Every marriage should have a good balance of partnership and friendship. It is difficult and there are many couples who fail at it every day, but it is possible.
Marriage is the only relationship where we should have both partnership and friendship. Ordinarily, in any other relationship, it is considered unwise to mix the two. A business partnership that starts from friendship will usually hurt the friendship and a partnership that develops into friendship can hurt the partnership. Unless everyone understands the difference and they are able to balance the two properly.
The trouble is, a lot of couples are not even aware there is a difference between their marriage partnership and marriage friendship. So instead of finding balance they are constantly confusing the two and becoming discouraged and frustrated.
Marriage friendship is based on unique similarities. The more a couple share in common the greater the level of friendship. And as a couple grows in the common interest they grow on a friendship level. (For more on growing your marriage on a friendship level check out our last post, How do You Build a Great Friendship with Your Spouse.
But a good partnership in marriage is when a couple understands their differences and blends together their unique differences. It is where different strengths are brought together to compensate and complement different weaknesses. It is where opposites attract because we see something in each other we admire that is missing in us.
Also, partnership in our marriage is the area where we have the most friction and conflict. Because we tend to lose sight of how important our differences are and we become frustrated and intolerant of each other’s differences.
Our marriage partnership works best when we think of ourselves as a team. And the name of our team is “Our Marriage,” it’s not our money, our house, our careers, or our children. Although all of the things I just mentioned are important in our daily lives at the end of the day our marriage has to be about “Our Marriage.”
And as with any team we tend to gel together with our unique chemistry and as long as everything is going well for us we think our team is unbeatable. But when the stresses of life come at us and our team begins to struggle we tend to start turning on each other. And before you know it we are not thinking about our team, “Our Marriage,” we are thinking about ourselves, and our focus becomes me versus my spouse type of thinking.
For most of my life, I have been a sports fan and there is one thing I have learned about teamwork that shows up in sports, in business, and in a marriage. When team members do their own jobs and focus on doing their part for the good of the team there is a much better flow to their work and they get much better results. But when team members start focusing on themselves and become critical of how their teammates are doing their jobs then the whole team begins to struggle and failure of some sort is inevitable.
To build a better partnership in your marriage you can start with these 4 steps.
Pray: Pray with the understanding, it’s not me it’s we. Pray that you will be the best partner you can be. Pray for your spouse and their specific needs to do their job well. Pray together so that you learn each other’s hearts and you build better chemistry as the two of you recognize you both are dependent on the Lord’s help.
Talk: Take some time to talk to each other about your differences. Be open and honest about the way you think and feel differently. Talk to each other about the way you both benefit your marriage in your own unique way.
Study: Find some good resources that can help you learn more about your unique differences. Learn more about how men and women are typically different from each other apart from the obvious physical difference. Learn about your personality differences, your love language differences, your communication style differences, and even how you and your spouse worship the Lord differently.
Be humble: Finally, don’t take your differences personally. You both were either created by God with these differences, or you developed these differences from your separate backgrounds and personal history. So give your spouse your permission to be different from you and embrace their differences with open arms.
“Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”