It is with great delight that I introduce guest blogger Amber.
Amber is a wife, mom, and freelancer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can find her writing about intentional living, faith, and books at http://www.alternativegrace.com/ and @alternativegrace on Instagram.
I love being married, but I don’t always love being married. Ya know?
My husband and I are almost to four years. Although I’d describe our marriage as strong, it’s definitely been tested over the last year or so with the pregnancy and birth of our first child. I’d say we’ve had our first legit “rough patches” that the marriage veterans described to us back when we asked for advice on our save-the-date cards.
It’s all good. We’re making it through with intention and effort and more than a little patience and grace. But if I had to pick one thing that’s been the most helpful, it would probably be this idea:
When you’re married, you’re a team.
Seems simple, I know, but it’s easy to forget and hard to put into practice.
Here are my best tips – learned through experience – for applying this metaphor in your marriage.
Think of yourselves as “one.”
This is the biggest idea here, I think. When you’re on a team, you’re one. It’s not about the spiritual, “two-becoming-one” you heard on your wedding day, though I think that relates. It just means you’re always on the same side.
You either both win or you both lose. Together. There’s no you vs. him – you’re on the same side, always.
Be generous with your positivity and encouragement.
Watch any great team and you’ll observe a vibe of support and positivity, made most evident by the shouts and cheers and chants. Teammates are always rooting for each other. They’re liberal and loud with their encouragement.
It seems cheesy, but I’ve learned that I need to cheer on my husband like I would a teammate: “you got this” and “great job” and even the occasional high-five. It’s amazing the effect this has.
Take time to regularly strategize.
A team doesn’t go into a game by just showing up and being like, “Okay, let’s do this!” They proactively prepare by practicing and strategizing. And they set aside time to come up with those plans before the games happen.
We need to do the same thing in our marriages. We need to make time to talk about how we’re doing life together. It can be something as simple as carving out some time every Sunday to consider the week ahead and make a plan for getting through it successfully, together.
When it’s not going well, stay hopeful and get reflective.
Sometimes things are tough for a team. There’s a tough game or a slump in the season. When this happens, good teams respond with hope and thinking. They know everyone’s doing their best and wants the same thing (wins), so they continue to stay positive while reflecting on the game and how they can do better next time.
This is so brilliant when applied to marriage. You trust that your spouse is doing the best he can and remember he wants the same results as you (a good life together). You stay positive and reflect on what’s not going well. “It’s been a hard week. What can we do?” “Last night didn’t go well. What happened?” “Next time, let’s try…” The result is a hopeful, unified front that isn’t going to give up just because things aren’t going well at the moment.
Get a coach!
Good teams have coaches, people who are experts and are watching from the sidelines. They can see the big picture and help the players understand how they might improve their game.
Don’t be afraid to get a “coach” in your marriage, someone to help you along the way. It could be a couple that you look up to or a professional. And be proactive about it: teams don’t seek out coaches when they’re losing; they have coaches from the beginning.
Okay, I think I’ve stretched this metaphor as far as it can go. I’m sure I’ll glean more marriage wisdom over the years, but for now, thinking of my husband as my teammate has been so helpful for me.
The bottom line is this: how much better (and more fun) would our marriages be if we gave fewer eye-rolls and backhanded comments and more high-fives and “we’ll get ‘em next times”s?
There will still be hard times. Marriage is never gonna be perfect, but when we’re intentional about it, it can be really really good.
What has been helpful for you in your marriage or relationship? Share with us in the comments!