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Have you ever felt that you were in competition with your spouse?

Ever felt like you were on two sides of the battlefield trying to wage war with one another? Maybe you raise your voice to emphasize a point and your spouse raises their voice right back - or storms off to another room. Perhaps you nitpick one another endlessly to show how the other could do it better, differently, or more like you. Or maybe you really need to talk but you no longer bother trying to communicate with him because in the back of your mind you know: he’s either not going to get it, he won’t care, or he simply won’t listen at all. So you just keep it bottled up inside and resent him for not meeting your needs. There are probably countless scenarios in which you might feel that you and your spouse are not on the same page and in fact playing against each other in the game of love, relationship, life, or whatever you want to call it. My guess is that if you find yourself in competition with your spouse on a regular basis, it probably leaves you feeling pretty discouraged and weary. It may even lead to wanting off your team.

If the aforementioned scenarios are your reality, then you, my friend, have somehow begun viewing your partner as your enemy. You’ve allowed fear, anger, jealousy, and resentment to shift your perspective, to cloud your judgement, to penetrate your marital bed. Instead of viewing your partner as a co-creator of life, love, and light, you’ve grown to expect the worst from him, viewing him as an opposing force that is out to tear you down rather than as a reflection of God’s love that is meant to lift you up. This mode of thinking inadvertently creates the very situations you should be avoiding by expecting and then reflecting them in your experiences. If you go into every situation believing your spouse can do no right, he never will in your eyes, even when he does. Your spouse is then doomed to sleep in the bed you have made for them. And guess what? You are right there in bed beside them.

A marriage with two people who feel like they are enemies of one another is not a safe or fun marriage.

It just isn’t any fun to be going against someone with whom you desire, or at least at one time desired, to be on your side. After all, the purpose of marriage has never been about competition with one another. Unity is the goal. Encouragement is the goal. Growth and evolution is the goal. Not sameness where we look, think, act, and believe all the same things. Sameness leads to one person being unnecessary. Instead, the desire for unity of purpose while maintaining, honoring, admiring, and accepting uniqueness is the objective. Both of you are important assets to your team and your team is important to Sprit, your children and those around you.

It is time today to think about how you might remake your bed and break that competitive cycle. Here are some thoughts:

  1. Remember that you are on the same team.

  2. Commit to playing cooperatively versus competitively.

  3. If you want to see your marriage as a team, then start looking for evidence that it could be.

  4. If you go looking, don’t minimize what you find.

  5. Embrace differences and let them be growth opportunities.

Are you willing to see your spouse as a creature with unique gifts, talents and experiences? Would you be willing to embrace and dare I say even value the way that person differs from you? You might experience your spouse in a whole new way if you do. Don’t get me wrong, differences can be a great source of frustration. This is why they offer amazing growth opportunities if you are willing to view them as such. As a result of how Gee and I differ, I get a chance to grow in my ability to manage frustration, embrace someone who is different from me, begin to modify something about myself, and much, much more. Sound unreal? Give it a try and see.

Do the work!

Act more like a teammate and less like an adversary. Do you realize that teammates become really good at what they do because they tirelessly practice and hone their skills individually while also learning how to fit into the team? Are you willing to commit to that? Are you willing to put the effort into running the race of your marriage to the best of your ability regardless of how the other runner shows up?

I can hear the argument already, “My mate never (won’t/can’t/doesn’t) plays like a teammate.” Well that does complicate things, but let me challenge you to understand that it does not mean you have to stop being the best team member you can be. When your spouse does something to hurt you or upset you; is thoughtless or inconsiderate; forgets to do something you asked him to do; makes you mad or causes you pain; when your spouse doesn’t seem to be on your side, ask yourself why you are feeling that specific emotion in that specific instance. What has his actions awakened within you that needs your attention? Ask yourself if you truly believe that his not washing the dishes like you asked was intended to hurt you. Remember, the answer ultimately has nothing to do with him or his (in)action and everything to do with your internal and external responses, desires, fears, and areas of growth.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you becoming a team player in your marriage as they have been helpful to me in mine. I guarantee that if you pursue this, there will be difficult moments but there also will be greater rewards. But you have to do the work!

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