What does Tom Brady have to do with turning a relationship around?

Whether you are a fan or not, Tom Brady is an NFL legend. This most recent Super Bowl win might have been one of his greatest achievements (even if it wasn’t one of his most memorable performances). What made this feat so impressive was 43-year-old Brady led the Bucs team, who were 7-9 and hadn’t won a playoff game in 13 years, to the Super Bowl. As a leader, he took the reins and marched this team to championship. This was his 7th time to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

I have always been impressed with Brady. I am not necessarily a fan, but maybe I should reconsider that. I have complete respect for the dedication and habits this man displays. If we zoom in on some of his habits, we can see why he is so successful. We can learn something about the daily habits of the athletic mentally tough and how these can be applied to couples in a relationship in distress! In this article, I break down some of his habits and look at how they might be applied to a couple who is struggling and feel like they are in a rut.

First, let’s look at Brady’s dedication. In an interview with CBS, Brady talked about a typical day in his life. Looking at his habits, we can learn something about managing priorities.

Brady gets up at 5:30 a.m. every day. He stays disciplined and goes to bed by 8:30 p.m. When he talked about this, he said that you cannot go to bed at 1 a.m. and expect to get things done the next day. Brady went on to say, “Because my career is so important, I think I make a lot of – I wouldn’t call them sacrifices, but just concessions for my job. I love what I do and I want to do it for a long time.” Brady has two priorities: his team and his family. He said he doesn’t have time for anything else.

Brady knows that if you want to dedicate your life to something, then other things will have to be sacrificed.

You can’t spend all your time training, have a lot of friends, and then put your loved ones last. This is wise because if you want to be in a successful relationship, you need to work on that too. It can’t only be sports. You cannot have everything. Tom Brady prioritizes training and family. He said, “Sometimes, it’s hard to cut things out, for me where I cut is like my friends, they probably don’t get as much time as they used to.”

Brady also knows the value of leadership, commenting, “When you’re one of the leaders of the team, there are no days off.” In a struggling relationship, there needs to be a leader – someone who can see anxiety as a catalyst for growth. This is sometimes a hard skill to improve. It means being uncomfortable. Like a quarterback, a relationship leader looks at what’s down the road and can stay calm in the pocket. Similar to Tom Brady taking a team that was on a losing streak to the Super Bowl, a dedicated spouse needs to examine what is happening in the relationship and use these opportunities to grow instead of collapsing and merging or demanding change.

A strong leader can express their individual desires, understand the team’s position, and make informed decisions about what play happens.

For couples, this means really knowing each partner’s position, talking about consequences (for both), and making decisions based on what’s best for the team.

I should mention sacrifices. Most people know about Tom Brady’s crazy restrictive diet. In case you don’t know, he doesn’t eat sugar, white flour, olive oil, salt, nightshade vegetables (think tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms), along with no caffeine or dairy products. Brady makes this choice because of his priority to the game. I mention this to go along with making a decision based on what is best for the relationship. It’s not healthy to demand your partner change to make you more comfortable. Nor is it healthy to ignore your own desires. Sometimes working through things takes a hard stomach – just like how eating lots of veggies and meat (if you’re not vegan) is good for you.

One last secret Tom Brady revealed in his interview was his night time routine. He reads to his kids before bed. “[The kids] always get a book before bed, sometimes two if they’re nice to me,” Brady told People.com. This secret is a good one copied straight away. Expanded on a bit, it shows the importance of cultivating relationships. If you don’t spend time with your kids, you are probably not the most attentive parent. If you don’t spend time watering your relationship, you probably are not being a good spouse.

If you can learn anything from Tom Brady, it’s that success doesn’t come without work. He didn’t lead his team to victory by skimping on the work. He also shows that success is possible in two different fields. I work with a lot of athletes in relationships. One of their key frustrations is that they feel misunderstood by their partner and they feel guilty pursuing their training. It takes hard work to turn a failing relationship around, but we know that athletes can be happy in life and sports if they are willing to put the work into it. It means swallowing some tough pills and learning to talk about priorities and time. You cannot avoid the hard work of communication in a relationship.

If you are an athlete feeling guilty about your training and struggling with your relationship, learn how to communicate in your relationship with this free mental toughness guide.

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