Commandment 2: Make Sure You Are A Team With Your Partner

“Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.”
-Henry Ford

Consider that every sports championship ever won has happened because of some type of team effort. Even what we would consider ‘solo’ athletes have teams: a race car driver will have a pit crew and a golfer has their caddy giving them advice.

The same applies for non-sports situations as well. Bridges are not built by one person. The president does not win an election without his vice-president as well as an entire crew behind them working tirelessly. In the corporate world, rarely anything is done without input from a team member; whether it is a weekly meeting for the marketing team to discuss strategy and how their individual efforts will come together to form a new campaign or the CEO and other executives planning the overall direction of the company.

Rarely will you find any situation in life where a good teammate will not help you to surpass what you could have accomplished on your own. Even this website is the culmination of months of effort, inspecting and working on both the largest and tiniest details between two teammates.

So is it any surprise that the ultimate joining of two partners, a loving relationship, requires such an emphasis on teamwork? What is a relationship besides two people joining together to work towards common goals for a happy life? For most people, biologically speaking, we as humans are chemically driven to join up with someone else to continue the advancement of our species. Therefore, you might as well start going all in and keeping in mind that no matter what you do, the ultimate goal is always a happy outcome for both you and your partner.

What happens when there is no teamwork between partners

Recently, I heard a story from a married woman that saddened me. For years, this woman and her husband had hoped to attend a certain special event near where they live that happens only one day each year. Finally, they planned to do it this most recent year.

However, she came down with an awful sickness a few days before the event and was physically unable to go. The husband was very annoyed by this and acted like a jerk to her all day over it.

Even worse, only a few weeks later, he came down with a terrible sickness as well and she “got him back” by treating him poorly those few days to teach him a lesson.

Now I’m simply assuming that this is probably not an isolated incident for them. Still, there is a happy ending as he realized what he did wrong and apologized and they are a mostly happy couple. Yet, I can’t help but feel that there is simply no need to act this way. How much better off would both of them be if they were working as a team from the start?

Still, I can understand this situation

Before Laura, I would act this same way in my relationships. I would put myself rather than the team first, and get upset when the other person impeded my own happiness. Now, those relationships weren’t meant to be anyway, but it is still a selfish thing to do regardless of circumstance.

I mean, isn’t it really just like the ball-hog who shoots and misses near the buzzer rather than passing to his wide open teammate? Isn’t it always the case that we ostracize the players who are selfish and look for their own personal glory?

Start thinking that you and your partner have a championship to win together

If you were on a basketball team and one of your teammates got sick, but was still making an effort to play and help as much as possible, would you be angry with them? Would you make excuses and most likely lose? Or would you take more responsibility on yourself and try to help your teammate out as much as possible?

Winners don’t make excuses; they try harder.The reality is this: Just like good times, shit also happens in life. Shit will always happen and it will affect you the most at the worst possible times. That’s just how it works. And there is never, ever a time at which your circumstances will change for the better by being negative, making excuses, or acting immature and upset. The only way to a positive outcome is by accepting what happens and putting even more effort in. Winners don’t make excuses; they try harder.

If you think about your life with a partner as being on a team together with a championship on the line, then you’ll find yourself winning at the game of life.

What about the good times?

It is equally important, and usually much easier, to think about yourself as a team during the good times too. It isn’t enough to simply settle in life, even in a relationship; really this is the whole basis behind what we preach on this site. If you are just cruising along without always working towards something better, then you will only be that much more upset when the bad times come along and be put that much further back. Happiness in humans is derived not by complacency but by continual progress.

Thus, it is very important to take this view with relationships because one of the keys to relationships, which is also one of our 10 Commandments to Relationship Bliss, is to never stop learning and growing. You will achieve so much more, as shown throughout all aspects of society as mentioned at the start of this blog post, by working together with your partner than if you simply went at it all alone.

Victory is much sweeter too

It is so much fun to share your accomplishments with the person you’re with. When we achieve anything that we take pride in, we almost always share it with our partner first. Even parents, children, and best friends usually come second to your significant other. When this website was launched, Laura and I celebrated with a special dinner as we were so proud in building it together as well as each other for our individual efforts towards the common goal. When you are able to take joy in your achievements together, it makes the win just that much better.

Don’t forget that teamwork requires strategy too

When you are on a team together, what you are both working towards isn’t just about setting a goal and magically arriving there. Details are necessary: what is the plan of attack, what outcome do we want, and who is going to do which tasks?

Now you should definitely be thinking about the big questions together as a team. For example, if the discussion revolves around having kids, then both of you need to know the game plan for when you want to have them in life, where you want to be in life to make sure you are able to raise your children well and have a good life, and if someone is going to stay home to help raise them, which person will it be?

If you don’t knock out these details ahead of time, or have unresolved differences regarding how everything is going to happen, then ultimately you will wind up fighting down the road. When I discuss the topic of children with Laura, I don’t simply talk to her about when we’re going to have kids and where we need to be in life, but also throw out examples of problems that might arise and ask how we want to handle them.

Although we’re usually on the same page, it always helps to talk about a potential problem, examine all the options, and then know where we’ll want to go from there if it happens in the future. We can’t account for all possibilities, but we can certainly store our answers now and try to apply what we think both of us would want in the moment based on what we’ve discussed in the past. This eliminates so many problems before they even have the chance to cause a rift in our relationship.

Small details matter as well

The small issues require viewing everything through this same teamwork lens too. Let’s say now you have kids, and one of them has to get to soccer practice and another to dance lessons. Don’t think about the time it will take out of your own day and what you will be kept from; after all, if you are in a relationship and have kids, then you decided before now to accept and take on the various responsibilities that come with the territory.

Instead, consider what is best for the overall group’s happiness. How much quicker and easier will you and your partner move through this if you both put in effort together to get both kids to their different events? Yes, you may have to miss watching part of a TV show to run one of the kids to dance lessons, but if you have a great partner with the same mindset, then undoubtedly the small inconveniences you take upon yourself now will be rewarded by them later when it really counts.

Besides, when it comes to this example, most everyone has a DVR now, so is there really any reason to get frustrated over having to do a shared responsibility in your relationship? And this is all before you consider that when you have kids, they are part of the team too, and I can guarantee watching your child take part in activities they enjoy and seeing them succeed is going to matter much more on your death bed than waiting a few extra hours to see the latest episode of your favorite TV show. I don’t even have kids (yet) and I’m positive of that.

No matter what, your best option is to move positively forward. When you think about yourself as a team member with your partner, you come to realize that doing so means you are helping work towards a championship, even if it is just driving your child somewhere.

Even the most inconsequential events in life require good teamwork

A good friend of mine once told me not too long ago about a huge difference he saw between two relationships. When he overslept in the past, his ex-wife would wake up, notice they were late, and start screaming “WAKE THE HELL UP! WE’RE LATE! DAMNIT, WE HAVE TO GO, GET OUT OF BED, LET’S GO!!!

Needless to say, he would be extremely irritated by this action, and both would start off the day angry with one another. They did not move efficiently together towards getting out of the house to get to wherever they needed to be.

He then went on to discuss the relationship he was in at the time. The situation was the same; he had overslept and they had somewhere to be. He was sharing a hotel room with his girlfriend when she woke up, saw the time, and realized they were late.

She opted not to scream at him and work against him, but instead gently woke him and quickly explained the situation. Both of them hopped up and started communicating and working together towards getting everything packed as swiftly as possible.

The end result? They were dressed and out of the room in 7 minutes, proud of their achievement together and in a good mood as they left. This resulted in them being barely late at all, and what was a tiny and brief crisis became a short and non-impacting memory.

Contrast that to having your entire day start out on the wrong note, in a bad mood, with you and your partner both arriving pissed off and very late to wherever you are going. Then try to completely change your mood once you arrive; not only is it nearly impossible, but you will still have some completely unnecessary lingering resentment against your partner.

Teamwork requires honesty as well

Great teammates are honest with one another. If you follow sports, you often hear about the captain who pulls aside someone on the team to give them advice on how to be better and challenges them to rise to the occasion. The best teamwork means holding each other accountable, not out of ego, but because you want to succeed together. Being aware that you are only as strong as your weakest link means you need to be working on strengthening the entire chain.

This website would not have come together without constructive criticism from both Laura and I to each other. We have so much trust in one another and know there are never any ill intentions behind the advice we give one another. Our final product is better because we cared so much about the outcome of the team that we set aside ego and being right and only focused on what we could do to make our achievement the best it could possibly be.

My final word on teamwork in relationships

No matter what happens I always try to think about what actions I can take that will best help both Laura and I together. I strictly adhere to the saying that there is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ Staying positive and working for the both of us as opposed to only myself has had an enormous impact on not only our relationship but my own personal happiness as well. I’m much happier knowing that together we are better than if I cared solely about my own happiness at the cost of Laura’s.

Some actionable steps to take:

  • Think about the past week. Has there been any time that you dumped added work on your partner that wasn’t necessary? If not, way to go! If so, what could you have done instead to make a better outcome for the both of you?
  • Take pride in your mutual accomplishments. Celebrate when you both tackle something and succeed together. The more you do it, the better your world becomes. Never downplay what you achieve together, and always appreciate what your partner put into it.
  • Let us know of one of your big victories in the comments. We’d love to hear some great stories about how you and your partner overcame a situation and succeeded together.

Categories: In A Relationship, Relationship Concepts, Single