Relationship Friendship — 02 December 2011
What is true teamwork in marriage?

When people talk about teamwork in marriage they often refer to a mutually agreed upon and fair role division of household tasks, childcare and decision making process. Though these functions are part of the definition of teamwork, they do not include some essential elements of a “true” teamwork that include the emotional, devoted and ‘other centered’ focus within a love union.

Teamwork is essential for combining various talents, skills and bodies of knowledge in attaining a common goal. Even in business, teamwork is lauded as the superior method of getting the work done. Christopher Avery, author of “Teamwork Is an Individual Skill: Getting Your Work Done When Sharing Responsibility” advises focusing on one’s personal mission. “By working with the conscious intention that comes from determining and knowing your purpose in life, you’ll integrate all of your actions and attract people who will help you achieve your purpose and who are served by it.”

If using one’s philosophical core is a wise guideline in business, how much more appropriate it is to do so in your primary love relationship. In a marital union, teamwork is an absolute necessity to achieve the common goals through harmonious means.

Three essential elements of true teamwork in marriage require each partner to: 1. Focus on the partner’s needs in managing every task; 2. Accept that your spouse’s issues are your issues as well; and 3. Stay dedicated in the face of adversity.

  •  True marital teamwork is not a task-oriented mission, but a mate-centered orientation. Creating an equal partnership takes into consideration the mate’s ease and difficulty with any mutual undertaking and complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If your partner tends to be stressed by excessive noise or disorderliness in the home, it is incumbent upon you to facilitate your mate’s comfort respectfully, without judgment or disgruntlement
  • Any issue that your mate faces at work, with friends, family or with him/herself is a couple’s concern. True partnership requires that you listen, support and, if needed advise your mate about resolving the issues to his/her satisfaction.
  • “For better or worse” means not leaving or withdrawing when the chips are down. Whether the change is financial, emotional, health related, interpersonal, familial, spiritual or psychological, you maintain your caring place beside your mate for the duration of the crisis.

True teamwork in marriage has its own mind-frame and considerate language.

  • Request task assistance by saying: “I would really appreciate your assistance with greater physical orderliness in our home. Would you please clear your own dishes after you use them?” Remember to thank you mate for his/her compliance with your request.
  • Replace, “You really need to get a job soon,” with “How can I help you with your job search?”
  • Substitute silent withdrawal and simmering frustration with “Let’s figure out how we can help your aging parents and also make some time for us as well.”

True marital teamwork is rewarding and enriching for life.










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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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