“Soulmate” is a silly term. I believe this wholeheartedly. Not always a popular opinion, but one that I feel makes relationships, love, and marriage a bit more realistic and therefore, more likely to last. Life is not a Nicholas Sparks novel. Couples do not ride off into the sunset.
Before you accuse me of being overly pragmatic, please know that I believe romance plays a very important role in any relationship, but it does not sustain a relationship on its own, long-term.
So what about the rest of the details that make up your marriage?
There are fundamental, non-romantic, ways to make the day-to-day parts of you and your partner’s relationship something that works as a foundation for the rest of your lives.
Teammates from the beginning
While planning our wedding, Ryan and I both wrote a short blurb about our families to be read during our reception.
I penned the following: “Alaina says her dad is her hero, her mom is her best friend and her brother is her other half.”
Ryan’s snarky response began with: “Uh huh… and where does that leave me?” (We too, had already covered that I don’t believe in soulmates.)
I backtracked quickly… “you’re my partner… my teammate.”
Looking back at this scenario, I stumbled a bit for the right term.
Now, nearly 6 years later I realize that, perhaps accidentally, I hit the nail on the head.
This mentality is why we are where we are, working together and living the dream. I say this because I truly believe that picking your partner for life is one of, if not the most, important choice you’ll ever make.
He doesn’t wash dishes or lock up the house at dark quite as quickly as I’d like him to.
And I don’t get the mail or go through bills quite as quickly as he’d like me to. (Note: our mailman literally drops our mail INTO our house through a slot near our front door.)
Don’t even get me started on either one of us trying to give directions while the other is driving.
We work despite these things.
We work because we are each other’s lifelong teammate.
Six rules to be a good teammate in your marriage
There are six things Ryan and I try to follow each and every day. We don’t always succeed and some days it’s definitely harder to follow through on some of them, but we do our best to uphold them regularly.
1. No one should ever hear anything bad about your spouse from you. No one.
It’s one thing to joke with your friends and tell them about how your spouse does the dishes so slowly you might as well just do them yourself. It’s another thing to demean your spouse’s character by discussing details of issues in your relationship such as money or disciplining your child. Know the difference and always discuss the latter with your spouse and no one else.
2. Over communicate.
You cannot read each other’s minds. Never assume the other person knows what you meant. Give each other the benefit of the doubt when miscommunications happen. Double check if necessary. (Ladies, this is difficult for us. We would rather telepathically tell our husbands what to do and seethe underneath when he doesn’t do it – am I right?)
3. Try new things together.
Even if one of you is a foodie (Ryan) and one of you is a picky eater (me), that doesn’t mean you cannot have fun at that new Asian Fusion restaurant together. Trying new things gets an individual out of their comfort zone and is often easier as a couple, allowing you both to grow stronger together.
4. Be each other’s champion. Celebrate wins and encourage each other.
Bring home champagne after a promotion at work, back each other up when engaging in that tiny battle with your heathen toddler, work out together or keep each other accountable in separate workout regimens. Never cut the other person down when they are struggling.
5. Be grateful for each other’s contributions.
Whether it be money, time, chores, childcare, or anything else, no one contribution is greater than another. And don’t keep score. If you truly value each other’s input, then the scorecard shouldn’t (and doesn’t) matter.
6. Trust and respect each other. Especially in front of others, including your children.
If you do not respect your spouse in front of other people, why should those people respect your spouse? Enough said.
I’ll leave you with perhaps the best marriage advice we ever received in a recap of a conversation between me and a random woman on the beach in Jamaica:
Me: “We just got married over the weekend. This is our honeymoon. It’s our last evening here.”
Woman: “Want some advice?”
Woman. “The secret to a long marriage is easy… just stay married.”
Simple, but true. Marriage, or any long-term relationship, is not all about love and romance. It’s about working at it day in and day out. It’s about choosing your partner every day. Whether you love them or hate them on that given day – and trust me, there will be days that you hate each other – choose to stay married.
Wow!!!! Excellent write up. I learnt a lot.
I wish to share on Facebook please
Beautiful piece. This is a take home for married couples.
Yvonne Chase says
I agree with you; soulmates is a silly term. What it represents dooms couples. Like toy said, there’s no riding off into the sunset. It’s daily work. Daily choosing. Daily committing. Blessings to your marriage. Your six rules are great.
Raymond Keenan says
Here I find myself, 73yrs young, my Wife of 51yrs with stomach cancer.
Now is the reckoning, that vow, in sickness or in health, did it really mean as much to me then as it does now?
We are now 6 months past the day of discovery, and 2 months past the removal of most of her stomach.
What I learnt during this six month learning curve:
1. To have hair – or not makes NO difference to my love for her.
2. I find it rewarding to clean up after a vomiting bout. (Not necessarily enjoyable, but being of service!)
3. Seeing my wife in an almost skeletal form doesn’t change how I feel, I still remember my 36x24x36 wife,
God Bless you Raymond!!
Christ be with you and your wife, Raymond. She’s got an angel at her side by the sound of it.
Wow, thank you for this post. I’ve been married for just 3 months now and I already see the relevance of all of it.
What makes a relationship last is indeed not passion, but always being a team. My husband teached me that and I love him even more for it.
I will follow you guys, please share more of your wisdom!
My wife and I have been together for 5 years and married for a year and a half. I feel like this could be her and I writing this. Keep up the great work!
A simple thank you for this!
You couldn’t imagine the journey I’ve been on.
My wife and I have stayed married.
We will use these tips. After over 20 years I guess that says a lot. We are still searching for ways to be stronger and ways to be a better teammate!
God enables us to love as we should. Glory to God.
Thanks for sharing such sensible and sensitive advice – I have been married for 22 years and I wholeheartedly agree with your six pointers… Reflecting back over the most challenging times (when our twins were small and we were BOTH completely exhausted) we articulated something similar … I seem to remember 3 points (but it was focused a little more on how we could be a team raising the children. ) Mostly we try not to take ourselves too seriously
Enjoy your time as a family xxx Claire
Rhoda Ortoba says
Jim Kinnebrew says
Simple, excellent advice! Just stay married.
Hi! I can’t find an email address for ya’ll but I host a podcast called The Margarita Confessionals and I LOVE this piece – we would love to have you on our show to talk relationships and being teammates instead of soulmates! Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to join us!!! Thanks!!! Ali
Love this article so much. Thank you for opening my mind up.
Myra Wise says
This was one of the shortest – yet – most poignant relationship guidelines I’ve ever read. Thank you! (If you don’t mind though)….I’d have added a # 7 which would be to accept inevitable differing opinions on the big 3; namely: sex, religion & politics with an opportunity for growth if that happens to arise in your ongoing relationship!
Juanita Conner-Ehiorobo says
love, marriage and anything else you chose to do in life is a choice. I love the advice given…”choose to stay married.” My husband and I have been married for 35 years this year and there were times, very early on, around year five that I asked my husband to leave, I told him that I did not want to be marreid to him anymore and that I wanted him to leave and I wanted a divorce. Well his response was to infactically informed me that he was not going ANYWHERE, he was staying and if I wanted to leave, that I could leave but he was not leaving. That shook me in a very profound way. It made me realize that regardless of what was ahead of us…my husband was not going to go ANYWHERE, he was committed to our marriage and commited to me. I realized that I had to make that same depth of committment to our marriage and to my husband. Thirty-five years later, we are STILL together and life together only keeps getting better. We are retiring this year and are both looking forward to enjoying each other and life in retirement…TOGETHER.
I also remember a story about an arranged married between two individuals who had never met or even seen each other prior to the arrangement. I remember the story being told from the male’s prespective. The male was in the US, while the wife was coming from his homeland, India (I think). He informed his audience that He had already purposed to love his new wife before he had even seen her, irregardless of what she looked like, what she acted like, what size she was, irregardless of ANYTHING, HE HAD PUPOSED TO LOVE HER. Image his future wife, leaving her homeland and EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE she had ever known, boarding a plane to go to a country that you had never even visited before to marry a man that you had not met even laid eyes on before, she too said that she had PURPOSED TO LOVE her new husband. At the sharing of the story, both had been married 4O years and had raised a family together and they both shared that they STILL LOVE EACH OTHER. MARRIAGE has to do with PURPOSE AND COMMITTMENT. Each MUST PURPOSE in their own heart and mind to LOVE, SUPPORT and COMMIT THEMSELVES TO EACH OTHER AS WELL AS THE MARRIAGE….and there can NEVER BE AN OPTION TO BREAK THE BOND OF MARRAIGE. The one major exception to this would be ABUSE, We were NEVER intended to live a life of ABUSE. If you are in a marriage of abuse, get out! EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING else can be worked out. You may CHOOSE not to work it out, but you get to make the choice.
Thank you for that good advice
B. Larry Anderson says
This is absolute gold! I love this message!
Thank you for putting this out there. There are so many couples struggling to find their rhythm with each other and what you’ve shared are basic, elementary steps of a process that will create that rhythm.
Printing this out so we can re-visit it every once in a while.
Simple and effective and extremely well written!
Erick B says
This post is right on point ! I have been married 27 years and this is how to do marriage. Good word !
OMG! As a divorcee, I so agree with this post. Marriage is a longterm partnership, contract, and business. It involves love but that is not what keeps it going. I wish I had known this befor I got married but you live and you learn. Great article!
Great advice. I passed it on to my sons, who have struggled with marital problems. Maybe this will help!
Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.
Wedding Phere says
It is a great blog post about teammate marriage .I am always read your blog helpful and informative tips. I like it thanks for sharing this information with us