Teamwork in Marriage: Essential Ingredients For Success

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Teamwork in Marriage: Essential Ingredients For Success

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

The beauty of a strong marriage is in the details. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the most successful marriage relationships have something major in common: in the big adventures as well as the day-to-day grind, the happiest, healthiest couples do life together as a team.

We love this quote about how the best marriages have teamwork as their foundation:

“The greatest marriages are built on teamwork. A mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration, and a never-ending portion of love and grace.” – Fawn Weaver

Today we’re going to dig into the three major components of teamwork outlined in the above quote: respect, admiration, and grace. These are all critical ingredients to any winning team, so let’s break them down!

1. RESPECT

Respect is an essential ingredient to any team’s success, whether on the sports field or in a marriage. Merriam-Webster Online defines respect as “an act of giving particular attention; a high or special regard.”

When a team’s players respect one another, they:

  • Value each other
  • Support one another
  • Cheer each other on
  • Are considerate of one another
  • Treat each other with kindness and patience

A team built on respect has a much higher chance of winning the game because they’re not tearing one another down. Instead, each member appreciates his or her teammates for their strengths, and lifts their teammates up in moments of weakness. Team members share an end game: win, and keep winning until the very end.

In a marriage, it’s important to work together toward your end game. Root for your spouse. Support them in times of weakness. Help them keep running the race until you reach the finish line together. It’s a lifelong journey, but a worthwhile one when you stick together.

2. ADMIRATION

Admiration builds on respect and takes it to a whole new level. Merriam-Webster defines admiration as “a feeling of respect and approval; an object of esteem.” In other words, without respect, you can’t have admiration.

To admire another is to hold them in very high regard, or to find them compelling, fascinating, or amazing. The best teams are made up of players who are constantly “wowed” by their teammates’ abilities, instead of players who are in competition with one another or striving to the the star of the team.

In marriage, the concept is the same. Husbands and wives should cultivate that same “wow” factor with one another. And to take that a step farther, be vocal with each other–and with the outside world–about the characteristics and talents you admire. Let your spouse know what it is about him or her that fascinates you.

3. GRACE

When teammates have a healthy dose of grace for one another, the unit as a whole can continue moving toward their collective goal with little hindrance. But if a team falls apart over a player’s mistake, a bad play, or a lost game, it’s going to be that much harder to pick up the pieces and continue pressing forward as a unit. Feelings will be hurt, respect and admiration may be damaged, and morale will be crushed.

Every great team understands that sometimes, things won’t go as planned. Sometimes, you’ll lose a game. One of you might make a mistake or face failure. That impacts the team in the short term, but it doesn’t have to destroy what you’ve built together.

In the same way, husbands and wives must have plenty of grace for one another. There are going to be times in life that get you down: failures, disappointments, missteps, tragic events, illness, and more. Some of these things might be direct results of actions that either you or your spouse takes. And when that happens, it’s important to always have a healthy dose of grace ready.

One effective way to cultivate grace is to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Creating a sense of empathy within yourself will help you extend grace to your spouse when it’s due. And if you’re willing to do that for your spouse, they’ll be more willing to offer the same to you.

Stay in the game! No matter what happens, remember you’re on the same team.

If you would like help developing or enriching your teamwork in your relationship, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Building an Intimate Marriage: Grace & Forgiveness

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Close-up of a young couple in love

Building an Intimate Marriage: Grace & Forgiveness

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Marriage is hard work. The reality that we’re broken people becomes very apparent when we share our lives with someone else. We bring our unique personalities into the marriage, but we also bring our selfish nature.

Frustration, friction, disagreements–they are all certain to show up, but the way we react to these issues and obstacles shapes not only our character, but the strength and the intimacy of our marriage.

As much as we lead with love toward our spouse, we must also lead with grace and forgiveness.

EACH TIME HE SAID, “MY GRACE IS ALL YOU NEED. MY POWER WORKS BEST IN WEAKNESS.” SO NOW I AM GLAD TO BOAST ABOUT MY WEAKNESSES, SO THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST CAN WORK THROUGH ME. – 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9

Forgiveness lies at the heart of marriage. Two people living together, day by day, stumbling over each other’s beings, are bound to cause pain, sometimes innocently, sometimes not. And if forgiveness is not given to cleanse the marriage soul, condemnation hovers over the relationship. Resentment piles on top of resentment until we blame our partners not just for their wrongdoing, but also for our failure to forgive them.

This is a red-light danger zone. Human forgiveness was never designed to be given on a grand scale. Forgiveness in marriage can only heal when the focus is on what our spouses do, not on who they are. Partners forgive best for specific acts. Trying to forgive carte blanche is silly. Nobody can do it but God.

We overload the circuits of forgiveness when we try to forgive our partner for not being the sort of partner we want him or her to be. There are other means for coping with this: courage, empathy, patience, hope. But for mere human beings, forgiveness in the grand manner must be left for God. For it is God’s forgiveness that empowers our ability to forgive the relatively small things–which is no minor miracle in itself.

When we forgive a partner, we are revealing God’s love to him or her, free from condemnation. Human forgiveness magnifies divine forgiveness. A truly intimate marriage can be built upon a strong foundation of grace and forgiveness.

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If you would like help with your marriage and grace and forgiveness, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our coaches or counselors.

Don’t Waste Your Awkwardness

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awkward cracks ground

Don’t Waste Your Awkwardness

By Sammy Rhodes

If we had to make our relationship with awkwardness Facebook official, we would probably have to choose the “It’s complicated” option. On the one hand, we’re drawn to awkwardness. It’s in the shows we love: The Office, Arrested Development, Parks and Rec, Modern Family, and New Girl. We can’t seem to get enough of awkwardness.

And yet we’re terrified of it, especially of being marked with what my friend Les Newsom calls the new scarlet letter: “A” for awkwardness. One of our greatest fears is leaving a party only to have friends lock eyes with each other and complain about how awkward we were.

Maybe we haven’t yet realized we’re both drawn to awkwardness and afraid of it because deep down we’re all awkward people. Just think about the last time you were in an elevator. Everyone’s awkwardness shines a little brighter in an elevator.

Revealing Our Cracks 

I probably should define awkwardness. What I mean is there’s a gap between what you are and what you should be, a disconnect between the real you and the ideal you. What awkward moments (and people) do is simply to shine the spotlight on that gap, revealing the cracks in our humanity, no matter how shiny and cool we may seem on the outside.

A few years ago I met with a student who had lived most of his life with a porn addiction. Over coffee he told me that sex, much less pornography, was simply not something that ever got talked about in church. The sad thing is he grew up in one of those gospel-centered, published-author, preachers-whose-podcasts-you-download kind of churches. His family felt the same way.

What he said nearly broke my heart: “Because no one ever talked about porn I felt like it must be the worst sin in the world, and so I was so scared and ashamed to tell anyone about it.” What my student was describing was shame.

One of the saddest realities of life is the things we need to talk about the most we tend to talk about the least. Shame is often the culprit. Author and speaker Brené Brown likes to say that shame only needs three things to survive: silence, secrecy, and judgment. If you look behind your awkward moments, you will almost always find shame. And instead of uncovering the sources of our shame to each other, we hide.

Longing to Be Found 

When my youngest daughter was three, she was the worst hide-and-seek player of all time. She would find her hiding spot, typically a closet upstairs, close herself in with the doors not quite shut, and then loudly begin to say “In here! I’m in here!” until someone found her. She loved to hide, but she wanted to be found.

So do we. We love to hide from each other. We hide our flaws, our defects, and anything we feel will make us look like we don’t have it all together. We hide how we’re really doing, even from our closest friends and family. We’re afraid the person who finds us will meet us with condemnation and judgment. So we lock ourselves away, resolving to never share the things in our lives that are killing us: broken relationships with parents, lust that’s blossoming into addiction, depression that’s overwhelming us to the point of wanting to end it all, a relationship with food that makes us hate and do harmful things to our bodies.

But we still long to be found. It’s why websites like PostSecret and Tumblr exist. They’re places where we can talk freely about our struggles without running the risk of being judged by our family, friends, or potential employers. The problem with doing vulnerability online with people who barely know us versus doing vulnerability in real life with friends and family is it never quenches the thirst we have to be both known and loved. Being found involves both: being really known and truly loved. As Tim Keller has observed:

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.

Awkwardness is an invitation to be found. It’s an invitation to vulnerability, and vulnerability is where intimacy and connection are born. It’s also an invitation to throw yourself on the grace that makes vulnerability possible at all. At the end of the day, awkward people are the only kind of people God loves; because awkward people are the only kind of people there are.

Resign Yourself to the Awkwardness of Life

One of my favorite lines in movie history comes from a fortune teller in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. Jesse (played by Ethan Hawke) and Celine (played by Julie Delpy) have met by chance on a train, and after an incredibly engaging conversation, spend the night walking the streets of Vienna, where they run into a fortune teller. They jokingly decide it would be fun to have her tell their fortune. What she says is this: “Resign yourself to the awkwardness of life.”

Resign yourself to the awkwardness of talking about where you are, not where you’ve been pretending to be. Resign yourself to the awkwardness of being vulnerable about your struggles with close friends and family. Resign yourself to the awkwardness of God’s work of grace in you to begin to close that gap while simultaneously making you able to talk about it. Resign yourself to the awkwardness of life.

Don’t waste your awkwardness. It may be the very place you learn to be vulnerable and thus experience the grace of God.