Teamwork in Marriage

Lately I am recognizing trends of selfishness in many of the couples I work with for marriage counseling.
Selfishness is a common trait in the human personality; every person alive looks out for their best interests in some way. But left unaltered or un-improved upon, selfishness can destroy a relationship. If a mature adult does not learn to replace selfish traits with positive traits of team building, trust, and compassion in a marriage, the relationship will most likely end in frustration, isolation, anger, and sadness. Marriages need love and nurturing to thrive. When one or both partners refuses to un-learn selfish behaviors, there is a weight on the relationship that is hard to bear (for both partners.) Both partners will probably become burdened with feelings of inadequacy and unappreciation.

Selfishness in a relationship breeds negative thoughts such as :
"If only she would do things my way, then I would be so much happier."
"He got into that mess all on his own. Why should I bail him out?"
"I work for all the money, I should be able to tell her exactly how to use my money."
"If he doesn't fix this, then I will make his life miserable until he does what I want him to do."

Notice all the "I's" in those examples?
Not much teamwork going on in those thoughts. . .

Selfish tendencies are overcome through love and work. Love your spouse, and work with your spouse to overcome challenges. Working with each other implies that you listen to one another, understand each other's opinions, and find a solution that benefits the team. Consistently trying to prove who is the most smart, most talented, most trustworthy, or most "right" is not an effective way to operate as a team.
Criticizing and tearing down your spouse in order to win an argument is selfish. 
Those destructive actions seek to boost your pride, and they do not enhance trust nor compassion in the marriage. Teamwork, on the other hand, shows that you value each other's strengths and weaknesses. Teamwork means that the two of you try to be considerate of each other's feelings and aptitudes. Compassion is frequently shown and expressed. Each spouse will build the other up, compliment each other, and seek to make life easier for each other. Instead of thinking how an action will only benefit the "one," a healthy marriage revolves around what's best for the family.

If you have been guilty of selfish behaviors that seek to place you above your spouse, ask them for forgiveness. If you consistently try to prove you are better than, smarter than, or more qualified than your spouse - stop it! Humble your attitude, apologize, and start forming more healthy habits of teamwork.

Here are some suggestions for improving teamwork in marriage:

1. Track budgets and expenses together. Each spouse needs to agree with financial goals.
2. Talk about each other's interests and goals in order to better understand his/her motivating behaviors.
3. Allow each other to make mistakes. Be quick to forgive.
4. Frequently talk about the needs and schedules of family members.
5. Discuss how each spouse can help manage the home.
6. Don't expect your spouse to always do things the way you do them. (You didn't marry yourself.)

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