What is a team and what is teamwork? In short, it is a group of people who work together to accomplish a common goal. It is a system where each plays a part, and as a whole, fills a purpose.
What is expected from a team-member? Reliability is probably at the front of the line. If each person on a team is expected to fill a specific role, then, effectively, that team is relying on that person to show up and deliver.
Related: What Does Love Really Mean?
What happens when someone doesn’t do what is expected? The others in the team must take up the slack and work harder.
Consider a relationship, and by that, I mean, any relationship, is made up of at least two people. Both people in that relationship are expected to fill a role. If one doesn’t, the other must try to fill both roles. This is the same as a team.
If two people unite together to accomplish a goal, then, it will take both to succeed. Marriage is a great example of where teamwork is necessary. If one comes up short and unreliable, the other must try to take up that slack. This is where many relationships fail.
They don’t fail because one takes the slack of the other temporarily; but rather, on a continuous basis.
Hey, if a teammate is sick for one day, it is acceptable and forgivable. Everyone generally pitches in to make it work. However, if that teammate is continually sick and becomes unreliable, he or she is likely to be replaced.
Likewise, if we think that our spouse will just keep taking up our slack for the long-term, we should be aware that we might get replaced. Or, at minimum, our spouse will likely burn out.
In what ways can we improve our game through teamwork?
I have been married for many years now and have learned some important strategies that are effective in my marriage. Although each marriage and relationship will be unique, I believe that these strategies will be just as effective for other relationships too. I see this as important because there are just too many failed relationships out there that could’ve survived with some teamwork and effort.
Practicing teamwork and being a team player means that we must understand our position, or, our role, we must understand the rules, and, we must learn how to become most efficient as a teammate.
Here are six ways we can be a team player and bring our relationships to victory:
- Be reliable
- Be supportive
- Don’t be self-focused
- Be dedicated
- Be protective
- Don’t be the score-keeper
1. Teamwork requires reliability
As previously mentioned, reliability is a very necessary element of teamwork. When the teammates can rely on each other, confidence is boosted, they become stronger, and progress is enhanced.
In our relationships, we can do the same. We can be reliable in how we behave, how we manage our emotions, how we do what we say we will do, and by the effort that we bring to the game.
We can create an environment where our spouse, or partner, can rely on us to deliver what we say we will. This is often done over time, and, through many varying situations. If we are stable in our actions and emotions, the other will be able to count on us when needed.
To give an idea of un-reliability in a relationship; consider someone who only sometimes comes home right after work, sometimes is missing-in-action, sometimes drinks too much and becomes unpredictable, sometimes is encouraging and other times bordering on abusiveness.
We don’t want to marry into a circus where we are constantly surprised by each upcoming act. Instead, we want to know what to expect, and enjoy that stability as we work to build our ideal family.
2. Be supportive of the team
In relationships, we expect our partner to be supportive of us. I don’t necessarily mean financially supportive, but more importantly, emotionally supportive.
If we look at sports teams, they have cheer leaders who shout out encouraging words about their team in support of them, whether they are winning or losing.
We can be supportive of our spouses in the same way. Whether they are at the top of their game at work or at home, or, even if they are struggling or failing in some way, we must be there for them. We must cheer them on and help lift their spirits.
We must not focus on what they did wrong, but rather, help them to find a solution and move on.
3. Don’t be self-focused
We have all heard the term, “there is no “I” in team”. It’s the same in our relationships. It is a unity of two. It is a team. If one falls, the other must be there to catch them.
If we are only concerned of ourselves, it won’t be long before our partner let’s us know. By then, it might be too late. People can only tolerate so much before they don’t want to participate anymore. Narcissism and conceitedness are sure-fire ways to get someone to want to change scenes.
Instead, teamwork means focusing on the other members in the team. It means that we must be constantly trying to line our teammate (our partner) up for the ultimate play (success).
It is very possible for us to get consumed with our own circumstances and lose focus on those around us. If we are able to combat this as soon as possible and get our focus onto “we” instead of “me”, then we are more likely to have someone their to help support us as we need it.
4. Be a dedicated player
When a sports team prepares for a game, they head out onto the field, or ice, expecting to go the full game. At no point in the game do they all say, “well this isn’t going well for us; let’s quit”. Instead, they keep fighting and trying until the game is over.
In relationships, we must be just as dedicated. What is absolute and for sure, is, there will be tough times. There will be difficulties and there will be times that we will feel like quitting is the best option.
We need to be aware that even in sports games where all odds are stacked, there have been some amazing comebacks leading to victory.
How many marriages have ended in divorce because of small annoyances, including poor housekeeping?
How many marriages have been victorious and long-lasting in spite of huge mistakes, including infidelity?
Again, it comes down to dedication. How bad do you want it? Is your team (spouse or partner) worth standing beside even when they aren’t perfect? Is your team (spouse or partner) worth being there for even when it seems like there is no hope?
We can train like athletes do so that we can have the endurance that athletes have. Teammates in sports teams realize that there is a chance that they might get defeated. So, they train for those times. When the time does come, it doesn’t dissolve the team. They know that they did their best, and there will be more victories and more losses to come.
We must do the same in our relationships if we want them to last. Understand that hardships will come, but so will good times. We must train together and try to prepare ourselves for the hardships and not let them tear us apart.
5. Be protective of your teammate
I have watched numerous hockey games where an opposing player enters into a goalie’s crease and is instantly met by the defense team. The defense team gets in there right away to protect their goal-tender. There are no exceptions.
In our relationships, we must do the same. This isn’t just standing up for our spouse when their safety is at risk by another, but also, we must be protective of the relationship itself.
Acts of infidelity happen for several reasons. In most cases, one is not happy in the relationship, while the other is sometimes unassuming. A common example is when there is a major lack of communication.
One partner, or spouse, might be feeling unappreciated, or neglected, and the other somehow doesn’t realize the severity of the situation. Instead of talking it out with each other, the neglected might talk it out with someone else.
If this “someone else” fills a neglected need, it is possible that sparks might fly, and one thing can lead to another.
In another situation, all might seem harmless as some couples maintain opposite-sex friendships. I think this is playing with fire.
This is where the protective nature needs to come in. This is where the guards need to come up and prevent another team from scoring in your zone.
Just as dangerous to a relationship, is, when one partner gets caught up in substance abuse of some sort. It is necessary to be protective of your partner and help them get help sooner than later.
Substance abuse will tear through a healthy relationship in no-time flat. We don’t need to sit by and see if we can defy the odds. Instead, if this is a problem, help them where you can, and don’t add to the situation. This means, if spouse is struggling with drinking, don’t keep drinking while they try to get sober.
6. Don’t be the score-keeper
In sports games, keeping score is very important. It is the point of the game. In relationships, we must not keep score. It is not helpful in a relationship.
What I mean is, sometimes, we start keeping track of all the wrongs the other does. This leads to us eventually bringing it up at some point.
In a healthy relationship, we must be aware and accepting that the other will make mistakes at times. Just as we don’t want them to tally up our scores for all our mistakes, the other doesn’t want it either.
This is where we need to practice grace and forgiveness and move on. We must rise-up in love and let them off the hook for what they did.
This way, they don’t need to spend their life being reminded of their short-comings and won’t be left feeling like they are less-important or not-as-good.
Regardless of what analogies we use, our relationships matter. They do require teamwork and they do require constant effort and attention from both in the relationship. We can’t put the whole load on the other and expect the relationship to just work out.
We must show up and do our part; consistently and reliably. Each in the relationship are an important part of the team. So, do what you can to bring your relationships to the next level. Discuss the six strategies in this article with your relationship teammate, and work together to build the best team you can today.
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How to get your spouse to hear you, by Mort Fertel.