10 “Tough Mudder” Tips to Strengthen Your Marriage
Obstacles. We all encounter them. The “Tough Mudder” competition thrives on designing courses you can’t conquer alone. Each challenge tests not only your physical ability but also your mental toughness.
According to their website: We have one mission: to create a global tribe that lives courage, personal accomplishment, teamwork, and fun. We are stronger together, go farther together, find our best together.
Tough Mudder wants you to experience and overcome something you never thought you could.
That’s a lofty goal, but this organization is doing it. Racers who register solo get paired with others. Because, even if you feel like you are stable on your own, you won’t be for long. You’ll need some support and assistance to tackle several obstacles.
Recently, one of my coaches, David Branderhorst, asked me why I kept running into the same wall.
At that moment, as he challenged my confusion and narrow-sightedness, my perspective shifted. I couldn’t scale the wall on my own; I needed to find another way.
Do you need to find another way?
It might be around the obstacle, over it with the help of others, or even under it. But there is a way.
Not everyone who competes in a Tough Mudder race is an athlete.
Some people do it as a way to raise funds for a cause. Others get talked into competing with friends. Still, some use this as a team-building event for their organization. In the first six years of the race’s existence, over three million people challenged themselves to see if they could handle whatever the course dished out.
What the course always shows a participant: You can’t do it alone.
In too many marriages, we try to scale obstacles alone, or we believe we need to keep them hidden.
But, when we do, the pain heightens, the wounds deepen, and hope diminishes. What if, instead of our painful solo attempts to overcome, we adopt the Tough Mudder attitude?
10 Ways to Tough Mudder-Up Your Marriage:
- Adjust your attitude.
If your marriage struggles, it can be a significant challenge to stay positive. Couples who wait to get help — on average as long as six years — develop negative attitudes and coping mechanisms. To strengthen your marriage, you must change your perspective. This takes internal, daily work, and a willingness to cling to hope when it looks hopeless.
2. Face your fears.
Any time you tackle an obstacle, you face your fears. Fear can be healthy. Your nervousness can force you to action.
Today, take time to write out your fears. Be specific. Get them down in black and white and see them for what they are. Often seeing them written out takes away some of the stings.
When my husband and I were in our marriage crisis, one of my fears was that this addiction would be a constant presence. Another one was that we’d divorce and I’d have to figure out life alone (I like being married). It helped me to write them down, so they didn’t have to swim around in my mind all day.
3. Claim your voice.
Often when you encounter a marriage crisis, one partner feels silenced. Whether you were wronged or did the “wronging” — you have a right to your feelings. You do not need to remain silent because you are unique, precious, and deeply loved by God the Father. You are vital to making this marriage work. If you feel you can’t voice your pain, it’s time to get some help.
4. Find your fuel.
Obstacles tend to drain us. If you feel depleted, it’s time to plug into your power source. You can do that through consistent time reading the Scriptures and talking with God about what’s going on. He’s deeply invested and interested in you.
Tough Mudders and overcomers learn to adequately fuel up before, during, and after the challenge. You cannot win the race when you are depleted. You cannot even finish the race when exhausted.
Decide today to plug into your Source.
5. Erect smart boundaries.
Struggling marriages are vulnerable to the slightest temptation. Now is the time to put extreme caution in place in all your relationships. Don’t fall into the trap of talking with a person of the opposite sex about your problems. You need encouragement, but not from that source. Your marriage will survive this obstacle, but you must protect it even though you are angry, hurt, and struggling.
6. Select a team.
Even solo entrants in the Tough Mudder get paired with a team. Though you can tackle some obstacles on your own, most need help or are more comfortable with others to lend a hand.
Do you have a couple or a couple of couples you can trust? If not, that’s an indicator you’re too isolated — time to give up the solo act and find some teammates.
7. Seek help.
Along with some teammates to encourage you both, find a good coach or counselor.
The question you must answer at this point is, “How much is your marriage worth? What are you willing to do and spend to repair your broken marriage?” We had to answer this question early in our recovery. The truth is the money is always there for what you value. Please see, through the pain, the high value of your marriage’s health.
Your marriage isn’t just about the two of you. It affects friendships, children, neighbors, grandparents, parents, teachers, and those around you.
If you were on the Tough Mudder course, ignoring an obstacle would not make it disappear. Looking the other way, does not mean the wall you need to scale is gone. It’s still there. You want to act like it’s not there.
This obstacle in your marriage won’t go away on its own. You need a helping hand.
8. Grab a garbage bag.
In the process of overcoming your marriage problems, you will get dirty. Some attitudes, choices, practices, and habits need to change — for both of you. Most likely, they’ll need to be trashed. Just like a Tough Mudder’s post-race clothing, you need a trash bag to discard the muck and mire. List what you intend to toss and encourage your spouse to do the same.
9. Adopt new habits.
Once you’ve identified and discarded the old habits, attitudes, choices, and practices, you’ll need to adopt new ones. You might say you need a new set of clothes after your Tough Mudder.
God tells us that our old ways are like filthy rags. He wants to give us beautiful garments of grace, love, forgiveness, mercy, and unconditional love. You wouldn’t put your wedding dress on over old stinky clothes.
10. Adopt your true identity.
Hardships of life, others, obstacles, and wounds brand us with various names: loser, failure, cheater, unloved, invisible, fat, ugly, slimy, mean, bossy, whiny, addict, weak, traitor, liar, crook, worthless. I’m sure you can add to this list. But, God says your identity is in your relationship with Jesus Christ, who died, was buried, and rose again to redeem you from all sin. All of it. The only way you and your marriage will heal is to recognize and accept your worth as a child of God.
Just like the Tough Mudder competitors, you need help from others.
You need to fuel up, approach the race with the right attitude, clothed correctly, and ready to dig deep.
Imagine you are competing in a Tough Mudder race, and your teammate can’t conquer an obstacle.
What would you do?
Now apply that same attitude to your marriage.
In my case, it meant forgiving my husband for his betrayal. It also meant admitting my destructive character traits and exchanging them for more Christ-like behavior.
Changing my attitude and behavior didn’t happen overnight. And it won’t. It will continue until I die. That’s the beauty of a covenant relationship. It marinates slowly over the years until your marriage is a tender, loving picture of Christ’s love for all of us. No wonder the enemy of our souls attacks your marriage at every opportunity.