Married couples owe it to one another to at least try to stay in shape

Overheard at a coffee shop: “Single guys have to keep themselves in so much better shape than married guys. I mean, think of the pressure to stay in shape if you aren’t married and want to date.”

I didn’t know these dudes (yes, they were dudes) so I didn’t interrupt their conversation, but I really, really wanted to. The fact of the matter is, I feel the exact opposite. Although as a single guy I was definitely motivated to keep myself in good shape for the dating scene, as a married guy I actually feel a true conscious drive to keep myself in shape. I mean, don’t I owe that to my wife? After all, I asked her to forgo all other men on the planet,including the David Beckhams, Ryan Goslings, and George Clooneys of the world?in favor of me. To just let myself go, if I can help it, seems totally unfair?she?s trapped with me, right?

Well, not exactly. Should anything ever go horribly wrong for us and she wants out of this deal, the woman will have options. I met her when she was 20 and I swear, 12 years into our marriage she’s in even better shape than she was back then. And did I mention already that she’s a fitness instructor? It’s not that I literally spend my days thinking, “oh, if we busted up, she could have anyone she wanted”, but realizing that despite the security and comfort of our relationship, she makes health and fitness a priority is a major motivator for me to do the same. It’s a little bit for her, a little bit for me, but mostly it’s for us.

And that’s the thing—it’s for us. Although it’s a perfectly valid argument that you should want to maintain health and fitness for yourself—and I don’t disagree with that—you also have to look at yourselves as a couple and think about what your want your marriage to look like. Not just in terms of your appearance today, but in terms of your health and longevity over the long run.

Have you ever watched the 80s movie, Back to The Future? Remember the difference between Marty McFly’s parents before and after Marty went back to 1955 and helped his dad gain confidence? I think of it like that—which version of the McFly family do you want to be? You can choose.

To be clear, I do understand and acknowledge the realities of aging. I?m experiencing a few of those ?realities? already. Yes, metabolisms will slow, muscle mass will get harder to hold onto, and as our lives get busier, it will become more challenging to find time to work out and eat right. And yes, there will be life events that will temporarily derail our best efforts to keep ourselves in shape. It?s true that one of the special things about being in a committed relationship is that you?re in it together through thick and thin, and sometimes that means literally thick and thin.

As we both get older, we’ll forgive ourselves and each other for that which we can’t affect. But, for that which we can affect by making basic, simple, good choices—saying “no” to that third slice of pizza and “no” to one more beer, or taking a walk instead of sinking into the couch in front of the TV—yes, those are choices that we can make for our health and for our marriage.

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