How To Build Teamwork In Marriage

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) What makes some marriages last and others crumble? Three relationship experts give their best advice on how to make your relationship last.

Tribune News Service

For those of us who’ve experienced divorce, we know the negative feelings of brokenness. At some point, our happy union either dissolved or exploded. The teamwork we’d pledged to honor went sour.

To examine how a marriage crumbles, we all need to remind ourselves the truth about any relationship. Even a basic friendship requires dedicated mutual support for survival.

“Marriage is based on mutual support” says a marriage counselor we know. We’ll call her Teresa. “If the teamwork is constant, the bond will hold. If not, the crumbling process begins.”

Teresa says she has worked with clients whose marriages were hanging by a thread. “When I explained that you’ve got to gear up the teamwork, this has always helped those I counseled,” she insists.

Relationship empowerment requires each person to start paying close attention to the other. It boils down to having the other person’s back consistently.

For instance, if your mate mentions cooking steaks for dinner, it helps to ask: Should I make salad and baked potatoes? Or, if your mate is getting a cold, it helps to ask: Do you want me to pick up some over-the-counter medicine?

“I used to be a team player when I first got married,” says a friend of ours we’ll call Derrick. “But, when I got my first promotion at work, I had to travel a lot. I deliberately tried to tune out my wife’s needs.”

These tips can help strengthen teamwork in any love relationship:

-Try asking, rather than assuming. For example, ask, “Do you need some quiet time to take a nap?” Or ask, “Would you like to stay home alone while I run some errands?”

-Share your vulnerabilities. If you act like you can do it all, your mate will not feel he or she can share problems with you. Without openness, there is no team. Each person trying to impress the other can wear thin pretty quickly.

-Wish for things out loud. Do say, “I wish we could afford some household help.” By making your wishes known, you give your mate a good chance to step up. For example, your spouse might bring you an ad for a cleaning service.

-Brag on your mate, especially when things are shaky. Let’s say your husband forgot to drop off your dry cleaning. If you say, “I appreciate the fact you stopped for milk. You’re so nice,” this proves you are supportive of your spouse without keeping score.

“I’ve learned that in-laws and jealous friends can help destroy a marriage,” says a minister we’ll call Franklin.

“If they can get the couple arguing, they can drive a wedge. That’s why it pays to limit how much time you spend with family and friends as a married couple.”

Franklin goes on to say that even well-meaning friends can learn your financial secrets or sexual issues.

“Once your sister mentions your poor credit rating or speaks of medication to enhance sexual arousal, your mate will know the cat is out of the bag. People who hover too close to your home can learn enough to destroy the two of you,” Franklin emphasizes.

As a united team, remember that your support belongs with your spouse. You can love other people and help them in all kinds of ways, but don’t threaten your marriage in order to do so.
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe, Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)

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