guess that’s a big part of why we facilitate the Love for Life workshop. To help committed couples find that place of collaboration and fitness where they can both throw their shoulders against their problems. Do the heavy lifting together.

You might be a couple that wants to learn the relationship exercise routines that build stronger bonds, grow deeper intimacy. You would need to invest time with a Love for Life coach.

Relationship fitness….good for the heart.

Time and again we see couples at our "Love for Life" workshops and singles at the “Avoid A Jerk” workshops who are in professional therapy. A therapist pushing their emotions and thoughts into positions they might not have wanted to be manipulated even before they got injured. Some of the therapists techniques are routine, others experimental to see how far the couple can stretch. For hours. Painful hours.

Some couples find a measure of healing in therapy. Many have tried it and it failed. Emotionally injured, they walk with a limp in their relationships. Some of them show up at our “relationship fitness” workout.

Mary Beth and I know this “walking wounded” scenario firsthand.

So, at our workshops we start small. Little issues, skills training, emotional warm ups, relationship stretching reps to “get the blood moving” without adding to the pain. Before they know it couples are doing something together that’s fun. Singles recognize hurtful patterns they don’t have to repeat in their next relationship.

As with physical exercise, attendees start “Feelin’ Alright.” As coaches we recognize the signs of growing strength and when to “add more weight.” Tougher workouts lead to closer relationships, nimble communication, stronger bonds. Soon, couples that were at each other’s throats are sitting on each other’s lap. Of course, then it’s time to go to get your “homework” done.

If you have been injured (and inflicted injury) in your relationships (and honestly, that’s all of us, right?) you’ve read good books, spent mucho dollars on therapy, maybe it’s time for some relationship fitness training.

Even if your relationship is pretty healthy, why not keep it trim and nimble and strong?

Relationship fitness…good for the heart.

And what’s good for the heart is good for dating, relating to your spouse, for your family…and actually good for the whole planet.


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