Working as a Team in Marriage

Working as a Team in Marriage

It is highly unlikely that any of us reading this journal will find the concept of team working strange. We all are familiar with the concept either in the board room, in relation to working with colleagues or subordinates, at school or even  as part of a sports team. However, despite the fact that some of us pride ourselves to be great team players at work or in sports, the reality is that we struggle to apply this same principle to our marriages or relationships. It’s almost as if we expect a different rule to apply when we are at home and when we are outside of the home. Working as a team is essential to marital success and we will never become too experienced at practicing this important relationship skill. A team consists of people working together, yoked together, cooperating, coordinating, and collaborating for the common good.

It’s so easy for even the best couples to get out of sync and work against each other. That is why it is important to continually communicate and share goals and strategies for achieving these goals. It is also important to understand the need to work consistently together as a team as marriage is described as a three-legged race. If you try to push ahead without your partner’s cooperation, you will both fall but if you try to work together, chances are that you will both do well. Don’t be deceived to think that I am sporty or interested in sports in any way because I am not. However I do know this fact that most sports i.e. football require that the individual players give up their personal agendas and egos for the benefit of the team. You cannot go into these team sports wanting to succeed and decide to work in silo and not embrace the power and dynamics of working as a team. In the same way, marriage is no different especially if we are to succeed and realise the many benefits that the relationship has to offer.

In most cases, it is a normal thing to follow the model of our parents in marriage and sometimes we do so at a subconscious level. I will say that those who have been privileged to have team working demonstrated by their parents are really blessed and they have a good model to adopt and begin from but some couples are not this fortunate. Nevertheless, we can all begin from where we are and start to grow from there. Not only are couples meant to become intimate, but we are also meant to communicate, coordinate our efforts and help each other out. We are not meant to work against each other but to play to each other’s strengths. We must always remember that we belong to the same team and that we are one and not enemies. A couple who has learned how to work together do not compete with each other and they do not reinforce each other’s weaknesses. Instead they reinforce each other’s strengths. Our job in the marriage is not to shape ourselves or spouses into some ideal we ought to be or that we want them to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.

We will be kidding ourselves to think that married life was ever intended to be hunky-dory but if we learn to place the needs of our partners at the same level of importance as our own, we can work our way to achieving a happy married life. According to a marriage counsellor by the name Stephen Martin, ‘a happy marriage balances the needs of the individuals without sacrificing the harmony of the couple. The bible puts it this way that two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor, for if they fall, one will lift up his companion. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. Ecclesiastes 4 vs. 9-12 (NKJV) revised. This verse isn’t necessarily referring to just two people who are physically present together but passive or uncooperative, but two people who have a sense of shared purpose and goal.

I remember a time when my husband and I would argue over something as simple as planning to get the children to school on time. We did not synchronize our activities or allowed each other to operate within the areas where we are most suited. But we are now learning. We allow him as an early morning person ‘on most days’ to handle the morning tasks including helping the children go through their morning routines in a timely manner and allow me (the late night lady) to handle the tidying up etc and preparing for the next day the night before. This is only a simple example as there are other examples that best exemplify team working in marriage.

Basically, what you put in is what you get. ‘For life is a just employer, he gives you what you ask, but once you have set the wages, you must bear the task (Napoleon)’. To work successfully as a team in marriage, we must be heading in the same direction as our spouse. We must be able to clarify where we want to go on an individual level and as a couple, must be able to coordinate our activities including assisting each other at home and in other areas, and we must be committed to each other and to the goals we have set. Communication and consideration are also two important ingredients to ensuring that we successfully work as a team.

I could not finish off without highlighting some of the barriers to working effectively as a team. We need to watch out for competition, blaming each other, comparing each other to others or the other person to you, disrespect and lack of trust amongst many others. We must safeguard the effectiveness of our team by banishing these negative elements and we must learn to celebrate each other’s successes and victories as if one person fails, the other does also and if one person succeeds, so does the other spouse. If you find that you and your spouse are continually working against each other and leading individual lives, it is in the interest of you both to stop and re-align your goals and purpose so that you are not just wasting precious time building in vain. A kingdom which rises up against itself cannot stand. A good marriage engages and harnesses the strengths of each person to the benefit of the union. That way the marriage is healthy, thrives and those connected to it also benefits including society.