Have you struggled for unity in your marriage and wished the two of you could be more of a team? In any team sport you can’t have players running their own route, playing any position they choose, and going by their own rules. Disorganization and disunity leads to disintegration.
There is a very real Enemy who is doing all he can to win against your marriage team. Satan doesn’t want you unified. He knows that when you and your spouse are unified you are actually living out the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Jesus prayed that his followers would “…be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).
As couples we have to work on being a team. We grow stronger and better at it when we bring intentionality into our marriage. We will often refer to “Team Mitchell” when one of us fills in the gap for the other in getting something done or covering for the other. Even in general conversation we try to reinforce the fact that we are one.
So what are some healthy ingredients that every marriage needs in order to be a strong team? Here are four key things to build your marriage and they spell…TEAM:
Each player on the team has to trust the other. We have to trust each other’s intentions. We have to trust each other’s abilities. And we have to trust that we have each other’s back.
The famous chapter on love in the Bible says that “love… always trusts” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Guard your heart from deteriorating into a lack of trust in your spouse. We have often seen couples believe the worst of intentions instead of assuming the best.
We recognize that trust can be broken. In any intimate relationship that’s going to happen. The bigger the break the longer it takes to heal. In our own marriage we have seen some of the biggest breaks of trust imaginable. Yet with God’s help, with all humility and repentance, trust is rebuilt and restored.
Richard Gurney wrote that, “More than any other…deficiency…it is the lack of mutual empathy which results in sword drawing in marriage.” Empathy brings the ability to feel with your spouse. The Apostle Paul wrote of this saying, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
Empathy cares about what one another is experiencing. Instead of just hearing what they are saying, you are connecting with their feelings by stepping into their world to try and grasp things from their perspective. Practicing empathy says, “We’re in this together. We’re a team. We’re one.” We wrote more about empathy in a prior post and you can find that here.
The foremost researcher on marriage, Dr. John Gottman, writes that “Married couples who regularly express appreciation for each other have much happier, stronger marriages.” As a team you are identifying and calling out what is good in your spouse. Showing appreciation for the little things each day helps you connect and feel noticed. It’s positive reinforcement that you are both valued and matter.
Every team has a goal. Score more points than the other team. Win the most games in the division. Take the national championship (or World Cup). Mission brings the team together with a unified focus and purpose.
As a couple, talk regularly about what is your mutual mission. You may have several categories: your mission to grow together spiritually, your mission to raise godly children, your mission in service at church, etc. Be specific about what you would like to accomplish in those areas. Write it down. Then revisit your mission regularly and talk about how you’re doing and how you can take next steps. Your shared mission will draw you together as a team playing out of the same playbook.
As we said, all of this takes intentionality. As you work on building TEAM in your marriage you will feel more purposeful, connected, and stronger as you build your marriage.