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  • Writer's pictureSam

Marriage is Like Football: Running Backs

We are in our series on how marriage, or any significant relationship, is like

. We are looking at every position in turn and trying to learn something from each. This time it is the fairly glamorous position of Running Back.

The Running Backs’ job is, well, to run. The running back does not normally receive the snap from the Center (see an earlier blog) but usually receives the ball from the Quarterback. While the Running Back can catch passes, the way he almost always gets the ball is through a hand-off. This seemingly simple transaction is fraught with difficulties and many fumbles occur during this transition.

That is because it usually the case that both players are moving, almost always in opposite directions—the quarterback backwards or sideways and the Running Back forward. The first task of the running back is to be predictable. The quarterback often hands off the ball before he actually sees the Running Back. He simply knows and expects the Running Back to be where he ought to be at the time he ought to be there.

As spouses, we need to be predictable so that our partners can count on us to take their handoffs. We need to be where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there.

The second job of the Running Back is to hold onto the ball, to take that which has been entrusted to them and hold it securely. Even if no ground is gained, if the Running Back can be trusted to keep the ball (the relationship, the secret, the love) secure, that is enough.

Finally, the Running Back’s job is to find the hole created by the “O” Line and run through it. As he runs, he needs to be constantly looking for more opportunities, new holes to open up. If he is hit, he needs to keep his legs moving, pumping, and not give up. It is important, as married people, to “keep at it,” to not give up, and to keep working at advancing the ball until we simply cannot move any longer. Many a gain in relationships has come because one partner has just given it one, final, hard push in an attempt to break through.

Is there anything your partner has tried to hand off to you that you weren't expecting? Is there anything you've fumbled? Is there anything you wish your partner would hand off to you which he or she may be holding on to? Where has your partner opened up a hole for you to run through? Have you done it? Have you thanked them?

Then, sometimes, you don’t run but pass instead . . . next time, Wide Receiver . . .

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