Science says having this at work makes you happier and more successful, I think it does the same for your relationship.
I have a good marriage. I know I do, and I’m proud of it (not perfect or superior, but happy and rock-solid).
What makes our relationship thrive is much more than the fact that we’ve always been deeply in love and committed to each other.
We’ve weathered so many storms and come out stronger and better as we enter the stretch towards 20 years together.
We’ve overcome obstacles, such as serious illness, deaths, toxic extended family relationships, multiple job losses, and serious money issues.
But instead of weakening and breaking us, they made us stronger together and galvanized our relationship.
So what is this magic formula?
Well, it’s not magic at all, it's the opposite of magic and it's no mystery.
What makes our marriage good is how we function.
We act as a team.
Our marriage is 100% teamwork, and we're both totally committed to our team.
We do everything for the common good.
We pool all of our resources, whatever they might be, and use them to benefit the whole.
I know that makes lots of people nervous. But if you're with the right person it doesn't have to.
Because being a team doesn’t mean giving up who you are or your dreams.
It means having the team working for all goals — collective and individual.
Teamwork in the office has loads of benefits, and we're used to acting as a team at work, so why not at home?
It's an essential part of any successful and happy workplace that's been proven by science.
Here are some of the benefits you can expect when you work in a strong team at your job:
- Great ideas
- Greater happiness
- Personal growth
- Less burnout
- Skill enhancement
- Better productivity
- Safer risk-taking
- Less stress
- More creativity
With all of these great benefits, why not use the same principles to strengthen your relationship?
Isn't that what you want in your personal life as well?
To feel protected and be productive no matter what the outside world throws at you?
In my marriage, teamwork gives me the stability to thrive as an individual within the group.
When I look at couples who don’t function as well as they could, lack of teamwork always seems to be the common denominator.
Even people who love each other deeply can have issues that don’t allow them to become partners with their spouses fully.
By focussing on what brings strength and coherence to a relationship, anyone can have better teamwork.
I’m using what I know as the template for success because the teamwork in my own marriage is what's kept us strong.
It's the common denominator that's held us together through some grueling times.
Here are the areas where teamwork can strengthen a relationship:
When my husband and I got together, I moved into his apartment.
Since we were already able to afford our rents separately, we knew we’d be getting a break moving in together.
The apartment wasn’t huge, but it was big enough.
So we decided to stay there and take the money I’d been paying for rent and use it to pay off some outstanding debt I had.
That was our first act of teamwork, and boy did it pay off.
We also knew a couple who moved in together around the same time as us and immediately got a big apartment that cost the combined total of what they’d been paying separately.
They figured that it would be good to get something bigger and better for the combined total because they could both afford their rents individually.
Unfortunately, one of them lost their job soon after they moved, and the strain of carrying the rent while one partner looked for work was devastating.
By contrast, in our first year together, we paid off about $6000 in debt.
Instead of my husband thinking only of himself and leaving me to deal with my debt alone, he knew it was best to take care of it together.
When we became a team, our money became our collective money, and we worked together to pay our debts.
Working together, we paid most of it off within a year.
We’ve always pooled our money and done what’s best together.
We’ve never thought of money as mine and yours but ours.
We talk about money every day.
We always know exactly how much we have.
With our finances combined, we always have a reserve to cover all of our expenses.
When times are lean, we pull back on extras and luxuries.
We do this equally and fairly.
Over the years, we’ve taken turns earning more than each other.
But since we work for the team, no matter who makes more at any given time we both have enough to cover what we need.
In this way, we’re also both responsible for and accountable to each other.
This is how we’ve survived our most challenging financial times and managed to thrive and survive it all.
Before we even knew if we'd have kids, we decided if we'd did, we'd always present a united front.
- not undermining each other
- not contradicting each other
- not using the kids against each other
And that’s how we’ve always functioned.
We’ve always given our daughter a united front; she’s always had consistency from us.
We don’t use her as a pawn in our arguments.
She knows that if one of us says yes or no, so does the other.
This has been an essential factor in our daughter’s development of security and trust in the world.
She knows that no matter what happens outside our front door, the world behind that door is consistent and transparent.
I also believe it’s how we’ve taught her how to have integrity.
Parenting is tricky.
It brings up our issues and trauma.
Subconsciously, a lot gets drudged up when we have kids.
They're a strain on a relationship especially in those first few years when money's tight and nobody gets enough sleep.
But if you agree to hold it together no matter what and present a united front, it helps stabilize the children while insulating your relationship against many of the stresses of parenting.
Loyalty is something that seems taken for granted, but it’s not necessarily a given in a relationship.
During my childhood, I watched as my grandmother (father’s mother) belittled and emotionally abused my mother.
My mother was so frustrated and exhausted that she’d sometimes break down crying in our car when driving us kids around.
It was traumatic to witness.
My father never shielded or protected her from our nasty grandmother.
As a result, my mother was tormented year after year by her.
Our grandmother also took out her nastiness on us kids.
She gave us used dirty Christmas presents while giving our cousin beautiful, brand new expensive ones right in front of us.
All of this just to be purposefully hurtful to my mother.
My father let this happen and never once stuck up for us or tried to make it right.
This was the level of loyalty I grew up with, and I vowed I would never let that happen to my own family should I be lucky enough to have one.
So when old patterns started repeating themselves towards my husband and daughter, I stepped in and took a stand.
I chose to be loyal to my husband rather than partake in my extended family’s passive-aggressive patterns.
It was the best thing I’d ever done.
I saved my marriage by taking a stand, and my loyalty has been returned infinitely by my husband.
If you have family members being nasty or passive-aggressive to your partner, you owe this person your loyalty.
They also owe it to you.
Remember, you’re not married to your family, and neither are they.
If you don’t feel like your partner deserves your loyalty, that’s something to think about.
If your partner isn't loyal to you, that's also something you might want to explore.
Division Of Labor
Being part of a team means doing your fair share.
I remember my husband coming home when our daughter was a newborn.
I told him I was too exhausted to clean the kitchen, which was a filthy mess.
He said, “don’t worry, I don’t care if it’s clean.”
He thought that I was apologizing to him for not cleaning it.
I had to tell him that I wasn't asking his forgiveness.
I was telling him I needed him to clean it.
That was a revelation to him, and he’s not the exception.
Over the next few years, he had conversations with male friends who’d said the same thing after having babies.
He had to tell them that their wives weren’t asking permission not to clean.
They were telling them they needed help.
He didn’t even realize the level of his entitlement until I pointed it out to him.
I know of many men in marriages who don’t’ feel like housework is their job.
They still see it as women’s work and something a wife should do - even if she works full-time.
****This also applies if it's the woman who feels entitled.****
Even in this day and age, where both people are supposed to be equal, in many households, one person still carries the full load of housework.
This also goes for childcare, shopping, cooking, and everything else you do daily to keep the wheels of domesticity turning.
To expect one person to do most or all is just unrealistic and a direct route to resentment and anger.
Nobody in a relationship should feel like they can use the other person.
So, no matter which way it goes, you're not a team if one person does all of the housework.
If one person carries a back-breaking share of the load and the other person just sits back and lets them, that’s not fair, and that’s not teamwork.
My husband and I share the housework and then divide up specialized skills.
I do more cooking, although he does a lot of prep when I cook, and he does general maintenance and repair.
Every couple is different.
Some people enjoy certain jobs and don’t mind doing them. It’s all about what works for you to make both people feel valued and validated.
Here's how you know if it's fair:
- If it feels fair to both people and both are happy, then it’s fair
- If it doesn’t feel fair, it’s not
Teamwork is the best way to come together in any relationship.
It’s what gives you comfort and safety.
Many people find love - that's the easy part.
But what makes that love thrive and develop into something deeper, more meaningful, and productive is teamwork.
It takes you from being two lone people in the world with singular resources to being part of something bigger, more substantial, and better.
With good teamwork, any relationship can be truly productive and protective for everyone involved.
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