How Tandem Bike Riding Tested Our Marriage

4 Tips for Working Together in Marriage

There is a lesson in everything! A few weeks ago my wife and I joined some of our friends for a “fun” outing. This “fun” outing was riding tandem bikes at our downtown canal. All I have to say is if you are considering marriage, go tandem bike riding before saying I do!

How Tandem Bike Riding Tested Our Marriage - JackieBledsoe.com - Growing Family Leaders

Tandem biking sounds good…just like marriage

My wife and I had just finished a 3-week marriage course, The Art of Marriage, from Family Life. This was our date night to celebrate with three other couples. I was thinking, “Bike riding, downtown, on the canal…this is gonna be a cool date!” Then we hopped on that tandem bike. All those nice feelings went away…quickly!

In tandem biking, much like marriage, fighting for control can end in disaster. What my wife found out pretty quickly was she had zero control while on the back of a tandem bike. What I quickly learned was I didn’t have much control if I didn’t help her to feel comfortable while on the back of a tandem bike!

Tandem biking can be madness…just like marriage

The biggest issue we had was in direct relation to our personalities. My goal was to make sure we got back safely. I wanted to see ahead, take my time, and enjoy the ride. My wife, she just wanted to ride out!  To her this wasn’t a joy ride, but a thrill ride.

When I slowed to allow people to pass or move to the side, she felt I was breaking and resisted. I assumed she saw the people in front of us, but I learned after the ride she could see very little. Many times she was unaware of what was happening in front of us.

I’ll be honest, at one point it got to be frustrating!

Tandem biking can be wonderful…just like marriage

The frustration slowly began to go away after we reconnected with the other couples, and they shared their (similar) experiences.

The biggest lesson came when one couple shared their experience of trading places. When they began to see the ride from the other person’s perspective, they began to understand what it was like to lead, and what it was like to follow. Both were equally challenging.

In hindsight, it was a test, but it was fun. I learned a few things about tandem bike riding and marriage.  These lessons have helped my marriage, and can do the same for yours.

Here are 4 tips for enjoying tandem bike riding and marriage:

  1. Don’t quit when it gets rough. The first few minutes of our ride were tough. It was a challenge just getting on and getting started without hurting one another. But after we rode for a while the ride became a little better. I’m sure the next time we ride we can enjoy it much more.
  2. Keep talking. One of our biggest problems was a lack of communication. I assumed she knew when I was going to slow down, and why. She had no idea, and wondered (often loudly) why I was breaking. The couple that switched places shared how important it was to know what the other person was doing, and why.
  3. Stay in sync. If she leaned left to look around me, the bike swayed. If she was pedaling when I was not, we both began to lose control. But when we were both in sync and pedaling together, the ride was smooth.
  4. Love the ride. We can both say, in hindsight, the tandem bike ride was a great experience. We both wish we had taken the time to enjoy the ride a little more. It’s the same with marriage: it may not be exactly as you expected, but the ride can be fun if you have the right perspective and work together.

If you haven’t tried tandem biking, I suggest you do.  Just make sure you have your counselor nearby, or some good friends to help you through some of the issues that may come up as a result. 😉

Question: Have you had a “fun” experience that tested your marriage? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

photo credit: Sarah Parrott via photopin cc

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • hahaha yes – KAYAKING in one kayak. Never again! Mr Parris turned into Mr. Grumpy pants constantly telling me I was doing it wrong. Before long I wanted to whack him with the paddle. (and I am a relationship expert!) Since then, we’ve learned to have lots of fun in separate vessels. 🙂

  • Excellent post and tips, Jackie. I can just imagine. I wish I was riding nearby you two, lol. This is something I would try for the fun of it. We’ve learned a similar lesson canoeing. I often sit in the back of the canoe, and my wife in the front. The person in the back carries the ride, while the person in the front helps the steering, but you both have to be in sync and yes, keep talking.

    I like this example you gave and will use it for marriage counseling, and it’s also applicable for leadership training. Imagine that! lol.

    • Isn’t it amazing how applicable these lessons are across the board, Alex. Thanks for sharing!

  • erikdeckers

    I would say the two biggest lessons would be trust (actually, “trust first, question later”) and communicate clearly.

    There have been times that my wife and I are in situations where one of us just needs the other to “do what I need you to do. Don’t ask questions.” We trust each other enough to know that, in those moments, we need to act first, and then we can find out the “why” later, through clear communication.

    While that sounds like a very “front of the bike” philosophy, it does get interesting when you’re not the one in front anymore.

    • I like it. And I can relate as we’ve had similar situations. Thanks for sharing, Erik!

  • Great post Jackie. There are certainly life lessons to be learned in everything. Tandem riding is not in our future. We’ve been married 34 yrs. and we’d like to keep it that way. For us I think it’s more of a know your limits thing. Why incite a riot.

  • mystylane

    Love this post! I can definitely relate. My husband and I started tandem riding a couple of years ago. The learning period offered each of us hurt feelings. But we persevered and now it is one of our favorite activities to do together! (at 55 years old!) My blog was inspired by our tandem riding experiences. 🙂

    • Thanks, mystylane! 🙂

      Yes, tandem bike riding can be fun, I’m looking forward to warm weather so we can do it again. What is your blog’s URL?

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