Keepin’ Love Alive: Sprint!

About six months ago I began exercising consistently by running on a treadmill. In discussion with others who exercise I often hear that treadmill running is too boring for them. Granted, anything we do again and again without variation can indeed get boring

So while treadmill running may not be the most exciting activity I’ve learned a few tricks to help keep it fun for me. And one of those is sprinting to the end.

When I get close to the end of my workout each day I try to sprint to complete the next quarter mile before my time runs out. While my workout would still be complete without such a challenge, it does add a little bit of excitement and variety to an otherwise routine activity.

As we near the end of 2014 many of you have done an excellent job of keeping love alive this year. You’ve gone on dates, watched a tv show or two together, maybe even played on a sports team together or helped each other complete a project. It has been a good endurance race and you’ve almost completed another year of keepin’ love alive.

But with this year has also come routine. And while routine is important in giving us daily structure, predictability, safety and security, it can also lead to boredom. And we all know boredom is a killer, especially in relationships.

So while you likely can coast to the end of 2014 and keep love alive, just like I can casually jog to the finish line of my workout each day, may I suggest we all pick a challenge to complete by the end of 2014. A goal that will help us sprint to the end to help keep love alive.

What this challenge will be is totally up to you. But I do know that working on a goal together, as a couple, is one of the greatest ways to bond a relationship.

Many of you have played team sports and watched your children play team sports too. As you’ve done this you’ve seen the bonding power that happens as teams unite and work together on a common goal. Let us harness this same power in our couple relationships by picking a goal together, with our spouse, and competing against the clock to get it done by the end of 2014.

My wife has done an amazing job of remodeling our house this year. She has picked different deadlines by which she wanted each job complete. As those dates have neared I have taken a day or two off of work to help out.

While the completed projects look awesome, I have enjoyed even more the bonding that has come as we worked together to complete the projects. And having a deadline just made the challenge that much more exciting and rewarding. 

So maybe you and your spouse have a project or two to complete. Maybe you both have an exercise goal. Maybe you both want to start exercising. Whatever the goal, instead of waiting to start in 2015, and then trying to keep yourself motivated for the whole year, harness the power of the few seconds remaining in 2014 to get yourself in gear now, get moving, and finish strong by sprinting to the end.

Wouldn’t it be great on New Years Eve to look back knowing you and your spouse successfully sprinted to the end by losing a pound each from now until then? Or as the clock rings midnight to finish the last few words of the that book you’ve always wanted to read together?

There’s motivation in teamwork. There’s motivation in deadlines. And there’s power in bonding as we work together to meet a deadline. And that’s the exact power we need to bond our marriages together.

Many of us are getting to lax in our relationships. Much like treadmill running we simply go through motions, step after step, day after day. And then when the boredom gets too much to handle, we quit.

I understand why people quit running on treadmills. But with some good music and a challenge to sprint to the end I look forward to my treadmill time each day.

Don’t let routine in your relationship take over and lead to boredom. Harness the power of teamwork. Harness the power of a challenge. Harness the power of the ticking clock by choosing a goal together to complete before midnight on New Years Eve.

Then you can look forward, with challenge at hand , and do all you can to sprint to the end. To work together. To overcome the challenges and obstacles that will attempt to make you fail.

But don’t give in, hold strong, compete together against these obstacles, and against the  expiring clock of 2014, and  indeed you will have a reason to kiss and celebrate when the clock strikes midnight and 2015 begins.

You will have accomplished your goal. You will have bonded your relationship. And you will have harnessed the power of the remaining days of 2014 by accepting the challenge to sprint to the end to bond your relationship.

Enjoy the challenge. Enjoy choosing the goal. And enjoy working together as you sprint during the last few months of 2014 to help keep love alive.

Remember, couple relationships are easier than you think, but harder than you act.

For more information on couple relationships, visit 

Mark Anderson, MS, LIMHP is a mental health therapist specializing in couples therapy. He is in private practice in Scottsbluff at Oregon Trail Mental Health. He can be reached at (308) 635-2800 or online at

Keepin’ Love Alive: POW’s

Early in my marriage I learned that my wife doesn’t have the same sense of humor as my single guy friends did when I was growing up. Although it sounds like a basic idea, it’s still an “FYI” that I give to every groom when I attend a wedding. 

One way I learned this vital lesson was on a camping trip shortly after our marriage. For some reason that I no longer recall, I was holding a rock over my wife’s foot.

In all kidding, I made a gesture that I was going to drop it on her foot. She said “You wouldn’t dare”…….and so I did (Did I mention this was before I went to  school to become a marriage therapist?).

On that cold and bitter night (and, by the way, it was summer, if you get my hint) it became clear to me that she did not share the same sense of humor that my guy friends did. 

Over the following years I  made many additional mistakes in my marriage, as we all have. But she remembers very few of them. Except the time I dropped the rock on her foot.

There’s an old saying that time heals all wounds. Boy that sure would be handy now. But if this weren’t a public newspaper and I wasn’t a Christian man, I’d tell you exactly what I thought of such a ridiculous quote.

The good news is time helps heal many wounds. And we should be thankful for that since we all make more mistakes than we should. But for some wounds, time is not enough.

Known as “Points of Wounding” (or “POW’s” for short), some wounds do not clear with time. Like dropping a rock on your wife’s foot. Did I mention that happened in front of a group of people? And that it was before I went to school to become a marriage therapist?

When couples come in for therapy, they often focus on the current concerns. Maybe they argue too much. Or don’t spend time together. Or don’t communicate well.

While it is important to help people be happy in the current, no one can be fully happy until POW’s have been addressed and the healing process has begun.

Foolish partners simply say to the other “It’s in the past, would you just let it go?” While such sounds good in theory, and the offended spouse, too, wishes it were that easy, that’s not how healing occurs from POW’s.

But since couples often can’t come to terms with these POW’s they often stop discussing them, and years go by. But the healing really hasn’t occurred.

I remember one of the first POW’s I ever worked with. It occurred nine years before the couple started therapy. And they hadn’t discussed the event in years either. 

It was not the main reason they sought therapy. In fact, they never even mentioned it. But one night, by pure accident, the topic came up.

They both became defensive and started to justify why their side of the story was right. It quickly became evident why they hadn’t discussed it in years, since doing so was only causing more damage.

But it also became very evident that time had not healed this wound. In fact, a seemingly harmless discussion about the event soon had the couple in an emotional uproar. Yet the event had occurred nearly a decade ago.

But being a professional, I helped them discuss this POW in a new a different way. A way they had never tried, but was absolutely necessary to help heal a POW.

For a POW, the actual event is not as important as what the event signified to each person. My wife being upset that I dropped the rock on her foot was really not about the rock.

Yet my untrained tendency was to justify why the dropping of the rock was not that big of a deal. But to fix a POW, we must dig deeper than the actual event. We must get to what that event really meant to each person.

For my wife, it wasn’t about the rock, it was about respect. It was about treating her, in front of others, like a queen. It was about showing that she was someone special. And dropping a rock on her foot showed none of those.

Once my wife and I could talk about the real meaning of the event, healing started to happen. Had we never been able to, I’m certain it would still be a POW today.

While we need not discuss with such depth every disagreement we have, when time doesn’t help heal a wound, it’s likely a POW that’s going to need a little more TLC to help the healing process occur.

For more tips on keeping your love alive, visit

Remember, couple relationships are easier than you think, but harder than you act.

Mark Anderson, MS, LIMHP is a mental health therapist specializing in couples therapy at Oregon Trail Mental Health in Scottsbluff. To contact him call 635-2800 or visit online at

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