Teamwork isn’t reserved for inspirational sports movies like the new, fact-based drama “When the Game Stands Tall.” It matters even more in marriages, at least the ones that hope to see a silver anniversary—or even an aluminum one.
Lousy teamwork in sports means, at worst, a losing season. The same disconnect in a marriage can portend a crush of lawyers’ bills and a fractured family.
My wife and I don’t huddle each morning, armed with a chalkboard, whistle and playbook. Our boys would crack the chalkboard, hide the whistle and rip the best pages out of the playbook. Instead, our day-to-day operations live or die based on how well we work as a unit. And every day offers a different challenge.
That kind of teamwork potential can’t be assessed during the courtship phase of dating. It’s grand fun when you find out you both like mindless rom-coms, cry over same rock ballads and hate on that overhyped restaurant with the haughty servers. But will you gel as a team, especially when you start a family and teamwork becomes essential to success?
Here are some ways for couples to improve their teamwork skills and ensure both partners have their eyes on the prize – surviving another day as both parents and loving partners.
1. Scout Your Skill Sets: I tolerate washing the dishes but hate folding laundry. My wife is a scourge on weeds but routinely leaves her used silverware lying around. Couples eventually figure out their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, after the first few months of marriage. Don’t fight those skills. Use them for the household’s benefit – even if they fly in the face of generic gender roles. Yes, I sometimes wear an apron while cooking. Grease splatters, you know.
2. Become Communication Ninjas: Sometimes a simple phrase or inflection can start a fight with couples. It’s just a natural part of living together. That’s why clear communication is vital on both ends. Make sure your questions about the daily chores are answered properly, and certainly respond in kind. That will leave less chance for marital chaos.
3.Don’t Let Fights Fester: Nothing wrecks a team’s chemistry faster than hurt feelings. The 1978 New York Yankees are the exception that proves the rule. The same holds true for marriages. Couples must learn how to fight fairly and resolve problems before they spread. You’ll never work well as a team if lingering resentments are allowed to damage your unified front.
4. Synchronized Punishment Drills: Parents often create consequences on the fly when faced with their child’s poor behavior. So often what one parent rules is contradicted by his or her spouse moments later. In those cases, the first parent’s decree is the winner by default. It creates uncertainly to have dueling punishments in play. Fight over the movie you’ll see on date night, not how many minutes in time out spilled milk merits.
Photos credit: Tri-Star Pictures