A few weeks ago Kristen and I walked through a significant challenge with one of our boys. A problem presented itself and Kristen and I needed to decide if we were going to work together or against each other as we sought to lead, love and care for our child. The issue challenged our marriage and our parenting in a new way as we faced some dilemmas we didn’t know how to walk through as parents. Parenting can lead to some of the most gut-wrenching, difficult moments in life since we love our children so much.
The details don’t matter, but what does matter is that we worked together as a team through the challenge.
When you and your spouse face a parenting or marriage obstacle, do you work as opponents or as teammates? I’ll be the first to admit we don’t always make the right choice, but I do know how much better things go when we work together. My marriage ministry teammates and I recently read the book Team Us by Ashleigh Slater. One of the main messages of the book revolves around the idea that we need to work together as a team: Team Us. Most of us grow up thinking only of ourselves, yet marriage calls us to transition from “me” to “team us.”
Genesis 2:24 says, “A man shall leave his father and mother, be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
When we work together as a team, we choose to live out God’s design of marriage by serving, leading and loving others as one flesh.
Easier said than done.
We don’t see things the same way and our personalities cause us to respond in different ways to any situation. Kristen loves to keep things, I want to throw things away. She likes things to be clean, and I like things to be neat. We drive each other nuts at times. Our background, temperament, and level of spiritual intimacy (among many other factors) can affect the way we choose to either work together or against each other.
One of the best lessons I have learned in marriage is that as a one flesh relationship with Kristen, when she wins, I win. When she loses, I lose. In other words, even if I ‘win’ an argument, I still lose and we lose because the goal is not wins v. losses. The goal is oneness, living out God’s design as one flesh.
Do you and your spouse operate as teammates or opponents? Your Spouse is a Much Better Teammate than Opponent.
If you and your spouse do not operate as a team, ask yourselves the following questions:
- Who’s more important? You or your spouse? (Read Philippians 2:3-4)
- Is the goal to “win” the discussion or is it mutual understanding? (Read Proverbs 18:2)
- Do you like how things are working in your marriage and parenting? Our pastor, Todd Wagner, often says, “If you like what you got, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you don’t like what you’ve got and you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re not going to like what you got.” If not, then you better find a new way.
- Are you open to the input and counsel of others? (Read Proverbs 15:22). When we struggle we know we need to widen the circle and invite others in to help us resolve our challenges and help us better operate as a team.
Whether you work well together or not, here are a few suggestions on how to be better a teammate:
- Make sure you listen well (James 1:19 – Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry).
- Seek to understand (Proverbs 18:2 – A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion).
- Keep short accounts and do not carry a grudge or burden against the other person (Ephesians 4:26 – Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger).
- Watch your words and your tone. Don’t believe the lie that “words can never hurt.” (Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.) If you disagree, read James 3.
Wherever you land, I hope you see the value of working as a team. Work, parenting, marriage and the rest of life can be exhausting. I hope your marriage is a safe place for you to work together with your spouse. God designed it this way, He loves you and His design is worthy of your trust. Now go Play Ball!
For the Family,
Scott Kedersha, scottkedersha.com