“That sounds like a good idea,” he said with a smirk on his face, “how about you write it?” insinuating I should be a team player and help him out. So my first piece of advice in working as a team in your marriage – keep your mouth shut!
Seriously though, I have often thought that one of the things Brandon and I seem to do well in our marriage is this team concept. I thought I would share a bit on how I find this working in our marriage and lay out a few general tips.
First, see each other as valuable members of the team with important roles to play. It is easy to view the things you do to support your family as having a higher importance. It is easy to see the sacrifices you make and to down play your spouses. It is easy to compare the amount of money you make, the time you spend, and the things you give up and judge your portion as the better half. The truth is both of you are important and you have to consciously decide to think this way. It simply doesn’t matter who does what and when and how much…everything is needed to make the marriage and your family survive. The saying often quoted, “a team is only as strong as its weakest player” is true, and one of the ways you can become the weakest player is by continually criticizing your spouse’s rolls and denigrating all the good things they do.
Second, instead of judging the roles that your spouse plays find a way to live in their shoes to understand their perspective. If you think doing all the lawn work and house maintenance requires more energy and time than the things your spouse does…try and switch roles for a while if possible. Do the dishes, laundry, and cleaning and see if you still feel the same afterwards. Brandon and I have had the very fortunate experience of both being able to at some point be the “stay-at-home” parent and the “working” parent. We can sympathize with the woes of each other after a hard day at “work” regardless of where that occurs. Although you might not be able to switch all your roles there are some that you could try and play around with.
Third, give each other grace! If members of a team only ridiculed each other and never forgave each other the team would crumble and everyone would want to quit. Remember how forgiving you were before you were married when you were in the infatuation stage? You easily glossed over minor infractions and overlooked small things. CHOOSE to do this again. I think you have to make it a choice because you might have trained yourself into habitually responding with negative emotions. You have to overcome this by a choice to think and respond differently regardless of how you feel in order to turn this tide of behaviorism. A good friend of mine once said, “Choose not to be annoyed,” and I will never forget that statement. We do have control over our emotions and the way we respond to each other…you might just need some retraining to make this come more naturally.
And fourth – building off of the previous tip – encourage each other. You will value your team/marriage/family when you mutually build one and other up in tangible ways. Tell each other specifically the things you appreciate (even if you are struggling at the time to feel overly thankful). If you KNOW it’s valuable then say it, out loud, and sooner or later you will feel thankful in a more genuine way. One of the best ways to encourage your spouse is to participate in the things that they value. Watch a baseball game, wax the car, trim the trees with your husband. Plant flowers, go for a run, and clip coupons with your wife. By participating in the things they value most, either just for enjoyment or for the direct benefit of your family, will encourage and edify your spouse.
And if you find yourself writing a blog or recording a podcast for your spouse on the benefits of working as a team in marriage you might just learn a lesson or two from yourself. :^)