I have been reading a book titled Team Us by Ashleigh Slater and I just recently shared my review with you, which you can read HERE! I have a special article for you from the author! Ashleigh desired to share with you 5 strategies that will help you thrive in your marriage.
Last summer I tried to convince my husband Ted that we should apply for the TV show The Amazing Race. In my mind, it would’ve been the ultimate marriage retreat: world travel, dedicated time away together, and an array of team-building “activities.” A jackpot of shared experiences as a couple.
Ted didn’t exactly rejoice at the idea. He didn’t even laugh at the suggestion. Nope. I can still see his face now. There was fear. Lots and lots of fear.
Mostly because he knew I was dead serious. And, on the slight chance we were actually cast, he knew I’d be counting on his chivalry to rescue me if faced with any feat of outlandish heights or if called on to eat haggis. The heights, he could have probably dealt with. Sheep intestine, not so much.
Looking back, it’s good Ted didn’t encourage me. If cast, I’d most likely have gotten us lost – being the horrible navigator of American streets and cities that I am – and, as a result, in a fight in some foreign country somewhere on national television.
While Ted and I may never be teammates on the show, I love what The Amazing Race reminds me of when it comes to our marriage. I find that most of the couples who win – whether husband and wife, father and son, or best friends – are for each other. They work together in order to succeed. And I believe that’s vital to my marriage and to yours.
You see, one of the reasons Ted and I got married was because we believed God could use the joining of our lives in a unique way for His glory; that we’d be better together. That’s more likely to be our reality if we are united, determined to do what it takes to face life and its challenges side-by-side, rather than back-to-back.
So what are some winning strategies that can help us – as well as you and your spouse – accomplish this as a couple? Here are five that I have found useful. You may find them helpful too.
- Assume the Best
It’s not always easy to assume the best when Ted does something I don’t understand or even like. But Scripture encourages me to do just that. 1 Corinthians 13 says that love “is ever ready to believe the best of every person” (AMP). Ted and I have found that our team is stronger when we choose to assume the best – not the worst – of each other’s motives and actions.
- Focus on Progress, Not Perfection
In my book Team Us: Marriage Together, I share that when it comes to Ted, I have “determined not to focus on his failings, rather on his successes.” Instead of fixating on where Ted still needs growth, I focus on how much he’s grown in the last week, month, or year. Doing this helps me cheer on his successes, rather than be discontent that he hasn’t yet met my ideals in a particular area. He does the same for me.
- Pick Our Battles
We’ve found that sometimes the bothersome things, such as old habits or annoying quirks that can easily cause conflict if we aren’t careful, simply aren’t worth the battle. Sin means to “miss the mark.” So before I address a behavior or attitude with Ted, I’ve learned to stop and ask myself, “Is this Ted missing God’s mark? Or is he just missing mine?” If it’s simply me being annoyed and not something that’s destructive to him or our relationship, I do my best to overlook it. Picking our battles helps reserve conflict for the times it is necessary.
- Give in on the Small Stuff
In addition to picking our battles, we also give in on the small stuff. We call it our 49 percent/51 percent rule. Essentially is means neither of us is unwilling to defer to the other’s preferences. For example, say we’re going out to dinner somewhere. Ted wants sushi. I want Mexican. But my craving for enchiladas seems stronger than his want for spicy tuna rolls. Instead of fighting for raw fish and seaweed, Ted agrees to chips and salsa because what we eat is more important at this time to me than it is to him.
- Be a “Team-First” Fighter
Sometimes we can avoid conflict by assuming the best, focusing on progress, picking our battles, and giving in on the small stuff. But there are times we need to hash things outs. I’ve learned it’s not about whether Ted and I will fight as a couple – because we will – but how we fight. We attempt to work through conflict in way that serves to unite us and benefit the long-term health of our marriage. One way we do this is by being “team-first” fighters. A team-first fighter adopts an other-first approach, which I talk more about in chapter 4 of Team Us.
The truth is, I haven’t completely given up the idea of ever applying for The Amazing Race. I’ve just realized that if I ever do, I’ll need to talk one of my three sisters into being my world-traveling buddy.
In the meantime though, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any winning team strategies that have worked well in your marriage?
Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together. As the founder and editor of Ungrind Webzine and a regular contributor at several popular blogs and websites, she loves to combine the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. To learn more, visit AshleighSlater.com. You can also find her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ashleighslaterauthor), Twitter (https://twitter.com/ashslater), and Instagram (http://instagram.com/slater.ashleigh).