May 26 • 6M

Marriage Rule #1: Don't do the Hokey Cokey... or was it the Hokey Pokey?

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Honest, candid and straightforward ideas for living a fulfilling life and reaching our potential. Hiya. I'm Matthew Royston, the husband of one, father of four, and The Bold Brit [honest, candid, Inspiring]. I grew up in Bristol, England but currently enjoy living in Utah, United States. I want to live a fulfilling life, reach my potential, and help others do the same. I have concluded that progress in our personal development, robust personal relationships, deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ, and having a healthy body and mind are the core components of a fulfilling life. The rest of life is often insignificant, or unimportant.
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The first time I sang the Hokey Cokey in front of Cassandra she insisted that I had sung it wrong. She was absolutely certain that I was meant to say Hokey Pokey. Well it turns out we’re both right! Like many things, we Brits and Americans like to call the same thing by different names.

There are some variations to how the songs are sung in each version but the central theme exists. You can probably sing it now, “you put your left arm in, your left arm out, in-out-in-out, and shake it all about… that’s what it’s all about”. I have fond memories doing this as a child and now as I get to do it with my own children.

Going in and out and shaking it all about may be fun at a child’s birthday party, but when it comes to marriage, being in and out is certainly not what it’s all about! But it certainly will shake your relationship all about.

Commitment is the first rule of marriage.

Let me share three examples that illustrate why commitment is essential.

Example One

We’ve all watched someone attempt a flip on a trampoline who only gets halfway before coming down hard on their neck! It hurts like hell and can be very dangerous, even on a trampoline.

If you are going to attempt a flip you have to be committed. You have to go for it. Even a slight over-rotation or landing awkwardly on your butt or back is better than landing and potentially breaking your neck. To stop halfway, on a trampoline or in our marriage, is both stupid and dangerous.

Example Two

Many years ago we went cliff jumping off the Cornish coast. I will always remember watching as my sister dangerously wobbled and almost fell down the sheer rock face of the cove where we were jumping. How did this happen? Just as she started the motion of jumping, she hesitated and changed her mind. My dad vowed we would never go back after this, and to the best of my knowledge, we never have. Hesitating and changing our mind can prove dangerous if not fatal in both marriage and in life.

Example Three

Several people in my wife’s family like to remind me of the time Cassandra and I got into a fight during a visit and I drove the three hours home and then immediately turned back around and drove back. I don’t remember what the fight was about but what I roller coaster! Talk about being in and out! That experience shook our relationship all about.


If I’ve learned anything over the past 10-years, it’s that creating a happy and successful marriage requires work and dedication. It takes commitment. Anyone can create a crappy and unsuccessful marriage, you probably know plenty of people like this.

Commitment means we put our whole selves in and stay in. Not only for the fun and comfortable parts, but also the hellish and painful parts too.

Let me share one last idea with you. To reach the summit of a mountain, one passes via the gorgeous scenery and plateau vistas, but climbing also causes fatigue and pain in the body. But the committed hiker continues on, taking the next step and pausing when necessary.

The truth is, hiking hurts! At least it has caused me discomfort. So why bother climbing at all?

My answer; because the view and feeling you get from the top is worth every step it took you to get there!

I have not reached the summit of marriage. I have hard days, sometimes even years. But I am in. I am committed. I am not coming down the mountain. I am not breaking my neck on the trampoline. I am not falling down the cliff face. I am not in and out nor shaking it all about.

So many of the best and most treasured moments of my marriage have occurred after struggle and difficulty. Had I chosen to be out, my life would be less full than it is today. I’m certain it’ll be the same for you.

I hope this helps.


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