Since the beginning of my husband and I’s relationship, we’ve had this unintentional motto that has stuck with us over the past eighteen years, “Together is Better!” Honestly at first we found it silly, but we kept saying it after we’d complete some task together, like it was our victory chant. Before we knew it, our silly little saying started to sound profound as it proved itself over and over true. When we’re given a task or presented with a decision, we instinctively look to each other. Still we have those bad days on the “marriage field” where we’d like to call each other out on performance-because every team has those days. Nevertheless, we have put considerable effort into working as a team over the years and still do; whether it’s in ministry serving, at home cleaning, completing projects, discussing our budget or even being in agreement on how we should discipline our toddlers. This doesn’t mean we have lost our individuality or identity in each other. On the contrary, because we are different people it has greatly enhanced our success as a married couple. We realize we are bringing more to the playing field of our marriage life than if we were replicates of each other’s skills and talents. When you’re a teammate to your spouse you…
- Lighten each other’s loads
- Accomplish Tasks More Efficiently
- Develop a Stronger Friendship
- Heighten Your Intimacy
- Learn to Communicate More Effectively
There are far more benefits to being a teammate to your spouse, than being their coach or fan. Even the most enthusiastic fans cannot help you make the winning score. You may hear them encourage you or question your moves in the game from the stands; but they’ll never be alongside you at the practices. You will not find them sweating bullets with you as you make the necessary sacrifices for improvement or prepare for the next win. A teammate doesn’t come around just at the winner’s circle, but they labor with you from the start for the win.
Although coaches are vital, our spouse’s role is not to be our coach (at least not ALL the time). A coach provides direction and instruction, much like a mentor or spiritual leader. The Bible tells us in Eph 5:21, to submit to each other. The scripture is describing our spouse as a teammate not a coach. Again our spouses shouldn’t be on the sidelines but they should be in the trenches with us, completing every play as our teammate.
I created a list of 10 things we can do as married couples to help build the teamwork in our marriages:
- Remember You’re on the Same Side. Don’t Compete! Maybe I’m the only one guilty of this, but why did I feel the need to defend my side, when I said my vows to join his? When he fails, I fail. When he wins, I win. Mark 10:8 says, “and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one.” There are no two sides in marriage. There’s just one! One team made up with two star players: my spouse and I.
I remember one time I had to literally tell myself, “Angelita, you don’t need to prove anything!” I was finding myself constantly, secretly competing with my husband. It’s nothing but a deceitful idea that we need to out perform our spouse; whether it’s in salary, skill, talent, degrees in education, job positions, athleticism or any other area we try to compare ourselves. We’re a team and we’re only going to win, if we learn to work together as a team.
2. Make it a Habit to Encourage Each Other. We can all benefit from a pat on the back from our teammate every once and awhile. When we appreciate, acknowledge and support our spouse it uplifts them and it motivates them to press on. I like how The Message Bible translates 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, “Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.” If we can make a habit of encouraging our spouse, we will be bringing out the best of them and ultimately make our marriages a better team!
One of the best ways to encourage your teammate is to Celebrate Your Victories. Doesn’t it feel like its human nature to spend more time sulking in our losses than celebrating our victories? We need to learn to take time out of our marriages to acknowledge and celebrate our victories just as much as we go over the challenges! The other day my husband brought up how he was so proud of how we communicated a very sensitive issue without getting “too heated.” We literally discussed it in separate time frames throughout the day. Every time the conversation grew a bit weary, we took a break and came back to it once we were ready to talk again. This was a victory for us. It showed growth and maturity in our relationship, specifically in communication. Go ahead and commemorate, praise or memorialize your team’s victories. It will encourage you and your spouse.
3. Trust Your Teammate (Spouse). I know we often may not understand the actions of our spouse but we need to trust their motive. 1 Corinth 13:7 says, “Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” We need to believe in, and trust our spouse. We must believe they’re committed to the marriage succeeding just as much as we are. We need to trust they’re doing the best they can. Whatever their shortcoming is take it to prayer. We cannot change our spouse but with prayer we can let God intervene. Never underestimate prayer! It changes things.
I can understand some of my readers can find it difficult to trust their spouse if their spouse has been untrustworthy. First off go to God about the broken trust. Forgive your spouse and then have a candid, but gentle conversation with him/her. Discuss ways together on how you can rebuild the trust in your marriage. It will take time but with hard work, your marriage will be stronger than ever!
4. Give 100/100! The idea that marriages are all about 50/50 is a set up for marital failure! It’s not even about compromise! As a teammate, you know you’re always giving 100% of yourself 100% of the time because you have the goal in mind. You want to win! Athletes don’t compare their efforts to their teammates. They own their actions on the field. In fact, they don’t even complain about the individual sacrifices they make for the victory of the team! Athletes are committed! We need to be just as committed to our marriage! If we forget were on the same team as our spouse, we will start a tally system. We start tallying how many times we’re forgiven, how many times we’ve sacrificed, how many times we had to compromise and we grow bitter toward our spouse. Don’t start tallying! Give (sow) 100% and you’ll get (reap) 100%-Gal 6:7 say, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
5. Identify Each Other’s Weaknesses and Strengths and Use Them. I’ll admit this was quite the hurdle for my husband and I early on in our marriage. We both seemed strong-willed. After a few bumps and bruises from the hard lessons in life, we’ve learned to depend on each other’s strengths and make-up for each other’s weaknesses. When it comes to grocery shopping or cooking meals, I’m the chef! When it comes to taking account for every dollar spent and how to budget, Juan is our MVP! If we’re discussing time management, I’m on the job. We’ve learned not to be intimidated by each other’s strengths but use them. We still consult each other before making major decisions, because when we didn’t there were unfortunate consequences. It always helps bouncing ideas off our spouse and double checking our actions. Two heads are better than one!
6. Value Each Other-Respect. If we would analyze the successes of teams, we’d see their wins are because of the cooperation and mutual respect of its team members. Rather than competing with one another, successful teams appreciate the individual efforts of their teammates. It’s the sum of individual successes (the lay-up, the assist, the pass etc,) that attributes to the wins for the team. So we need to learn rely, confide, respect and value our spouse’s contributions. We wouldn’t have much of a marriage if it was solely based upon one person’s efforts. Marriage requires a team of two striving toward the same goal and valuing each other’s contributions whether big or small. Appreciate your spouse and their efforts. You need each other!
7.Communicate Effectively. Have you ever bumped heads with someone in the game because you were both going for the ball? I can’t say how many times I’ve seen it in ALL types of sports games (typically amongst the young athletes). We all know communication is key and when there’s isn’t clear communication, casualties can take place. I often tell my husband I have no problem following him where he leads, but its far more helpful when he communicates to me where we are going. We save time, effort and even money when we learn to talk to our spouse. When we communicate, we take the guess-work out of the game and we don’t have to assume anything about our teammate. Truly this requires daily effort and it is one of the most challenging hurdles of any team, especially marriage! We have to carefully listen to our spouse, relay what we’ve heard and understood in order to be most successful as a team.
8. Grow From Failures & Remember Grace. We all have made and will make mistakes. Sometimes we need to extend some grace because next time we may be the one that needs it. My husband and I have definitely learned from our bad decisions and investments that have cost us time and money. However, it never did us any good pointing fingers, bad-mouthing each other or being resentful over the loss. Take the opportunity to develop into a better team. Don’t tear each other up over the failures or sulk in your loses, go over the tapes! Experience can be a great teacher. Study what attributed to the loss and avoid repeating it.
9. Be In Agreement. Amos 3:3 plainly tells us in order for two to walk together, they must agree. Agreement is an intentional decision made by both teammates and it brings unity and harmony. In fact God blesses agreement (Psalm 133). Sometimes we have to agree to disagree but remain respectful and value each other’s opinions. Once we hear our spouse’s ideas and seek to understand their input, we’ll find they’re more willing to agree.
10. Accept Criticism. A good teammate is always looking for ways to improve the team. So, if our spouse comes with some advice or criticism let’s accept it with gratitude. They’re trying to help us not hurt us. The delivery may not always be the way we’d like but if we can trust their motive-to make the team better-it helps us receive the criticism.
Today you and your spouse are on the starting line-up. With God’s help, you can improve your marriage one play at a time. Work on these tips one at a time. You’re marriage is worth it! Make your marriage a winning team!
Now it’s your turn! What other tips can you offer other marriages on how they can become a better team? Comment with your tips below.
Eccl 4:9-12 “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”