The opening ceremonies of the Olympics begin today and athletes from all over the world have gathered in London to compete.  Excitement is in the air and the buzz has begun.  Who will be the gold medal winner in swimming, gymnastics, running as well as all the other Olympic events?  It’s astonishing to think about the number of hours each athlete has spent training and the effort they have put into their sport to get to the Olympics. When I hear the personal stories of athletes and what they have sacrificed to be the best in the world, it amazes me.  The dedication and relentless focus is inspiring.

What does it take to be a world class athlete? Research tells us there are 6 basic characteristics every Olympian has established in his/her life. There are additional ones as well but these are the foundational principles. Self-respect and Mental and Emotional Strength – It is one of the most important characteristics for an athlete. Without self-respect, mental and emotional strength, athletes will not believe in themselves and remain committed. They will fall apart under pressure and give up.Passion – Every athlete must have passion towards the sport they play. Passion helps them strive for the best. Self-sacrifice – Athletes must undergo rigid training and give up personal activities to comply with training schedules. Identifying Weaknesses – One of the essential ways to become the best is to overcome weaknesses. An athlete who learns from his/her mistakes can only succeed in the sport.Practice – An inspiring athlete can only develop his skills by regularly practicing the sport. Learning – Every good athlete has a willingness to learn. They learn from their coach and apply the skills they learn to their sport.

Now, you probably already figured out that I was going to link these traits to marriage.  Well, you are right. What does it take to have a world class Marriage? The same 6 principles apply: self-respect, mental and emotional strength, passion, identifying weaknesses, practice and learning. 

If you do not have self-respect you will not be the best partner you can be in your marriage because self-respect allows us to be assertive so we can ask for what we want and need in our relationships. Mental and emotional strength in marriage allows us to think before we act. It gives us the ability to consider how we need to approach a problem instead of just reacting to the issue. Passion keeps us connected and invested in our partner. Identifying weaknesses keeps us consistently working on our relationship so that we never take it for granted. Practice in marriage means I never “arrive” at the perfect place where I can coast. It means I keep doing what I need to do to make sure my marriage is a priority. Learning is key to a world class marriage. We need to be in constant learning mode in marriage so we are gathering all the skills needed to create a healthy marriage. If I don’t know the skills I need, then I find a “coach” to help me learn them. Some of these skills include: healthy communication, conflict resolution, financial management and understanding the role of intimacy in my relationship. Without these skills, I will remain an amateur in my marriage.   

You see, having a world class marriage is a lot like being a world class athlete.  If I will commit myself to focus on these principles daily, I will see my marriage flourish and grow. The next thing you know, I will be standing on the podium of life realizing I have a “gold medal” marriage!