Climbing a mountain is hard. It requires an incredible degree of dedication and unyielding determination. There is rarely a sense of relief or a time for relaxation. Instead, there is simply more mountain, steeper slopes and further challenge.
In his incredible book about a disastrous expedition on Mt. Everest, Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer describes the almost unfathomable challenges faced by his climbing party.
There is the expected peril with inexperienced climbers falling off of cliffs and unfortunate circumstances where groups get caught in unexpected blizzards near the summit. However, the message that sticks with me from this and other books documenting mountain climbing adventures is the tragedy that so often results from a climber who hasn't committed fully to the mission.
Apparently, when conditions turn extreme, inexperienced adventurers notoriously turn toward complacency and seek a sense of comfort. Feeling that they have already come so far and doubting their ability to finish the climb in harsh conditions, a climber may seek rest and relief.
Unfortunately, the decision to rest in a valley rather than pushing ahead up the mountain is too often the on-doing of less experienced climbers. Once they get comfortable, it seems they can no longer muster the motivation to get out of the valley.
But I Don't Climb Mountains
Of course, Your Tango is not about mountain climbing, and my experience in extreme adventures is limited to book form (at least so far). So, how does this concept apply to those of us living near sea level?
I first heard the term "Valley Living" as part of a marriage retreat my wife and I attended a few months ago. And I immediately thought back to the accounts of mountain climbing that I had read and saw definite parallels.
Valley Living refers to our tendency to find a comfort zone and "live there" rather than expend the effort to pursue excellence. We ALL find ourselves chilling out in the valleys of life from time-to-time, and that's to be expected.
It's unrealistic to be climbing ALL of the proverbial mountains of everyday life at ALL times. But, we should always be striving for excellence by focusing on improving at least one area of our lives. This keeps us moving forward and prevents us from withering up inside of our comfort zone.
Where Are the Valleys that You Hang Out?
In what areas of your life do you tend to take it easy and hang out in your comfort zone? The laziness of valley living can show up in any aspect of everyday living: health, finances, parenting, career, communication, romance, and spirituality to name a few.
The implications of living in a valley in any area can be profound when it comes to our marriages.
For example, when I have let my fitness slide in the past, I have less energy and less self-esteem. This affects my family life and my relationship with my wife. On the flip side, when I am going "all-in" in my pursuit of health and I feel great about myself, my energy levels are through the roof and I am simply a sexier guy to live with. The same can be said of any area of life: they all effect your spouse and your marriage, for better or worse.
So, what areas of life have you allowed to slip into sluggishness? Isn't it time that you pulled yourself out of the comforts of mediocrity and focused on climbing to new heights?
Isn't it time for you to be passionate about your marriage and do something about it?
Do it for yourself. Do it for your spouse. Do it for your marriage!