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My husband told me a story about a time when he was in the military and had to do this thing called “Land Nav” which is Land Navigation. (Now stay with me, I promise this has a point!!) In “Land Nav,” they had points on a map that they had to go and find… but they didn’t have cell phones, they didn’t have the other “normal” resources we would use to go and find points plotted on a map. Instead, my husband had to use the sun, compasses, and all these other things I would have no idea how to do! They had to locate these spots once in the day and once at night. And, they had to find “X amount of places” in a certain time frame in order to pass.
The first time my husband did “Land Nav,” there was a group of 30 of them. Right when the timer went off to start, the majority of people (if not all of them) took off running toward these destinations… but they didn’t know where the destinations were. You had to plot the destinations first in order to know where you were going, but they figured, “If I do it faster, if I do it quicker then I will get there first. Then, I will win! I will be done with it. I’ll be able to move on to the next set.”
The other day, my husband Rob was telling me:
“I was the only person who stayed back. I spent a good 30 minutes plotting my exact course so that I knew when I walked out that door, I wouldn’t have to run. I wouldn’t have to run because I knew where I was going.”
He told me once it was all over, many of those people who took off running didn’t even finish! These people who were running were frantic because they didn’t take the time to plot the course. They didn’t know where their destination was so they didn’t know where to go… but they still took off running, eager and excited, but ultimately it ended up failing. They ended up not even finishing the course.
Perhaps you started out with a laser focus; you were driven. You wanted to save your marriage. You wanted to stop your divorce. You wanted to stop the fights or you wanted to restore your relationship, but you didn’t quite know what to do…
But then, you found Marriage Helper where you got tools and guidance for what you needed to do for you and your relationship.
You started doing it… but something happened. You got off course. And you’re left wondering whether or not you can keep going…
Maybe you got angry, maybe you forgot to work out, or maybe you stopped doing those good habits you were trying to implement… and all of a sudden you’re off course. You don’t know how to get back on. You don’t know where you’re going.
It can be frustrating- it can be so frustrating up to the point where you give up- but I don’t want that for you (and you don’t want that for you!).
Right now, it’s the middle of the COVID 19 pandemic where so many people had great intentions. They were doing things to work on themselves. They were going to the gym. They were in college courses. Then all of a sudden this pandemic happens and it was enough to overwhelm us to the point where it knocks us off.
The question is, are we going to be off course temporarily, where we just stumbled a little bit and need to take a few steps to get back on… Or, are we going to be off course for good, and say, “Well, because I’m off, I might as well abandon it completely… It’s just not working.”
I encourage you to not take the viewpoint of, “It’s not working. It’s never going to work.” This type of self-defeating mindset isn’t going to help you in the long run. In fact, if you think of your brain as being a muscle, it is better for you, your brain, your mindset, and your mental health, to continue to get back on course because it shows you over and over again that you can! You prove to yourself that “you have it in you” that you are good enough that you can do it!
So here’s the thing, if we haven’t taken the time to take a breath, pause, and plot where we need to go, we can end up getting off course. This happens because we haven’t taken the time to develop foundational strategies and habits. At Marriage Helper, we want to teach you how to develop foundational strategies and habits, where you understand what you need to do in order to make the relationship work. Times can be tough. Life can throw a lot of curveballs and leave you reeling… but we’re here to help you start getting back on track TODAY. You can do it!
Don’t give up! You CAN get back on track. It is possible! And, I’m going to talk about some tactical things you can actually do to help you stay on course- even in the middle of when life is trying to take you off course.
Without further ado, here are 5 things I want to encourage you with to help you “keep the course” and move forward (even when it seems like there’s no hope for your marriage… and even in the middle of a pandemic!)
The first is gratitude. Whether you keep a journal, write it in your phone, or talk about it with your kids at dinner, I want you to set a time aside each day for gratitude. Not just to “think” about, but to write down, or say out loud, three things you are grateful for.
For example, maybe you say:
- “I was able to plant all of my garden seeds today.”
- “I was able to make a healthy meal.”
- “I was able to take a walk.”
Or maybe you talk about three things you’re grateful for… your health, your family, your friends… whatever it may be, focus your mind on thinking positive thoughts!
- Remembering your “Why”
Second, remember your GOAL- your vision; Your WHY! Write down your goal. If you’re wanting to save your marriage, write it down. Don’t just write that you want your relationship to be restored- write down why it is important to you.
One of the reasons it can be so easy to get off course is because we forget what our aim is. We can forget where we’re going. (Or if we don’t have a destination, anything we do could get us there. That’s not the best thing.) We want to know where we’re going and we want to know how to get there.
So remember what your goal is! Remember what your vision is for your future, for yourself, or for your relationship, and keep that as a main focus. Put it on your bathroom mirror, your fridge or somewhere you will see it so you remember what you are aiming for. This plays a huge part in being able to stay on course.
- Exercise Regularly
Third, exercise regularly. Now, this might sound trite. I’m a little bit biased because I love exercise, but there are so many good things that exercise does for you- even in just how it increases your dopamine, works with all your hormones and chemicals in your body that help you to feel good, how it keeps you focused, and just the way it starts pumping blood through your body. Exercise has such a positive impact on you!
So get moving! Even a 10 minute walk each day, go out and do it. And, *Bonus* if you get out in the sunshine because vitamin D makes everything better. I won’t get into all of the research (although I could) but if you’re looking to:
- Make your hormone levels better
- Increase the amount of sleep you get each night
- Decrease your hunger signals so you won’t be eating things you don’t need to eat; to control your appetite better
If you’re wanting to just feel better overall, vitamin D from the sun does all of those things! So when you exercise, especially in the sun, it’s going to help you stay on course. It’s going to keep you grounded!
The things that happen in our body when we exercise, when we move, when we get the blood pumping… it starts to make changes within us. I won’t get into the research of how it does that in our mind and in our body… but when it comes to your goal and the course that you’re on, accomplishing something, even walking for 10 minutes a day outside, helps you believe you can do even more!
It’s a great routine for you to have. And, it’s a healthy habit that keeps you focused every. single. Day. It’s something you have control over. Even if it’s raining, you can go for a walk or do a workout inside. It’s something you can choose to do on a day to day basis. When you choose to do it, it makes other decisions in your life even easier to come by.
- Allow Time For Yourself
Fourth, allow time for yourself. It can be so easy to get overwhelmed by external demands… Kids that are in the house asking things of you, things that your spouse is asking, work, whatever it might be, you can feel tapped out at the end of the day.
The more that you give of yourself, the more you need to fill yourself up. But typically that’s not how we do it. We typically give, give, give, then, don’t fill ourselves up and then start all over the next day. We can get burnt out, worn out, stressed out, and want to give up. So be sure that you allow time for yourself!
- Going for a walk, or going out and exercising each morning
- Taking a bath every night (even a bubble bath!)
- Taking a longer shower to have that time of peace
- Setting aside 30 minutes in the middle of your day to have peace & quiet and to do something you enjoy.
The practice of allowing time for yourself is so important in helping you to “stay the course.”
- Take It One Day At A Time
Fifth, take it one day at a time. Yesterday may not have been perfect, but you have the ability to make different choices today. Even if you got off track once.. or twice.. or even seven times, you have the ability to get back on track. You can do this. You can stay on track even when life is trying to throw things at you.
Remember the acronym GREAT. You can head towards greatness by remembering to do these things: Gratitude, Remembering your vision, Exercise, Allowing time for yourself, and taking it a day at a time. You are great and you can continue to become greater by focusing on these things!
Stay the course. I believe in you and I know you can do it. Take these lemons life is throwing at you and make lemonade from it- and I don’t say that tritely- I know it’s hard. I know that in the middle of everything it can feel overwhelming. It can feel like it’s not even possible, but it is. You can prove to yourself that you can do it!
Know that our team at Marriage Helper is rooting for you! We are here to help every step of the way with resources, teachings & tools- for you and your relationship!
I hope that you use this time to stay the course- that you get back on even when you have been knocked down and come out on the other side even better than before!