Transcript below from Marriage Steps Podcast Episode 42 on "Six Tips for Improving Teamwork in Marriage"
Today I'm going to talk about six tips for building teamwork in marriage. If we really search our heart of hearts, I think a lot of us would agree that a top goal, if not the ultimate goal for marriage, is to develop a sense of teamwork. That's why we get married, because we want a partner, but we're not very good at being partners with our partner. A lot of us need help on how to become good partners. What does that look like? What pulls us apart? So I'm going to go through some tips to consider on building a sense of teamwork in your marriage.
We naturally develop teamwork in the beginning of our relationship. But through the years, that sense of togetherness falls apart and when that falls apart, everything falls apart with it. When we don't feel emotionally connected, the physical connection goes away too. And so a healthy marriage hinges upon how much couples feel like they're a team. If you were to interview a lot of couples on the street, I can guarantee most of them would say they do not feel like a team with their partner on multiple fronts. So the first part I'm going to cover here is different things that can pull us apart.
The first thing that can pull us apart are topics. For example, a lot of couples fight about money because they have different value systems around money. Some spouses are spenders, some are savers. Some view money as power, others view money as anxiety because of how they were raised around money. Everyone has a different relationship with money and different perspective on money so it pulls couples apart. Another topic that can pull couples apart is parenting. One parent is the disciplinarian, the other parent is more lenient so they lock horns over how to parent their children. It pulls them apart. Another topic for a lot of couples is sex. You have a high libido partner married to a low libido partner and navigating those waters is difficult and often pulls couples apart. What topics are pulling you and your spouse apart? In my marriage, my spouse and I are completely different in a lot of areas. On the parenting front I am more of the disciplinarian and my wife is more lenient. On the sexual front, I'm the high libido partner and my wife is the low libido partner. If we're not careful, these topics can pull us apart. So what topics are pulling you apart and harming your sense of teamwork?
Personalities can also pull us apart. I give all couples I work with the Neo Big Five because it's a great assessment to look at personality traits. It shows which traits you have in common with your spouse and which ones you don't have in common. Personality differences can pull us apart. You have an extrovert paired with an introvert. You have a high energy person mixed with a low energy person and the list can go on and on. In my marriage we have big differences in this area too. I am the extrovert and my wife is the introvert. I'm the high energy spouse and my wife is the low energy spouse. Temperament differences can be another factor that pulls us apart if we aren't careful. What are the main personality differences you have with your partner and how do they pull you apart and make you not feel like a team?
Another thing that can pull us apart are schedules. Schedules can include too much traveling, too many hobbies, or too much tech time. How are these items pulling you apart in your marriage? By the way, you don't have to try to drift apart in marriage, it's everyone's natural momentum. If you're not actively fighting against it, it's going to happen. It's a matter of time. We're imperfect people and we have all these things pounding us apart from one another, which destroys our sense of teamwork.
A top solution I highly recommend is start having a weekly meeting with your spouse. Think of your spouse as a business partner and the business is your life together. What do good business partners do? They have regular meetings so they're on the same page, so they're communicating, so they're negotiating, so they're delegating, and so they're prioritizing. That's what meetings do and that's why effective businesses have meetings. Imagine running a business with a business partner and you never have meetings! That business is going to suffer and probably fail. And that is what happens in marriage.
5-What to Cover In the Meeting
In the meeting, which should be once a week, cover all important topics for you as a couple. The topics will vary based on where you are in your life stage. For my wife and I, we cover money, parenting and our love bucket lists because those are all important topics for us. If you're not familiar, the love bucket lists are the main fillers that make us feel satisfied and the top drainers that make us feel negative in our relationship. Covering the important topics in your marriage once a week airs out what you're feeling, which prevents things from building up, which prevents conflict and withdrawal. Weekly meetings will get you on the same page to build teamwork! The length of the meetings will vary per week based on how much you have to discuss. My wife and I just did one Sunday night from 8-10 pm. We put our youngest to bed and our older kids were still awake doing various things and we had it in our bedroom.
6-Right Type of Heart in the Meeting
Within the meeting, remember to bring a heart of flexibility, respect, and openness. The top skill to practice is Bounce the Ball. As a reminder, the Bounce the Ball technique is where spouse one states their opinion on the topic and then bounces the ball by asking spouse two, "what do you think?" Spouse two then states their opinion on the topic and bounces the ball back to spouse one and says, "what do you think?" At that moment things change because now both have heard one another's position on the topic. Therefore, when spouse one responds they must adjust their position by a few degrees to honor what spouse two just said. So, spouse one states their new opinion then bounces the ball by saying "what do you think?" Spouse two then does the same thing in return. They keep moving back and forth like this until they reach a win win. You know you've found a win win when both partners feel good with the decision without any hidden resentments.
Having a weekly meeting covering the most important topics in your marriage while having an open, respectful attitude as you Bounce the Ball to win/win solutions will build teamwork in your relationship! After our meeting on Sunday I was telling my wife how much closer it made me feel with her. I encourage and challenge you to try this out this week in your marriage to experience the benefits.
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What other tips would you add to develop a sense of teamwork in marriage?