In a marriage, we are on the same team, working toward the same goals. However, our marriages don’t often reflect this well. We forget our goal in a marriage is no longer self-preservation but team preservation.
Naturally, we desire to climb in rank to others. We want admiration. We want others to look up to us. Sometimes, we even talk down to others thinking they’ll step back down to their “inferior place”. We believe we’re smarter, emotionally stronger, better at decisions, and have a better way of doing things than others. We keep a mental tally of all the things we did right and all the things they did wrong. Then, we later bring it up to prove a point. Our point? We are the better one. To ascend, we undermine others without taking into consideration their feelings. When we bring this mentality into our marriage, we can watch the marriage dissolve.
Think about a sports team. Teammates communicate with each other, plan their game collaboratively, coordinate their efforts, share the ball, pass to the teammate with the clear shot or the one with enough strength to make the goal. They come to each other’s defense. They push through cooperatively, until they’ve completed the task together.
What would it look like to work together as a team in your marriage? Envision your marriage working this way - communicating with each other, planning your “game” collaboratively, coordinating your efforts, sharing the workload/household chores, defending your spouse when he/she is attacked, respecting each other’s feelings, appreciating that your spouse does things differently than you and being ok with that. Doesn’t this sound divinely fitting?
In a marriage, we complete each other, not compete with each other. We either win together or lose together. This means we embrace the idea that it’s unacceptable for our spouse to feel like the loser. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Is your spouse feeling like a winner? If so, you are winning!
Just as a team places people in positions based on their strengths, we bring different strengths into the marriage. There’s a reason opposites attract. Sometimes it feels the reason is to frustrate us. But, believe it or not, our differing natures counterbalance and help us achieve more together. One person may be good at budgeting, one may have superb organizational skills, one may be the dreamer imagining the impossible while the other has practical, strategical plans to bring the dream to reality. Together, the dream is accomplished.
Home responsibilities can be divvied up to the person with the strength in that area. But keep in mind, even though you may be stronger in a certain area, there are other things to consider. Maybe it’s your spouse’s passion. Maybe your spouse believes he/she has strength in that area, and in that case, protecting your spouse’s confidence is more important than a task getting done your way. As a team, uplifting your spouse’s spirit is worth more points than “being right” or a job well done.
What if your house is divided because you and your spouse are in disagreement about an issue? Pray. Many couples find if both spouses are praying about a decision, God gives them a peace about taking one direction over another. The answer doesn’t always come right away. Keep at it. Continue asking God for unity in this decision. Talk to other couples who have demonstrated wise decision-making, a pastor, or a mentor about the decision. Sometimes others can see things more objectively without feelings distorting the view. Consider whether moving in one direction or the other spurs only one teammate while leaving the other in the dust. Ask yourself which way moves the whole marriage/family forward. That’s when you win!