A Marriage Mindset

One of the most common themes that I’ve heard over the years when working with couples on their marriage is:

“I feel like we’re just roommates.”

Have you ever said that? 
 Do you feel that way now?

Another couple described it this way: “We are like two ships passing in the night”.

This type of marriage is simply existing. Let me put it this way, instead of two ships passing in the night, they are two ships lost and drifting at sea.

This brings up the question: What does a marriage do to move from roommates to teammates?

Like most things, it’s easier said than done. So let’s start with the “easier said” part and then finish with the practical ways to get it done.

BIG IDEA: Think like a team.

By the time I see most couples who are at a place of impasse, the last thing they feel like they are is a “team”. This is because the enemy has capitalized on a place of tension in the relationship and has been working on dividing and conquering them.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” John 10:10 NLT

Think about it. The enemy of our souls understands that the more we are on the same page as a team, the greater good we can do for one another and most importantly the Kingdom of God. Satan doesn’t want that to happen.

If you are married and you are reading this right now. Please understand that the enemy of your soul is hell bent on stealing any type of “team” dynamics of your marriage. If he can’t kill your marriage, he will do everything he can to destroy your marriage. Why? Because he knows that the team that God has joined together can do incredible things.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 NLT

Our enemy knows this passage and I imagine he’s twisted it, like he does with everything, and I imagine it would read something like this:

One person is better off than two, for they succeed on their own. If they fall, they will blame the other person.

Don’t believe this is true? Look at this passage:

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NLT

That’s it! That’s his plan…do you see it? The key word is “someone” not a “team” to devour. He is waiting. Waiting for spouses to separate from each other. To be alone, like roommates, like ships passing in the night.

So what do we do? How do we think more like a team? Well, like most successful teams, we must behave differently. Here are some quick tools that will help us move from being roommates to healthy, life-giving roommates.

1. Practice Communication

Teams don’t just show up ready to play on “game day”. They study their opponent. They also spend most of their time practicing the fundamentals.

Marriages are no different. Taking at least one time a week to work on the fundamentals of a marriage is critical to seeing success on “game day”.

I think any marriage that is wanting to move from being roommates to teammates should meet once a week for practice. Practicing the fundamentals of communication. Since poor communication still ranks as the #1 reason for divorce, we must get better.

Things to practice: 
 -Eye contact
 -Phone absence
 -Genuine compliments
 -Listening attentively
 -Ask for what you want
 -Focus on the good qualities in each other
 -Being vulnerable

Simply practicing these each week will definitely unite you as teammates.

2. Protect Each Other

Like any great team, when one person on the team is hurting, injured, tired or needing help, the other teammates move in to help. If more marriages responded with this same behavior, we’d see more successful marriages. Unfortunately, we are often too busy to slow down to see if our teammate is hurting, injured, tired or needing help. What if we simply ask our teammate this question: What do you need from me at this season of your life?

3. Plan Ahead

In order for teams to be prepared for the next game, they take time to plan. In addition to weekly practices, successful teams are looking down the road at what is on the horizon. Taking the vision of the team and aligning it with the future is the key to any team’s success.

Marriages that take a weekend to focus on a plan for their life can see incredible focus and success as a team as well. Often I ask my couples what I call the 50-year question. It’s a great question to start the planning part of your lives. It goes something like this:

It’s the day after your 50-year wedding anniversary and you are walking on the beach and reflecting on your life. Your spouse then says… “Well, we didn’t do everything right, but at least we…”

How would you fill in that sentence? In other words, what will your “team” be known for on your 50-year anniversary? From those answers you hit rewind back to today and then ask yourself another question. How are we living this out now so that those are the stories said about us then?

4. Posture Yourself

Teammates, at least successful ones, remain in a posture of learning.

A team that realizes that they do not know everything there is to know about the business or sport they are in forces them into a great posture, a posture of learning.

If more marriages would do the same, we’d have stronger marriages. Taking a posture of learning about how to be a better husband or wife will literally change the outcome of the family. Whether it’s going to counseling or reading a book on how to be a better spouse, maybe listening to a podcast on marriage or reading a book together, the key is that you must never stop learning how to be a teammate in a marriage.

5. Pray For Each Other

There is something about a football game or basketball game when the camera moves to the players all in a circle with arms draped around each other’s shoulders in prayer. It’s pretty special.

I recently heard a staggering statistic that said less than 1% of all couples who pray together every day get divorced. THAT IS HUGE! Cue the corny bumper sticker makers, it must be true that: “Marriages that pray together stay together”.

So come on everyone! Let’s move from being roommates and start being the teammates that God put together on our wedding day. We have so much winning to experience together through Christ.