Jeff and Aly Pain Bring Message to Military
A published author, decorated skeleton athlete Jeff Pain penned “The Business of Marriage and Medals” with his wife, Aly. Amid book signings in Calgary and Edmonton last April, they realized it attracted the attention of people they didn’t see coming. The Canadian military.
The book chronicles the ups and downs of their 13-year marriage while Pain pursued medals in his long skeleton career. It takes an honest look at on how a marriage survives under such circumstances, weaving together the mistakes made and lessons learned by the Calgary couple who have two children.
The Pains learned, from their military visitors during the book signings, that the way they lived for 15 years was similar to a military lifestyle. “We go away for long periods of time,” Jeff Pain said. “We represent our country. We live in a lower economic reality. There were so many similarities; those are just the big three.”
Tonight, Jeff and Aly take this idea to a new level. “It’s much easier to learn from other people’s mistakes than your own,” he said. The Pains will speak to military families at the Calgary Military Museum about their struggles and successes in building a family when one person is gone for long periods of time.
“We want to start the conversations that everyone is having but no one is talking about,” said Pain.
Their message, to move relationships forward, to survive in the face of relationship adversity, is well-tailored to military families. The three-time Olympian hopes to spread the message across Canada and wants to reach Canadian Forces bases everywhere. He is sending 500 copies of the book to troops in Afghanistan.
Families with Olympians
A silver medallist in 2006, Pain had high hopes in 2010 on home soil. But torn abdominal muscles made the experience difficult and Pain could do no better than ninth. Facing retirement after that, Pain said he felt depression and bitterness kick in.
“But the thing that anchored me and got me out of bed every day was my kids,” he said. “That is what kept me going. Family is so important.”
He and Aly have learned how much their story related to Canadians from all walks of life. “The only thing that is unique about our situation is that I’m an Olympic athlete. The strain and stresses in our marriage are no different than others.”
Pain said he is grateful that his Olympic pedigree helps garner attention to their book and message. He said family was critical to his great successes in skeleton – but the road not always easy. “Making agreements that make it more okay for that person to go away is vital,” Pain said. “I didn’t do a good job of that early in my career.”
One defining moment for him came, in fact, just last year. Last fall, Pain flew to Florida for a special lunch with golf great Jack Nicklaus, a dream for him. “It was an incredible conversation about life, performance, family, experiences,” Pain said. Pain shared a deep concern he had with Nicklaus – that time spent away from his family would have a lasting effect on his children. Nicklaus told him as long as the kids know he will always be there for them, and even more so when sport is over, they will be fine.
“It was a nice relief to hear from someone who’d had so much success in sport and family. To hear that was life-changing.”
Now, Pain’s life is really changing as he transitions out of sport. He intends to turn his focus to helping athletes deal with financial limitations. Money was a big factor in his struggles, so Pain wants to help solicit greater corporate investment in Canada’s hard-working athletes. While developing this, he said he is just taking life day by day.
Today finds him hoping to strike a chord with the Canadian military.
The book can be found online at www.marriageandmedals.com.