Apparently, leadership and submission are not so black and white after all.
The little talked about dynamic of teamwork in marriage – where more than anything else, two people lean on each others strengths while covering each others weaknesses – is the real prize*
This little nugget of truth will help the spouse who is running on fumes when it comes to waiting on a spouse to “take the lead” or “to submit”.
Granted, the two roles of submission and leadership are crucial. No doubt.
But I am now sufficiently persuaded that when we allow the marriage to turn on the wheels of teamwork, rather than strictly defined roles, when we allow these male/female functions to act as the foundation of teamwork, a new kind of strength and freshness is infused into the relationship.
I readily admit to getting more hung up on roles and responsibilities, more than teamwork and I’ve written about that here.
Teamwork in marriage – the learning curve
A few years ago, when I walked down the aisle on a bright Saturday morning, the ideas swirling in my head about my wedded-bliss were more numerous than the pretty flowers lining up the grassy aisle.
A lot of my expectations were subconscious and a large chunk came from my upbringing.
My dad was a builder and contractor – he was good with tools, so good that he built the very house we lived in. He was carpenter, mason, plumber and everything else you can think of when it comes to building.
That meant that he was quite handy around the house and could literally smell-out issues of repair, maintenance, replacement.
My brothers (all five of them) grew up to be like him in terms of repairs and fixing things around the house, yard, farm.
That was the image I had in my mind when I got married – all men are handymen.
So very early in my marriage and when we experienced a leak on a sink in our new home, I expected my sweetheart to whip up a spanner and fix the thing up.
But my baby shoved a bucket underneath the leaking pipe.
I swallowed my shock. And after what seemed like forever, I prodded for some action.
And got exactly..nothing.
So I put on my carpenter’s-daughter hat and tried to figure out the leak and eventually tied some nylon paper around it.
After a while, it became too much. And so my sweetheart looked for a piece of wood, disconnected the piping beneath the sink and plugged the sharpened wood into one end of the pipe.
There. Problem solved.
But for me, a lack of a functioning tap was not “problem solved.”
The reality of being a team in marriage
I admit that I was pretty impatient in terms of how I wanted the leak fixed. But beyond impatience was a thorough misunderstanding as what constitutes a good husband.
My husband is awesome and amazing in many other areas…but as I came to find out, handyman is a stretch for him.
You see, he grew up in the city with an accountant father and the typical urban life. Some skills and habits were simply not part of his upbringing and thus never featured in his areas of interest.
But all along, I had assumed all men were fixers in the house. So when my brand new husband “failed” to live up to my idea of manhood/good husband, I was rubbed raw on the inside.
The truth was that my disappoint stemmed from the expectation I had in my my mind more than the messy drops of water in the bucket.
Just as I did, most marrieds carry pre-defined ideas in their minds about how their spouse should or should not be.
And we are hang up on these expectations; stuck on roles (that’s a guy thing or that’s a woman thing) and refuse to see beyond them to the higher role of teamwork.
Here’s why teamwork in marriage is important.
I believe teamwork releases your spouse to be human.
It strikes down comparisons (my friend’s husband does this and so you must do it too) and competitiveness (I will show him!) It also beats down that bad habit of generalization, and brings us to the core of who we really are.
Partnering with each other calls for covering each others weaknesses with grace and love.
Doing something without being asked. Refusing to watch your partner struggle with something that you can do more easily even when its not “your thing”.
Working as a team blurs the rigidity of roles and allows people to flow in whatever way that works best for them. No two couples are alike.
Like all great teams, there are ground rules (e.g the roles and responsibilities of the man and woman in marriage.)
Nonetheless, these ground rules serve as a foundation, not as a prison. This foundation is what allows the team to build up and grow strong.
Giving your 101% in your marriage includes overlooking some mistakes and letting go of some regular expectations.
If you can pick it up, just pick it up. If you can graciously cover, you don’t need to shout about it from the rooftops. It’s not a 50-50 relationship, where “I won’t do my part until you finish yours”.
At the time of writing this post, I tinker a lot (like I have done most of my life) with things that do not function as I want them to. I do what I can do.
I extend the grace to him, remind myself that he is not my Dad and thus will not immediately see a shelve that needs an extra screw to hold it up.
I have to adjust and take my “damsel-in-distress” syndrome somewhere else, where his shining armor will show up easier and quicker. (And it does. My husband is the sweetest, kindest, funniest most affection guy I know. I married up!)
So how about you, what are you thoughts on Love, Submission and Teamwork? Please share in Comments below.
*Covering each others weaknesses does not mean covering sin, abuse or addictions.
This post was inspired by Candie Blankman of “Where Life and Ministry Meet”
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