We had a wonderful discussion at bible study / small group this week that I definitely want to share with all of you. This simple analogy may seem a bit macho, but I assure you it is powerful and can transform how you relate, live, communicate with and love on your spouse. I’m a HUGE fan of Georgia Tech sports, but I’m not exactly a crazed sports nut, so pardon my lack of powerful coach quotes and technical sports jargon.
Consider how your approach to so many aspects of your marriage would change if you looked at your marriage as a truly united and cohesive TEAM.
The reality is 50% of ALL marriages, including Christian marriages fail by ending in divorce. What breaks my heart is the “successful” 50% are still not necessarily joyful, fulfilling, or God glorifying. So what will be you marriage’s differentiator? How will your marriage win amongst all the dismal failures? Our answer is submitting to and fiercely pursuing a deep relationship with God and our spouse. The next question is “How do we do that?”… below are a few key characteristics of a successful team that may very well be your next baby step for moving in that direction.
1. Clearly Defined & Shared Purpose
This is a keystone of an effective team… sharing and living a clearly defined purpose. What is your purpose? What are you living for? God has blessed you with each other, how are you going to honor that?
Thankfully Christ defined our priorities clearly: God, Marriage, Kids, and “other stuff”. Invest quality time, honesty, worship, prayer, submission, servanthood, selflessness, and time reading the Bible into your relationship with God and it will have an incredible “trickle” down effect in all aspects of your life and relationships.
It would be decidedly difficult for the Yankees to win the World Series, if each player was not showing up and trying to win each game!
2. Effective Communication
Effective communication is conceptually EXTREMELY simple and easy breezy… it is the pesky submission and “getting over yourself” parts that inhibits our abilities to follow-through and execute appropriately. Effective communication can often feel odd or awkward, but it surely does NOT involve sharing everything that pops into mind!
Here is a quick cheat sheet for effective communication:
- LISTEN to and FOCUS on the words coming out of the OTHER person’s mouth without interrupting.
- REPEAT what the person said out loud and CONFIRM your understanding.
- COMPROMISE with each other so you are legitimately on the same page.
- ACT as needed / appropriate, with consideration as a follow up to whatever you talked about.
- OFFER genuine apology.
These few points may revolutionize how you and your spouse relate and communicate with each other. These activities encourage participatory and engaging conversation. This may sometimes involve shutting your mouth or listening to something you do not necessarily want to hear.
If both people are acting with the intent of serving and submitting to each other and “the team” you will be positioned to win. Effective communication ABSOLUTELY involves ACTION!
In whatever you do or say, you should intentionally consider: “Is this for the greater purpose of affirming and supporting our team?”
Bonus Note #1: “Brutal honesty” is rarely necessary… what can be positive about being “brutal”? Brutality yields pain. You should never want to inflict main on your teammate! You should definitely be honest, but choose genuine authenticity that embodies consideration, grace, respect, and care.
Bonus Note #2: We all know this from the nasty faces we freely give on occasion, communication is not solely verbal! Be aware of and control what your body and face are saying!
Bonus Note #3: Just as you and your spouse desire quality communication… so does Jesus! He does not want you to only pray during the last 2 minutes you can keep your exhausted eyes open at night before bed or while driving, listening to the radio, and talking on your cell phone.
3. Mutual Trust, Commitment, and Support
You have to be able to depend on each other! In order for a team to optimally operate, you have to be on the same page. Trust, commitment, and support are built on foundations of a shared purpose and effective communication. As you continually “put your money where your mouth is” and act in love you prove yourself to your teammate and increase your spouse’s “buy in”.
This involves SERVING your teammate / the team with your absolute best efforts in all you do. Be available to and a safe, loving, and comfortable place for your spouse. While this may initially sound funky, show her as often as possible that she is your #2 priority (as an outflowing / result of putting Christ as the #1 priority). Show her you will always choose her over anything else.
When you engage your children, extended family, friends, or anyone else… be an undeniable, unwavering, and indisputable united front. People should see and notice your unity and devotion to each other. It should be pleasantly “different”. Teammates should not demean each other, argue, bicker, or disagree in front of other people. Period. When you do those things, you neither serve your purpose, effectively communicate, or serve each other.
This requires unity (AKA: compromise) for the greater mission of accomplishing your objectives together. Sorry to break it to ya… but this involves real work and occasional spiritual / emotional discomfort. In our broken sinfulness, getting over ourselves (AKA: submission) is not the easiest endeavor. However, that is precisely where Christ is waiting with open arms to show us His love and where the Holy Spirit has room to radiantly operate.
- When was the last time you did not act in the interest of the team? Did you apologize? What would you do differently now?
- What is the purpose of your marriage?
- What do you need to change about your life, choices, and commitments to better align your life with Christ’s priorities and your marriage?