Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Being a TEAM In Your Marriage

The other night in the National League playoffs the left fielder dropped a line drive that ultimately cost them the game. While I'm sure his fellow players were disappointed and perhaps one or two of them saw him as the goat, most of them encouraged him as he came off the field. I think they realized a couple of things: first, they could have had the same thing happen to them; and second, they are all a team. They win together and they lose together.

I've counseled with lots of married couples over the years. And there's one thing (among several) that I notice seems to be common among those who are seriously struggling. They've lost the sense that they are still on the same team. Instead of seeking the other's success, of working together to overcome their challenges and celebrating both their victories and agonizing over their losses, they have become enemies of sorts.

Discussions or arguments become wars over who's the smartest, who made the best decision or who is going to get their way. There's little encouragement when someone does something well and every mistake is highlighted to make the other person look bad. Even their children start hearing things like, "We can't bother daddy because he doesn't handle pressure very well," or "Let's not do anything to upset mommy - you know how she is."

Marriage is a lot of things: the joining of two spirits and souls, a commitment before God to love and respect one another and the joining into one flesh. But marriage also implies that we are teammates. Teammates accept that each brings different talents to the organization, encourage one another to develop their skills and applaud the successes of the other. Teammates watch each other's backs and pick each other up when they fall.

In fact let me use TEAM as an acrostic for four things teammates in marriage need to do or embrace in their thinking. T stands for together. Teammates in a marriage think together about everything. Everything you own, succeed in and decide to do must be a together decision. That doesn't mean you can't have individual activities and passions or have time to yourself or with others. But in the big picture your relationship is a together thing before it's an individual one.

For example, we've never had Gary's money and Jackie's money. All that we have, no matter who makes it, is ours, not his or hers. When we've made a move it was first a together decision, not the rest of the family simply following dad or mom. When we were thinking about how to discipline our children, we accepted that we must work together and be on the same page in how to do it.

The E stands for expect the best. So often marriages have had trust broken and yes that trust may need to be re-gained when there's been a major breach in it. However, some marriages simply devolve to the point where one or both partners now assume the worst about any action the other takes.

Last year my wife accidentally locked me out on the balcony of our condo for four hours in the rising heat of a Texas morning. It was tempting to be furious at her (and I admit I had some challenging moments while waiting to get back in when she returned) but I have learned to know and expect better. I knew that she would be devastated, not gleeful, and I was right. We can laugh about it now and she even let me use it later as a message illustration. But it would have been a mistake to add that to some sort of list to hold against her.

A stands for admit your own mistakes. True teammates know that others will goof up somewhere along the line. But when that happens they do what they can to pick each other up not beat each other down. Now granted there are many times when in marriage we need to work through differences of opinions, hurt feelings and actions that need to be changed. But we have to do all that with humility, not arrogance. We must remember that we, too, are capable of locking the other on the porch or whatever.

And the M stands for make the most of every moment. It's easy to spend a lot of our time and energy wishing things were different than they are only to miss out on the joys and blessings that are available to us right now. Teammates find every opportunity they can to celebrate what's currently happening while looking forward to the possibilities that are ahead. Can you imagine if professional baseball players never had fun or celebrated each other's accomplishments until the playoffs?

If your marriage has hit some rough spots or if you'd like to give it a boost, ask yourself what you're doing to help be a teammate instead of an opponent to your spouse. Take some time to talk together about what being a team might be like for the two of you. If you do, you'll have a better chance of being a winner in the challenge of being married and you'll stay that way for a long time!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome read an great reminders about how to be a team!! getting married for the 2nd time and it feels right. This is something we both gotta remind ourselves to do!