You can certainly notice when a sports or business team is unified because they tend to experience a great deal of success. Each player focuses on their role in creating a well-coordinated effort to win as a team.
The same is true for marriages. In my work with couples I find that one of the major contributing factors to relationship dissatisfaction has to do with the fact that they are together but not truly unified.
Many couples are together in that they live in the same home, share the same financial resources, sleep in the same bed, attend their kids’ Saturday soccer games and go out on an occasional date. These things are good, but they don’t necessarily reflect unity. Let me explain.
Unity is defined as the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole. This definition applies so perfectly to marriage! It goes deeper than simply being in proximity to one another. Unity in marriage is characterized by several key qualities:
Shared relationship goals: Are you both “all in” to make your marriage the best it can be? Working diligently toward growing together will result in both partners experiencing greater satisfaction. If either partner is more interested in meeting their individual needs rather than prioritizing the relationship, the marriage will be unsatisfying for both partners.
Joint participation in parenting, financial management and general decision making: After the dream wedding, life starts to get real. Practical, everyday responsibilities and opportunities occur for every couple, and they can’t be addressed by romantically gazing into each other’s eyes. Successful marriage is accomplished through cooperation, compromise, and willingness to work together.
Mutual loyalty, support and encouragement: Many of the couples I have worked with seemed to have forgotten the important principle that once you say, “I do”, you’ve signed up to be on the same team. Successful teams and satisfying marriages happen when you build one another up, help each other overcome the weak areas, acknowledge good effort and show appreciation.
Reciprocated love and respect: A satisfying marriage is made when both partners treat each other the way they want to – and need to – be treated. A one-sided relationship in which one person does the giving and the other does the taking is not working in unity. When your spouse does something that is not loving or respectful, resist the urge to retaliate. But when they show love or respect, make sure you return the favor! Unity is being together, not pulling apart!
Willingness to consistently resolve disagreement and conflict: Unresolved anger and issues lead to resentment, which will divide a couple as one or both partners withdraw defensively. The key is to recognize that the team (the marriage) is more important than your individual feelings at the moment. Temporary feelings can turn into long-term division if they are left unresolved. Move toward each other with sincere apologies and open conversation about how you can both help unify your marriage.
When a couple is truly unified they experience “becoming one” as most marriage vows promise. They enjoy a much higher level of marital intimacy and satisfaction than couples who are just living separate lives under the same roof.
Don’t settle for just being together in your marriage – strive to be unified. You can begin the process by talking with your spouse about the characteristics of a unified marriage and identify the areas of your relationship that need attention. You may find that there’s a need for an attitude adjustment, improved communication, letting go of resentment and bitterness and making the decision to better understand and meet each other’s needs.
What are the things that seem to get in the way of unity in your marriage? Have you discovered ways to become more unified with your spouse? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the Comments below!
Life is too short to not experience and enjoy the benefits of unity. Make the choice to strengthen your marriage today and build a strong, successful marital team!
Live, Work and Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.