5 Ways To Improve Your Marriage With Teamwork

For some couples the wedding has just ended and you are settling into your marriage routine. For others, you have been married for several years, you are all consumed by your kid's activities and barely have enough time to sleep, let alone work on your relationship. But this question pertains to both sets of couples. Do you consider yourself a team?

According to a recent study that was highlighted in this New York Times article, most of us don't when it comes to having a decisive marriage. We just simply slide through our marriages and the major decisions we have to make in order to feel like we feel like a team. What's interesting about this study is that most of us have probably been on a team one way or another; from our sports teams as children to our present work teams. We have always relied on other people to get the job done and to win.

So why doesn't it translate when we get married? The main reason is our approach. We don't utilize the team concept when it comes to our relationships. We usually come together because the people we are marrying usually best meet our individual needs, not that we will make the best team. So when we have conflict with our partner or when that partner does something that is far too damaging, we find it's just easier to change partners.

Even I, who have been on teams almost all of my life, found it difficult to handle arguments with my wife. The main reason was that I focused more on my needs than our needs. One of our more famous stories that my wife usually tells at parties had to deal with one of our adventures to the grocery store to buy formula for our infant daughter, Olivia. We would normally buy Enfamil with Iron, but on this day, I didn't have enough money in my wallet to buy it, so I just bought the regular Enfamil. Well, most of you know what happened next. My wife was furious that I would put my need to keep a few extra dollars in the bank before the families' needs of making sure our daughter was healthy. So the next day, she bought the one most expensive high chairs in the store. What did I say about this? Nothing.

Over time, we have grown and have shifted our marriage to a more team approach, and that has helped us thrive in our marriage and aid in the decisions we make as a couple. Here are 5 phrases that can help you utilize the team concept when making decisions.

  1. There Is No "I" In Team: This is an easy concept to forget, especially if we feel that we are in competition with our partner, either for affection, in our careers or for time. Take a step back and ask yourselves, what are some changes you need to make so ensure that you and your partner operate as a team?
  2. Take One For The Team: This is based on compromise. Sometimes when we are in conflict, it will take days or even weeks before we reach an agreement on an issue. I know we usually maintain our position because we often feel that giving it up our means weakness, but look at all the good times you have lost with your spouse while you were so busy maintaining that position. At times conflict is inevitable, but it can be a powerful thing for your marriage when you can put your partners' needs before your own.
  3. Together Each Achieves More: The acronym for team is very powerful message to remember. Some of those major decisions that you should make as a team should be how many kids you will have and how you raise them, where you want to live, how you will navigate your careers, and how you will handle finances. Working jointly together and not just sliding in a role can make your relationship more cohesive.
  4. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work: You and your partner have their own individual goals and aspirations for your life and you should. Remember, you were an individual before you were married. But how many times have you not shared your dreams with your spouse because your feared what they might say? Keep in mind, your spouse could be your biggest champion, but you have to let him or her know what your thoughts are.
  5. "The Strength Of The Team Is Each Individual Member; The Strength Of Each Member Is The Team:" This quote by Coach Phil Jackson has to do with bringing your best self to the table. I always ask my clients if they know their own personality and their spouses. It's very important to understand so you can make sure you put each other in the best position to excel. We can tend to overextend ourselves and then not have enough energy to give to our relationship. When we know each other's personality we have the ability to see where our spouse is being drained and either point it out or take on some of the responsibility.

By applying these team principles to your marriage, your marriage can strive when every day and when you have to make those major decisions too.
What other team concepts have you applied to your marriage that has helped you be successful?