“Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less me and more we.” Unknown author
Teamwork or being a team is an important foundation in a relationship which is often not talked about and very often missing. A team has many facets to it and I would like to cover some of them here in this blog. I say it’s foundational because the successful long term relationships I have known over the years and any successful relationship I have been exposed to, have always had this element of teamwork present.
To create your own relationship team which will strengthen your bond with your partner it is important to understand a few key things. These are keys that can be learned and implemented into a relationship if both people are willing.
“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” Patrick Lencioni
Often when we think of a team we think of a sports team or a work team and many of the same qualities that make up a good work or sports team also apply to the relationship team. For me this is one of the most important aspects of a relationship and one which will often determine if a couples stays together or not.
Just as it is important to respect our individuality in a relationship, it is also really important to know we have committed to being part of a team that requires teamwork. Like any other team, we may need to figure out the best way to work together in the relationship. It is natural to want to be part of something greater than ourselves and when two people in love make that commitment to be together they are also committing to make something much larger than a “me” or “I”, they become an “us” and a “we”.
“The ratio of We’s to I’s is the best indicator of the development of a team.” Lewis B. Ergen
There are many aspects and elements that go into the make-up of a good team. Some of them are things like communication, respectfulness, kindness, cooperation, encouragement and compromise to name a few. It is also important to be unified, to have a united front with your children, making team decisions, having common values and being supportive of each other.
“The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.” Henry Boye
When two people are in a relationship together, there will be disagreements that is normal. Collaboration on decisions, both large and small, a willingness to discuss and listen to both people`s opinions and ideas and a willingness to compromise for the good of the relationship, not just for the good of yourself is what teamwork is all about.
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Andrew Carnegie
Relationships, even the very best of them, can at times be complicated and challenging. Couples who are a team know how to get through the rough patches and still have a fulfilling relationship, often because they know how to compromise and have respectfully communicate. Each partner is given the benefit of the doubt. An “I need to be right” attitude is competitive not cooperative and the death knell to compromise. If one partner is always giving in to the other it can build resentment over time. Compromise allows both people to be able to get some things that they want, while sacrificing what they want for the person they love at other times.
Practice give and take, and learn how to meet each other half way. The attitude is one of flexibility, patience, supportiveness and a decision based on what is best for the team.
“Teamwork is working together — even when apart.” Unknown author
Building a team also requires shared responsibilities. It is good to acknowledge and use each other’s strengths to get the everyday things accomplished. We don’t often like to hear this but sometimes other people can do things better than we can. There is nothing wrong with letting your partner wash the dishes if you are the better cook or taking turns depending on who wants to cook. The same thing; with cleaning the bathroom or doing the laundry or paying the bills or keeping track of Birthdays or whatever else needs to get done. There is also the other alternative of doing some of the chores together (i.e., food shopping or laundry). Expressing appreciation for the hard work your partner did to handle the bills or cook a fabulous dinner can also create an environment of acknowledgement which can go a long way in creating a successful team and foundation for your relationship. Offering assistance when you can and be willing to accept assistance when it is offered to you is also important.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Henry Ford
It is critically important to make time to spend together, not to just do chores but to enjoy each other’s company, have fun, be intimate and nurture the relationship. It is equally important to spend some time apart to allow each of you to recharge and do your own thing. Being a team does not mean you have to live in each other`s pocket. Create some quiet time for yourself, read a book or take a walk or go out with friends. Do whatever it is that you love to do when you need to recharge yourself. Sometimes you can be alone while you are both in the same house. My husband sometimes reads newspapers online while I read a book. We both do what helps us recharge and we can be together yet apart in the same space.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anäis Nin
As a team being authentic and having the courage to show up and be real the courage to contribute, the courage to share, the courage to communicate even when it is difficult to do so is the glue that hold the team together. What are you willing to bring to the relationship team? Intimate relationships involve risk and vulnerability, and often couples begin to hide emotionally from each other when the relationship hits obstacles. Being “REAL”, emotionally open, honest and vulnerable with your partner is absolutely essential. If you feel comfortable enough to let down all of your defenses, allowing the deep core of you to be seen and responded to by your partner and your partner does the same, then you have an emotional relationship par excellence.
Unfortunately, many couples don’t do that. They play games with each other and wear masks. Playing games and using ineffective strategies to try to get your needs met does not work. It just causes arguments and misunderstandings. There is no teamwork when this happens it is more like a war of opposing sides. By both being authentic and vulnerable with each other you strengthen your team, build trust and become so much more than you can be alone. It`s worth the courage it takes.
If you have ever played on a sports team who worked well together it is a wonderful feeling to know that your teammates have your back. Do you have your partners back, does he have yours? In a relationship team, each of you must know and trust that the other has your back. This supports security, confidence, acceptance and strength in the relationship.
Creating common goals and objectives together and working together as a team towards achieving those goals or objectives strengthens the bonds. A couple operating as a team will direct individual accomplishments toward the objectives that nurture and allow the relationship to flourish. As a team the couple understands and believes that thinking, planning, making decisions and taking actions are better when they are done cooperatively.
“Synergy — the bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously.” Mark Twain
As a team problems that may seem insurmountable appear smaller because you have someone to solve them with, share them with, be accountable to. We share the credit, the responsibility, the success and the pitfalls. Because we share the load and the joys of life, a synergy develops over time which flows and supports trust and harmony.
What is your Positivity Ratio?
John Gottman’s research into the positivity ratio found that he could predict with over 90% accuracy if a couple would stay together or divorce. What does this mean for you? The key factor is the ratio of positive expressions verses negative expressions regularly between a couple, a relationship which has a five or more positive expressions to one negative expression will be more likely to succeed.
Being a team includes compassion for self and your partner. Compassion is the ability to listen deeply and show sympathy and understanding to your partner. To be kind instead of needing to be right. Couples who practice compassion and kindness continuously feed love and send each other vital messages of caring.
You might think that it’s easy for couples to shower each other with compassion, but this isn’t always the case. Often couples begin to take one another for granted and stop behaving in ways that demonstrate unsolicited kindness or compassion. Some have the assumption that you need heaps of time or that you need to be in the “right place” in your life in order to show compassion to others is not only incorrect, it’s a dangerous assumption. Make compassion a necessity for your relationship team. Weave it into the small acts of your daily life and you won’t even need to create extra time for it. It will just be the way you treat each other. How much more time does it take to say “can you please…” in front of whatever you are asking for or to say thank you, to acknowledge something someone has done, give a compliment, or praise them for something.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain
- Are you in a relationship team?
- How could your relationship team be improved?
- What could you do to be more of a team player?
- What do you need to bring to the relationship table?
- What are you bringing to the team?
- What’s one step you can take to improve your ability to compromise?
- How can you weave small acts of compassion into your daily life?