Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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We’re a Team

On the cruise we wondered who the people sitting at our dinner table would be. You are assigned seats by the cruise company but they seem to put similar people together. We arrived at dinner first and soon two other young couples arrived. We introduced ourselves and got to know each other. The other two couples were both newlyweds, which made us the old guard being married for 14 years. One couple jokingly asked us for marriage advice and I quipped to the husbands, “every morning, look at your wife and say ‘I’m sorry.’ Just get it out of the way right at the beginning.”


They laughed at the joke, but it really wouldn’t be the advice that I would actually give. Clearly, they were not really looking for some deep found wisdom about marriage, more likely they were making polite conversation. Still, there is one thing that I believe helps my marriage more than anything else. That is that Amy and I are a team. We are typically united in purpose and tackle problems that come up together. Thus, when the really stressful things happen, there is little friction between us to distract and interfere.


I know quite a few married couples that seem to miss this. They operate more like people at work than people on a team. They each have “their” way of doing things and the other has learned that nothing will change it. They certainly love and care for each other, but they also lead dissimilar lives. Thus when truly stressful occurrences happen, they move in two different directions, often butting heads on what is the best response. They spend lots of physical and emotional energy trying to get pointed in the same direction before they can tackle the real issue at hand.


Now just because Amy and I are team-minded, doesn’t mean we always do everything together or think the same way. Just like there are different positions on a sports team, we have different positions at home. There are times she stays home with the kids while I go out and vice versa. Still we both know that the interests of the team are more important than our individual interests. We move as one unit down the field, to carry the analogy further.


One of the best examples of non-team thinking in couples is the 50/50 rule. Basically this means that each partner isn’t going to do more than half the work, leaving the other to do their share. The problem here is two-fold:


1)      If each person only does half of the work, the job never gets done. If there are 14 dishes that need to be cleaned, one person washes 7 of them. The next person washes 4 of them; the next person washes 1 of them, etc. Of course new dishes would arrive in the sink starting the count all over again. If the dishes need washing, then just wash the dishes.

2)      It implicitly states that you expect certain things done and you won’t do anything until those expectations are met. You’ll wash your half of the dishes, but your partner better wash the other half. Your relationship is based on conditions.

So, take a look at your relationships. Are you team oriented? Do you work together towards a goal or do you spend half of your time arguing about what the goal is? Again, I feel this is one of the strongest things about my marriage to Amy and this knowledge did not come without a lot of grief. So become team oriented and see what happens.