My wife and I had a history of making incorrect assumptions and holding those assumptions against the other. Now, at first blush most will wonder why we even stayed together. Well, the truth of what we did writes out a little uglier than how it manifested in the marriage. For the most part, we had a fairly decent run of it and were happy more days than not. There were trouble spots, though.
Take, for instance, cycling.
Ooh, my wife and I could get into some gnarly fights whilst on our bicycles – and I was a complete d*** when certain buttons were pushed… and believe me, my wife liked pushing those buttons. On several occasions I’d ride off in a fit of anger and leave her to her own. I felt justified, at least at the time, of course, and we’d make up sure and soon enough.
We purchased our tandem on a lark to hopefully get our kids into cycling. It’s a neat bike that allows for the stoker’s position to be easily modified to fit anyone from 5′ to 6′. This meant my wife could be fitted as well as both girls in a matter of minutes. Sadly, our daughters never took to cycling, so my wife and I rode the tandem now and again.
At the start of the Covid pandemic, we decided to ride the tandem more. Nobody else was riding together, so we figured we may as well ride the tandem so we could talk while we rode. I loved it, and my wife was pretty happy as well. We instituted a “Sunday Funday” where our pace was kept to a reasonable 16 to 18-mph average. We rode the tandem every week and both grew to enjoy the bike – we even became quite enthusiastic about it – as long as we weren’t trying to ride too fast. If we got involved in a fast ride, my unstoppable desire to stay with the lead group would mess with our serenity. We got into a few heated debates if we struggled when a Sunday Funday devolved into a fast group ride.
I thought it was my wife’s fault because I was strong and fast. My wife thought it was my fault because I always had to be up front – I couldn’t just be happy to ride our own pace. And that gets fun in a minute (because my wife was a lot more right than I was).
I had a massive awakening in March of this year (2022). I saw, for the first time in my life, all of my flaws laid out before me and I did not like who I was. Being in recovery from alcoholism, I knew exactly what to do to fix those flaws and I didn’t hesitate. My wife didn’t get a free pass on her issues, but mine were the only one’s I could fix, so I got to it.
My wife, if you asked her, would tell you that I am a changed man. Reformed and healed down to my baby toes.
With that process of allowing my defects of character to be fixed, my wife and I fell in love again. We started riding the tandem a lot. To the extent we both have more miles on the tandem that the single bikes this year (I have more miles on the tandem that both road bikes combined this year).
I made my amends for my past behavior and have set about making it right with my wife – and my wife made her amends and went to work on her issues as well. In the end, I came to see that having fun with my wife is vastly better than being able to ride fast. Riding with my wife has been the most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels.
Tomorrow, we’ll be riding a pre-ride of a main event on our tandem but we’re going to opt for the 64-mile route rather than the full 100-miler I’ve done for the last decade. My wife asked if I’d really rather ride a single bike with my friends – something I never would have passed on in the past… and I said, simply, “My past behavior when we rode together has been being a jerk, leaving you on your own in a temper tantrum and of not being a very nice guy. I’d like to change that. There’s no place I’d rather be than on the tandem with you”.
Folks, it’s this simple; when you love each other enough, a tandem is easy. There’s no place I’d rather be.