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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Marriage Team

Every successful organization has its own 'spirit' or personality, be it a military unit, a company, or a college. The team is what forms its members, and the personality becomes tradition.

Why not do this with your marriage?

We usually approach marriage as the sometimes uneasy alliance of two individuals, 'looking into the same future'.

It's not bad, and works well much of the time, but can we do better? Can we give our marriages their own identity, so that the partnership defines us, rather than the other way around?

It is Scriptural; the model of Christ as the Bridegroom needs no introduction here, and it's our relationship with Him that defines who we are in this life.

And since marriage is a sacrament...why not? Why not become part of something bigger than we are - part of a team, not only in words but in spirit?

What defines a successful team?

Sense of Purpose - any organization has to have a sense of its mission, and the worth of 'what it does; in the world.

When most couples are asked why they married, the stock answer is "we were in love". Yes, very true, but that's only part of it. Love grows out of mutual attraction, and that includes shared values.

How did you exercise those values. whether they were to help the less-fortunate, rescue stray dogs, or spread the Gospel?

The purpose doesn't have to be completely altruistic - a shared appreciation for and interest in nature, music or art can work just as well - and it's not a 'lesser thing', because appreciating God's world is a delight to Him.

Maybe it's time to revisit the 'why' that came at the beginning of your relationship, and rededicate yourself?

Sense of Identity - the glue that holds any team together is the sense of belonging held by each individual member. "I'm part of this" is both a declaration of unity and a declaration of submission; unity with a larger calling, and submission of individuality in acting as a member.

This shouldn't be too hard for Christians - we're 'the body of Christ', remember?

"Of course I identify with my marriage!"

I hope so; but are there times that you complain about it to others (excluding bona fide counselors)? Are there times you make disparaging remarks about marriage in general or yours in particular to a friend, or worse, a group of acquaintances?

Identity grows through loyalty, and that loyalty has to be committed. It's not something to poke fun at, or to set aside when you're bored or irritated.

Tradition - organiozations have a personality defined in part by their history - so it's important to document yours.

Yes, guys, that means scrapbooking. Yes, you have to participate.

But there's more. There's also documenting what you've done. Taking time to write down and save memories of the important things.

A computer works for this, but a 'day book' is even better - a journal kept in a prominent place, where you and your spouse write down what's important in your lives. Or what's striking. Or what's funny.

Writing things out in longhand saves something - immediacy and personality. We choose words differently when we write them, and part of our heart flows through the pen.

Trust - finally, any successful organization has to engender trust - not only in one's teammates, but in the organization and its principles.

We have to trust the institution of marriage, and our marriage.

Part of this resisting the temptation to look back to the single life; the grass may look greener in the field we left, but (a) we crossed that fence and the point is moot; and (b) we think of hindsight as being 20/20, but it's not...we forget the bad stuff quickly.

If we have divorced friends - and we should never shun those who experience divorce - we do have to filter their bitterness if it's unleashed in our hearing. Their lives were their lives, and are not ours to judge - but they are not our lives, nor are they a template. Their lives are just what happened to them.

And we must trust the person we married, to carry their part of the log, so to speak. We have to be willing to put the 'big stuff' in life into their hands, and never reach back for it again.

'Big stuff' - like our hearts.

What do you think? How do you foster 'team spirit' in your marriage?

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information.

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