Have you noticed how many married, or soon to be married, couples compete in the Olympics as pair skaters? I hadn’t paid much attention to this until my friend, Julie, suggested that I watch the video of Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo’s Olympic skating performance. Their skating was indeed spectacular, but Julie’s comment that the chemistry between them reflected their personal relationship got me thinking.
Ice skating at the Olympic level demands not only an intense physical partnership but also an emotional and spiritual one. The level of trust and total dependence each partner needs to bestow on the other is huge. Crushing disappointments and unexpected glitches are unavoidable and meteoric success brings its own challenges. You might think that a high-pressure, demanding shared career is the last thing a marriage needs.
Or perhaps, the truth is exactly the opposite. These partnerships should be the paradigm for marriage rather than the exception. Couples who skate together merge into one entity that is greater than either of them individually. Each skater has his or her personal training and moves, feelings and challenges, but the focus is on the accomplishments of the unit. The couple’s intense concentration on their skating means that they succeed or fail, improve or deteriorate as one.
Somehow, I don’t see them arguing over who will dry the dishes or bring in the groceries, anymore than your right leg argues with your left leg over which works harder. Everything is viewed in terms of the partnership.
Most couples have no dreams of Olympic stardom. But each and every couple should have a vision and an aspiration for themselves as a married unit. If marriage means more than two people sharing a roof and a bank account, what that “more” is, is worthy of discussion. Once there is a purpose that is greater than the two people involved, a third and new entity is formed. Paradoxically, yielding to that higher objective turns out to be the best road to a fulfilling life for each individual.