Why is it that often in our marriages we seem more like competitors than team mates? “Yes, I know you mowed the grass, but I did the dishes, cleaned out the garage, and washed three loads of laundry!” Or maybe you don’t say anything at all but there is an undercurrent of resentment when you take on a task that you think your spouse should be doing instead.
Does Your Marriage Feel Like a Boxing Match?
I think the reason we often have so much competition in our marriages is because we bring a lot of baggage with us after we slip on that ring. This baggage stays hidden away and only surfaces when we feel a little jab from our partner. These feelings and emotions mostly come from our past. They are spiritual and emotions wounds inflicted upon us by the actions of others or action of our own. If they are not dealt with, they can keep us trapped in the boxing ring and forbid us from fully trusting our spouses.
It takes two to tango
Have you ever heard that phrase? It means that there are two sides to every argument and both sides are responsible in their own way. But what should that have to do with tension within a marriage.
From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh, so they are no longer two but one flesh, what therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. Matthew 10:6-9 NASV
The two shall become one! So two can tango or argue, but one should be in agreement with itself. If we went into marriage acting as one instead of two then maybe the competition would cease and the match would be over.
Becoming One instead of two
Marriage relationships should mirror our relationship with God.
Jesus prayed for us that we would be one with the Father just like He was one with the Father.
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one- as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:21-22
When we give up our old lives in exchange for the life that Jesus died for us to have, we are made new. Scripture even says the old is gone and the new has come. We, however, don’t walk in the fullness of who we are in Christ because we like to hang on to pieces of our past. It is the same in marriage if we do not fully trust one another and become one flesh, then there is a part of us always fighting to see who is the going to win the round or come out on top.
We focus on self-survival and not unity.
Our marriage gets marred by competition, our feelings are worn on our sleeves, and we become defensive. Before you know it couples will begin looking at the worst in one another instead of the best.
Becoming one is not something that happens overnight. It also doesn’t just occur because you exchange rings and vows with the one that you love. Just like our walk with Christ is paved with the daily sacrificing of our own wills, so the same is required in marriage.
Why is there so much competition?
The bible says that husbands and wives are supposed to submit to one another, to love one another, to honor one another.
It took me two marriages to figure this out. The first time around I went into marriage not trusting. Somewhere along the road I adopted the attitude that I could not be hurt and I didn’t really need anyone. If you don’t need me, then I don’t need you. I have always been a good problem solver and can think on my feet. When i felt alone in a problem my attitude would be “Fine I will do it myself!” Not only would I accomplish what I wanted, but I would make sure I did it so well that I could rub it in the other persons face. As if to say “See, I don’t need you”..
Maybe that was from being the youngest in a large family and having determination to prove myself or maybe it came from being hurt through young crushes and romances. This kind of thinking, however, leads to mistrust, insecurity, and comparisons which are certainly not ingredients to help two becoming one. I have had to learn to bend, to not take things personally, to not assume I was being judged, and not to judge my spouse by my own standards.
marriage is not Competition.
God created man and wife to be a team. Woman was fashioned by God to be a “Help Meet” There are different ways that this term is defined. I especially like this one that I found online by Jeff A. Benner, Ancient Hebrew Research Center. (I am not endorsing this site because i am not that familiar with it, however, I found this article very informative). The way he interprets this phrase in Hebrew is a helper, standing face to face, as his opposite.
I have always said that God takes a little bit of Himself and places it into each person. We are all a different mixtures of our Creator, our own unique recipe! God made Adam and Eve opposite from one another so that they would come to depend on each other and that together the two would make one. Each person has their own unique gifts to bring to the table. Those gifts need to be celebrated not compared.
We need to abandon the world’s skewed views that we see in media about marriage, relationships, and gender traits. We do not belong in the world’s box but rather get to be and view ourselves and our spouses by what God says about us in His Word.
Marriage is Teamwork
Good teammates look for one another’s strengths. They also encourage and support one another in their weaknesses. Before a game, good teammates know what the goal is and they work together to achieve this purpose. They act as one! What if our marriages looked and acted this way? Is it possible for couples to stand face to face and encourage one another to use their gifts and talents? Can we celebrate one another’s victories knowing that every win is for the good of our team? Could we share responsibility for our defeats and work as one to make a new plan?
I think so! And the secret is simple! It is the very thing that brought you and your mate together in the first place.
Love is The Thing That ends the fight
Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hoes all things and endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
When we truly learn to love the way that Jesus instructs us to, then our marriages and our lives will be transformed.
Here are some things we can do to practice!
- Think of the good stuff (remember why you fell in love in the first place).
- Focus on one another’s strengths and not weaknesses.
- Offer to help in areas you are strong without making your partner feel guilty.
- Be patient, not rude, and remember to forgive (that’s all part of loving!).
- Think of yourself as one! That way you are not just looking out for yourself but doing what is best for everyone.
- Let go of ways you were hurt in the past (even if it was by your spouse).
- Be honest and share your feelings in a way that focuses on your weaknesses and not your spouses.
- Get into the practice of building one another up
- Pray often together and for each other.
IT Takes Time
Don’t get discouraged. Becoming one takes time and even then there will be times when you will get on each other’s nerves. I know sometimes I get on my own nerves, how about you.
Just remember that you are a team. The more you can agree to communicate and share without getting your feelings or pride hurt, the better off you will be. All of this applies to both husbands and wives. The Bible is very clear that couples are to submit to and love one another.
It takes two to tango. It takes three to become one; you, your spouse, and Jesus.