Team work is often forgotten or a misunderstood concept in marriage
An important aspect of a primary relationship which is often not talked about is being a team. A team has many facets to it and I would like to cover at least a few here in this blog. I believe it is fundamental because the successful long term relationships I have known over the years have always had this element to them. So it is important to understand the dynamics of a relationship team in order to strengthen your bond with your partner. This is something that can be learned and implemented into a relationship if both people are willing.
“No problem is insurmountable. With a little courage, teamwork and determination a person can overcome anything“ B. Dodge
When we think of a team we often 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. Just as it is important to respect our individuality when we come together as a couple it is also really important to know we have just committed to being part of a team. Like any other team we may need to figure out the best way to work together as a team. It is human nature that we all want to be part of something greater than ourselves and when two people come together in love the two of souls make something much larger than just to people they become an “us“ and a “we“.
“The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.” Henry Boye
Elements of a good team are things like communication, respect, helpfulness and compromise. It is also important to be united, to have a united front with your children, your decisions, your values and your world. Collaboration on decisions, both large and small, a willingness to discuss both people`s opinions and ideas.
When two people are in a relationship together, there will be disagreements. As a team player you must be willing to compromise for the good of the relationship, not just for the good of yourself. One partner always giving in to the other can build resentment over time. Compromise will allow both people to be able to get some things that they want, while sacrificing what they want for the other at times. Relationships, even the very best of them, are complicated and often challenging. Couples who are a team know how to get through the rough patches and still have fulfilling unions, they know how to compromise. Each partner is given the benefit of the doubt. A competitive, “I need to be right” attitude is the death knell to compromise. Practice give and take, and learn how to meet each other half way.
Share responsibilities and 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). Express appreciation for the hard work your partner did to handle the bills or cook a fabulous dinner. This will go a long way in creating a successful team and foundation for your relationship. Offer assistance when you can and be willing to accept assistance when it is offered to you.
Create some quiet time for yourself and your partner to be alone separately and to also be alone together. It is 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. 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.
“Teamwork is working together — even when apart.“ Unknown author
Being a team player means you must also have courage, to show up and be real and the courage to contribute something to the relationship. 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. This was evident with a couple I counselled: The husband was somewhat subdued with his wife but was “the life of the party” with his friends and other couples. He stopped bringing his sense of humour and capacity for joy into his relationship with his wife after only five years of marriage. Being emotionally open, honest and vulnerable “REAL” 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 real 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.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anäis Nin
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. It is the same in a relationship team each of you must know that the other has your back. This supports confidence, acceptance and strength in the relationship. Fostering a team spirit in a relationship is the ability to work together toward a common vision. Creating common goals and objectives together and working together towards achieving those goals or objectives. 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. When you are working as a team problems that may seem insurmountable appear smaller because you have someone to solve them with. As a relationship team we are accountable to our team. We know that we both take responsibility for the successes and the failures, for the obstacles and the solutions. We share the load and the joys of life. A synergy develops over time which flows and supports trust and harmony.
“Synergy — the bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously.“ Mark Twain
Being a team includes compassion. Compassion is the ability to listen deeply and show sympathy and understanding to your partner. Couples who practice compassion and kindness continuously feed love and send each other vital messages of caring. You would think that it’s easy for couples to shower each other with compassion, but this isn’t always the case. So often couples begin to take one another for granted and stop behaving in ways that demonstrate unsolicited kindness. As one husband recently said, “With all the stress I’m under, I don’t have the luxury of always being compassionate“ 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 in your relationship team, not a luxury. Weave it into the small acts of your daily life and you won’t even need to create extra time for it.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain
Questions you can ask yourself for more insight:
- 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?