(ARA) - Between two careers, taking care of children and aging parents, running a household and keeping up with your fitness routine, you may often feel as if you and your mate are like race cars on a track. You pass at amazing speeds and if you actually ever do slow down long enough to get a good look at each other, you run the risk of crashing into each other or someone else.
Modern married life can definitely be like a NASCAR race.
Just ask SPEED
television personality Wendy Venturini, who grew up in a NASCAR family and whose husband, Jarrad Egert, is a fuel injection engineer for Toyota Racing Development.
"Balancing work, marriage, kids and everything else in our busy lives can be a challenge for anyone," says Venturini. "Doing that while on the road for 38 weeks (traveling the NASCAR curcuit) can make it even more difficult."
Fortunately, Venturini says, couples can find ways to make their marriage work if they learn some important lessons drawn from the racetrack:
Lesson No.1 - Teamwork is critical.
"Any driver will be the first to tell you they don't succeed alone," Venturini notes. "No one wins a race without teamwork." Just as drivers, pit crew, managers and a host of other team members work together at the racetrack, couples should keep in mind they are part of a team. In her house, Venturini sees that team attitude manifest in simple ways. "Jarrad picks up where I leave off," she says. "If I start the laundry and don't finish folding it, he steps in and does it. We don't have set responsibilities and we don't keep score. We focus on the bigger picture of getting everything done."
Lesson No. 2 - Be flexible.
While it's important to have a plan in life, don't be rigid about adhering to it. Being flexible and adapting to changing circumstances can help you make the most of it when opportunities for togetherness arise. While Venturini and her husband take their young son with them on the road, they have to leave large extended families behind. When the tour stops in Michigan, they seize the opportunity to see Egert's family members who live there. When they're at home in North Carolina, they maximize their time with Venturini's family, who live nearby.
Lesson No. 3 - Make time for pit stops.
A driver who never pulled into the pit to change tires or check out a problem would soon run his vehicle into the ground. Marriages are no different. "You have to make time for each other," Venturini says. "Since we have odd hours, it's important to us to have a date night every week." Some studies show that the average American couple spends as little as three hours together a day because of demands on their time from other commitments. Yet a marriage is the biggest commitment you can make. So just as you set aside hours in the day for work or to work out, you should set aside time each day to reconnect - even if it's just sitting next to each other on the couch after the kids are asleep. And keep the TV turned off.
Lesson No. 4 - Focus on the big picture.
When you're juggling so many detailed chores - from making dinner to helping junior finish his biology project - it's easy to get bogged down in details. But details distract from the bigger picture. "Don't stress over the details and small stuff," Venturini says. "If your relationship is being taken care of, if your children are being taken care of, that's what's important at the end of the day."
You can see Wendy Venturini on SPEED's NASCAR Raceday.