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Staying in Step

How walking with your spouse can keep you connected

"Would you like to go for a walk?"

That question, posed to me more than 30 years ago on a small college campus in Saskatchewan, began a relationship—and routine—that continue today. I hate to exercise, but I love to walk with my husband, Tim. Walking has become a free, easy way to care for our health.

And walking has also taken us to some amazing places. While serving as missionaries in Ecuador, we traversed jungle trails, climbed volcanic mountains, and strolled along tropical beaches. Now back in Canada, we love meandering through our neighborhood and hiking beside the sea.

But beyond expanding our horizons and pumping up our heart rate, walking with my husband has improved our communication and livened up our marriage. Here's how to walk your way to …


As most couples do, Tim and I spend much of the day apart. So after dinner, we head out for a half hour of walking to reconnect. We've made this habit a priority over the years because we've seen numerous benefits in spending time together away from our house. We forget about the computer, television, and unending household chores, and simply concentrate on each other. Conversation comes naturally. We chat about our children, our jobs, or our recent reading. And we share our concerns so we can pray for each other with more focus.

When we're upset and don't feel like connecting, a walk outside provides a neutral ground. Not long ago, I was peeved by Tim's unwillingness to replace our dilapidated sofa. As we set out on our walk—in silence—my bottled-up feelings simmered to a boil. But walking released my tension, and finally my words gushed out. In response, Tim told me he'd felt manipulated by my demands. We agreed to discuss the matter later; and although we don't yet have new furniture, we've begun to shop. Walking with someone and staying angry with him are difficult. I know—because I've tried.


In our early days of walking, Tim's quick pace left me huffing and puffing in frustration. I had to stretch my five-foot, four-inch frame to keep up with my six-foot husband. But my pride prohibited me from saying anything. Over the years, I've become more accepting of my shortcomings. Now if Tim sets off at too brisk a pace, I ask, "Are we racing somewhere?" He's also become more sensitive to my shorter legs. On hiking trails, he lets me take the lead, or he stops frequently to turn and check on me. His sensitivity to my capabilities makes me feel cherished.

Our partnership on the walking trails has led to sensitivity and acceptance in other areas of our marriage as well. We've learned asking for help doesn't mean we're less capable. So instead of dragging groceries into the house by myself, or struggling alone to get dinner on the table, I ask Tim for help. And if Tim's working on a project and needs a board steadied while he saws into it, he asks me for help. As two independent thinkers, we've stopped expecting each other to read minds, and instead started telling each other when we need assistance. 


By bringing our minds together, we return from every walk a little smarter. Many evenings, I'm still wrestling with the day's knotty problems, whether relationship issues, spiritual questions, or workplace dilemmas. While recently teaching a semester of eighth-grade French, I left school daily at my wit's end, uncertain how to manage several sullen, disrespectful students. I could hardly articulate the confusion tangled in my mind. But as I walked and talked with Tim, I began to unravel my worries and plan a new approach to the situation. This isn't surprising, since, according to a study published in Nature magazine, walking increases thinking skills. On walks, Tim and I have also come up with ideas for completing home-repair projects and strategies for handling difficult people.


Despite the benefits of walking, sometimes I'd rather sit on my couch and eat potato chips than lace up my gym shoes and get moving. On those days, I agree to "just a short walk" to the end of our street. But by the time I reach the stop sign, I feel less lethargic and carry on. My mind and body work together to increase those feel-good hormones, endorphins, that make me happier.

Still, I didn't feel like walking one Sunday morning last summer when Tim woke up with the idea of a 25-minute walk to church. We'd done it before; but this day I'd planned to wear a skirt and strappy sandals. I gave in with bad grace, yet ended up enjoying our jaunt in the pleasant morning air.

Walking home was different. Light rain fell. And my hair—along with my temper—frizzed. Tim, knowing my initial reluctance to walk, apologized repeatedly. I reveled in his misery, inwardly gloating, I told you so! Then, halfway home, I realized I could make us both suffer, or I could make the best of a bad situation. My damp clothes would soon dry, and my hair, well, it would calm down. I reached for Tim's hand, and we laughed over the unpredictable weather.


Walking outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature together have created many wonderful memories. Recently, Tim and I packed a lunch and hiked along the nearby Strait of Juan de Fuca. On a rocky bluff overlooking the water, we ate our meal while we watched seals swim, observed the sails of distant boats, and admired the Olympic Mountains' snowy peaks. As we snuggled together and drank steaming tea, a bald eagle soared past so close we could hear the wind in his wings. We hugged each other in delight.

 I thank God for small moments such as that one. French actress Simone Signoret once said, "Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years. That is what makes a marriage last." Through each of our shared experiences, Tim and I have strengthened our bond.

Let walking together become one of the tiny threads that stitch your marriage into a strong, beautiful relationship. Tonight, take the first step on a lifelong journey of companionship with just one simple question: "Would you like to go for a walk?"

Lorrie Orr is a freelance writer who lives in Canada.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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