Felice Goff, family therapist.
Bio: Felice Goff, LCSW, is an experienced Clinical Socia
Despite stubborn stereotypes of motorcyclists being brooding misfits prone to self-destruction, and blithering Hollywood portrayals of violent biker outlaw life, most of us really just want to have a good time, manfully and/or womanly bond with our buds, and reconnect with our significant others.
When everything seems hard, the economy keeps sputtering, factories are folding, money is low and stress is high, these are the times that try bikers' souls, and their relationships. If you've been doing this for a while, you know how restorative a simple scoot can be. Motorcycling is therapeutic, providing benefits that can extend well beyond our own helmeted heads. But why?
There are the obvious reasons-the sense of adventure and danger, the passion and poetry of being on the road, of indulging in a healthy bit of rebel alter ego, and perhaps belonging in some way to a fringe part of society with its own codes of conduct, ritual, and dress.
Raymond and Kim credit Kim's love of choppers for keeping their long-distance relationship
This may sound cornball, but I don't care: I believe there is something transcendent about motorcycling, a kind of bracing spirituality where our heightened senses and elevated awareness makes us feel more connected to our surroundings, and perhaps to ourselves and our riding mates. Add a long shot of adrenaline and the experience transforms into something exciting, sexy, and a catalyst for profluent bonding. Sometimes, I think, just sharing risk can bring couples closer.
This shared experience can be particularly helpful to couples. Challenging the elements together, building trust, doing something that transcends your troubles cannot only be healing, but create an unprecedented closeness. But don't take my word for it; I'm just a lunatic on a motorcycle, let's ask family psychotherapist, Felice Goff.
HBB: Can motorcycling help struggling relationships, and if so, how?
Nate's solo-ride rat chopper can't carry his wife, but without her, he said, the road woul
Roxy & Chad: "Motorcycling as a couple helps us share another healthy, fun, cheap, legal a
"If a woman doesn't have the courage, passion, and sense of adventure to at least try moto
GOFF: One of the essential tasks of creating a healthy marriage is building togetherness and autonomy. This means putting together a shared vision of how the couple wants to spend their lives together, constructing the psychological identity of the marriage as an entity in itself. There needs to be a sense of "we-ness" and also room for autonomy of the "I." Struggling couples often are missing the intimacy of the "we." Motorcycling is one shared vision that can help the couple strengthen the marital identity.
Motorcycling can help the couple identity by providing a sense of belonging. Belonging is necessary for self-esteem and the partnership will fare better with high self-esteem. Motorcyclists have their own subculture, including language, history, traditions, social behavior, and skills. While in our society there are many social groups for singles, there are few for couples. Once you regularly ride a motorcycle you are immediately part of a subgroup. If you join a motorcycle club you have an immediate sense of belonging. It is easier to make new friends and the couple as well as the individual has a way to interact socially.
Terry and Anna met at the Love Ride two years ago. "We both shared a passion for biking, a
This couple has been married for more than 20 years. "We were riding when we met, and we h
Motorcycling provides a common focus of interest. It is something the couple can talk about, plan about, and do together that is pleasurable, reasonable in cost, and readily available. It takes the couple away from daily stressors, work and chores.
Tom and Linda's 12-year marriage was struggling, until they rediscovered the road, and eac
The family that rides together makes more biker babies together. This beaming couple showe
Motorcycling requires trust, communication, cooperation and negotiation whether the couple rides together or separately. Clear communication becomes imperative for safety reasons so the couple has to work to develop good skills in this area. Hopefully these skills will transfer for the couple in other settings. While riding together and physically touching might be more sensual, riding separately might support the sometimes-needed separateness. It would be an individual choice.
This woman said she loves biking with her man because, "You know what they say about Milwa
Janelle and Gia said motorcycling is "...our special thing, and we like getting away from
HBB: How can a couple use this sport to improve their relationship? What pitfalls should they try to avoid? Is it simply about a shared activity or experience or adventure that helps couples connect, or is something else going on?
GOFF: Motorcycling together is what therapists term "quality time." This means an activity that requires interaction as opposed to something passive.
Bob has been riding since he was 16, about 100 years ago. "I thought the zing had left, I
The pitfalls couples need to be aware of are trying to be together constantly. Interacting with other people is healthy and keeps new information flowing and makes the relationship more interesting.
It is not simply a shared activity or adventure that help people connect. It is the unit planning a goal to successful completion that matters. When skills, knowledge, and abilities complement each other and come together each person realizes that they are better and stronger together than either separately. One can then appreciate their own value, the value of the other and the value of the marriage.
HBB: Are there "do's and don'ts" for couples who ride together? How should a rider prepare a novice, significant other passenger?
GOFF: Just as in life, each has to respect the ability of the other. If one is more knowledgeable or capable in a certain area the couple needs to utilize the strength of the capable one. Neither needs to dominate. Negotiate for the good of the "marriage/relationship/ride." Neither needs to "win." While the experienced rider might teach the novice, it might be best to get lessons from an outsider or professional. This way both become capable and the relationship doesn't get in the way of learning.
HBB: Is there a unique sexuality to riding, and if so, what is it and how can couples tap into it?
GOFF: What could be more exciting and sensual than the freedom of the road, an outdoor environment, or travel to unexplored places? Roles are more fluid while traveling than at home and the couple can be who they want to be.
HBB: How can couples heal and grow using biking? Can motorcycling actually boost compatibility and relieve relationship stresses?
GOFF: Relationship stresses usually arise from day-to-day living requirements. Getting away usually helps. Time spent away from these requirements, on the road, give people a chance to concentrate on enjoying each other. Both have to focus on caring for the motorcycle, themselves, and each other. They may learn new skills, positive behaviors and improved communication. Relief from the usual responsibilities allows the couple to renew, relax and build a reserve that will serve them when they return to daily life. It provides a new and stronger marital identity and an opportunity for learning to balance "I" and "We."