Working Together as a Team in Your Marriage
This blog was written by Jesse Parrish, Programming Manager for WinShape Teams. WinShape Teams develops teams and leaders to be strong, healthy, and more fulfilled and is one of the five ministries of the WinShape Foundation.
At WinShape Teams, we use several simple principles to equip teams and leaders to work as teammates in their relationships. While we teach these principles in the context of work, they have direct application in marriage relationships, as well. These three principles—celebrate, encourage, and problem solve—promote safety and build healthy relationships. Let’s dive into them!
When you celebrate your spouse, individually, or your marriage, collectively, you look back and acknowledge an accomplishment. Intentionally pausing, reflecting, and acknowledging is a significant investment in your marriage.
Celebration invests in your marriage by:
- Validating the journey, the highs and lows. Validation communicates, “I see you. I know you. I care about you.”
- Strengthening positive attachment. Reminiscing on shared experiences together creates stronger neural pathways in your brain that reinforce “togetherness.”
- Increasing positive regard. In short, you’re more thankful for your spouse. The more “wins” you identify in your journey together, the more you’ll see and admire the strengths, skills, and positive attributions of your spouse.
We know there are obvious built-in opportunities for celebrating such as anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, etc. What great reminders to celebrate! However, the daily habit of celebration is where the real investment in your marriage takes place. Ask yourself:
- What is a “win” my spouse experienced this week?
- What is an attribute I admire in my spouse, and how have I seen them use it recently?
Consider celebrating your spouse here and now through a note, flowers, verbal affirmation, or a hug. Take a few moments at the end of the day to celebrate together!
Truett Cathy said, “How do you know someone needs encouragement? If they are breathing!” We all long to know, with confidence, we have someone in our corner who believes in us. The great news—you have the amazing privilege of playing that role for your spouse.
Encouragement is the fuel that drives us forward. If celebration looks back, encouragement looks ahead. To encourage literally means, “to give support, confidence, or hope.”
The most powerful encouragement is given to combat fears, doubts, and insecurities. God has positioned us to be His voice of hope to our spouse’s fears. Consider these questions:
- What is a challenge (small or big) my spouse is (or we are) experiencing right now?
- What fear, doubt, or insecurity does it bring up in them?
- What attribute, skill, or character trait I admire in my spouse will help them in this challenge?
- How can God use me to encourage them?
When you have an opportunity, pull your spouse aside, look them in the eyes, and share encouragement. It can be as simple as: I know __________ (insert challenge) is challenging right now and you might be feeling __________ (insert fear/doubt/insecurity). I want you to know I love you and believe in you. I admire your __________ (insert attribute/skill/character trait). Regardless of what happens, just know I and God __________ (insert truth).
3. Problem Solve
Teaming is all about working together to identify collective success and how you’re going to achieve it, overcoming problems along the way. In marriage, you solve a range of problems daily such as, “Who’s picking up the kids?”; or “What’re we eating for dinner?”; to “Do we save for an emergency fund or get the car that will be more reliable?” The problems marriages face range from mundane to life altering in their implications.
Team well and problem solve with your spouse in these various scenarios.
- Adopt a “we” versus “it” mentality. Recognize you’re on the same team against “it.” At times, you can mistake your spouse as the opponent. Take a moment to consider that they’re not the obstacle to your “success;” rather, you might have different expectations or desired outcomes that are creating frustration. Consider what each of your “signature moves” are for attacking problems and lean into those strengths.
- Seek understanding. What do I expect or want to happen? What do you expect or want to happen? What resources do we have available? What’s in our control? What’s out of our control? Take time to truly identify the core of the issue that stands between you and your spouse’s “success.”
- Choose which problem to attack. Every problem has a solution, and every solution has its own set of problems. Decide what problem and solution you’re most willing or able to tackle.
- Give yourself permission to be creative. Brainstorm ideas, and explore all options. Remember no idea is a bad idea, so designate time to consider all solutions.
Ultimately, when you celebrate with your spouse and encourage them, you pave the way for better communication and problem solving. You build trust in your marriage, and the more you trust your spouse, seeing them in a positive light, the more you long to celebrate and encourage them. With intentional effort and investment, these teamwork principles become a feedback loop in your marriage. The more you practice these teamwork principles in your marriage, the more natural they’ll become and the deeper you’ll connect with your spouse.