If you’re in your 40’s or older, you, like me, can remember the phenomenon that was Mike Tyson in the 1980’s. Before the freak show, before the rape conviction, before Buster Douglas shocked the world (and Tyson) by beating him in 1990, “Kid Dynamite” was an unstoppable force in the boxing ring, and he was a cultural icon outside of it.
And so it was with his usual confidence that, when asked at a press conference about his upcoming opponent’s boast that he had a plan to beat “Iron Mike,” Tyson responded with his now famous line,
“Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
I think of that quote often whenever I meet with clients who are unhappy in their relationship because it has turned into something that they didn’t want it to be. On your wedding day, you said, “For better or worse,” but the very real possibility of “or worse” seemed so unlikely when you were so in love, so happy, so looking forward to your lives together…
And then life punched you in the mouth.
You lost your job and money got tight. He wasn’t as involved with the kids as you thought he’d be. She was frequently “too tired” for intimacy. The in-laws became overly intrusive in your lives. You had hoped for a lifetime of happiness; did you plan for one?
You see, having a plan is far better than having a hope. Do you hope for retirement, or do you plan for it? Do you hope you will be able to pay for your child’s tuition, or do you plan for it? Do you hope that the big event turns out ok, or do you plan for it?
Plan to be successful in your relationship by often asking yourself, “What am I doing to be happy in this relationship? How am I contributing to the success of our marriage? When can I do more for us?” Notice that the focus is on what I am or am not doing, not on what your partner is or is not doing. When you work daily on the health of your relationship, it is much more likely that your partner will, too.
Despite the best of plans, though, life will still punch you in the mouth sometimes. When that happens, don’t abandon planning altogether; evaluate, re-formulate, and make a new plan! I would follow a man with a plan and prayer quicker than I’d follow someone with just a prayer.
How many boxers abandoned their plan whenever Tyson pummelled him with those legendary fists? By his own account, Buster Douglas weathered Mike’s fury and stuck to his plan, and that’s what made him a champion.
Your relationship will be tested. Plan for it.