Every year on Super Bowl Sunday, both hard-working teams hope to carry the trophy home to their city. And they’ll do everything they can to win the game.
As in any sport, there will be plays and penalties that the other team thinks are unfair or just plain wrong. From holding and pass interference to offsides or encroachment, the teams can argue all they want. But the referee makes the final call.
How many times have you disagreed with your spouse and longed for a referee to decide who is right or wrong? When two people come together in marriage with their own ideas about the rules, it affects everything. It’s how bills stack up on the counter and don’t get paid, toilets stay dirty and laundry sits in the hamper. The reason? Each person assumes it is the other person’s job. When things go wrong, penalty flags fly and tempers often flare because both parties believe they are right. After all, that’s how it worked in their childhood home.
It’s funny how nobody enters into marriage talking about being on opposing teams. In fact, if you ask engaged couples about potential areas of conflict, they typically respond, “We can’t think of anything! But, if we do encounter something we are sure we can work through it.”
Then it happens. He commits a personal foul when he leaves his socks on the floor. She commits an illegal procedure when she buys something expensive without discussing it first. In moments like these, partners see each other as adversaries instead of teammates. What happens now?
A personal referee could be really helpful, but that’s not reality. So here are some tips for bringing home the big prize for your relationship:
- Even when you feel like an infraction has occurred, remember you are on the same team.
- Whether you are preparing for marriage or already married, using the same playbook really helps. But people often enter relationships with different ones. Each playbook is filled with many unspoken expectations and rules. Unfortunately, when you don’t know what the rules are, there are penalties. You may not even have no clue what you did wrong. Topics that usually create issues include: how you think about money, whether or not to have children, how to engage the in-laws, career goals, sex, friendships, and how to care for and build each other up – both individually and as a team.
- A winning team never forgets – learning and perfecting the fundamentals is important. In healthy relationships, the basics include healthy communication, effective conflict management and clear expectations.
- Finally, a team who is set on winning will stop at nothing in order to prepare for the win. They don’t hesitate to seek help in trouble spots because they want to take home the trophy. A winning marriage is no different.
Teams that make it to the Super Bowl don’t get there by chance. They spend hours learning the plays, and they experience wins and painful losses together. The teams face challenges with other players, deal with personal injuries and more. Ultimately, they always remember they are teammates who share vision to make it into the end zone.
That’s also the key to having a winning marriage.
This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on February 5, 2017.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***