Couples Are Teams: Hallmarks of Happy Ones

Whether it be raising kids, running a home, or navigating a life event like a major illness or career shift, couples are teams. In small every day ways, couples have the chance to be teammates as well: planning meals, money management, even sex! That’s one of the most powerful parts of being a member of a couple: that feeling of you’re not alone. Unfortunately the exciting tingles of falling in love and deep security of early partnership can fade over time when life together becomes routine, stress becomes overwhelming, or when you slowly shift from getting to know each other to assuming you already know all there is to know.

Being part of an effective team is a profoundly satisfying and even invigorating experience. Anyone who plays (or spectates!) sports, enjoys a supportive and successful team at work, or is a member of a choir or theater cast knows the simultaneous surge of excitement and loyalty that a team can bring: that feeling of being part of something larger than yourself.

Who better to enjoy such feelings of  excitement and satisfaction with than your partner? If you’d like to improve the quality of your team as a couple, or want to be sure and maintain the intimacy you’ve already built, take a look at these 6 Hallmarks of Happy Couple Teams:

1. Trust – This seems like a no-brainer, and that’s because trust really is the foundation of every important aspect of your relationship as a couple. If trust is something you’ve not taken as seriously as you meant to, or you’ve encountered big breaks in trust during your life as a couple, it’s time to make rebuilding that trust a top priority. You may consider seeing a professional such as a couples therapist to assist if necessary. If you’re lucky enough to have a trusting relationship, don’t take it for granted. Guard your trustworthiness with each other as the prized treasure that it is.

2. Communication – How can two separate people with two different brains, different histories, different preferences, and different ideas, feelings, plans, and problems possibly work well together as a team without communication? The short answer is they can’t. Being able to share your ideas with your partner is essential to a strong and happy team together. Equally if not more important is the ability to truly listen to your partner’s ideas. This means focusing your mind only on what he/she is saying – not developing a defense or waiting for a chance to talk again. Good communication such as this may be slow in the beginning, or when discussing difficult topics – but it will pay off in terms of highly effective communication in the lifetime of your team.

3. Don’t Take Things Personally – Have you ever heard the saying that how a person reacts to you says more about him/her than you? Well, it’s true. Outside of those heart-to-heart occurrences where your partner may be sharing something important about how you affect him/her, most jokes, snide remarks, and misguided feedback really isn’t personal. It’s just not. Accepting this and avoiding easily bruised feelings will not only change your happiness in your partnership, it will change your life.

4. Self-Soothing – Not taking things personally is much easier if you have the capacity to self-soothe. By self-soothe, I mean the ability to calm yourself down when you have perceived (perhaps falsely, perhaps not) that your partner has slighted you in some way. This does not mean that after you’re calm that you shouldn’t talk about what happened. But don’t rely on your partner to always soothe you with his/her proclamations of love, affection, compliments, etc. Sometime you have to be able to take some deep breaths and remind yourself of your good qualities and worthiness without your partner’s help. The ability to do this will transform your relationship in ways you cannot imagine.

5. Avoid Perfectionism – No one is perfect. We do the best we can, and then have to let the rest go – in each other and in ourselves. I was kayaking with my partner a few weekends ago in a tandem kayak – an endeavor we’d neither done before independently or together. If we’d decided we were going to “perfectly” navigate this unknown river, in this new-to-us flotation device, it would have been a miserable day! Instead we communicated the best we could, problem-solved mistakes such as getting caught on rocks (or yes, there was this one time I fell out of the kayak!), and laughed off the rest. This is a good metaphor for life. Perfectionism isn’t possible, but learning together is.

6. Seek Humor – Along with avoiding perfectionism, the ability to seek humor in situations is key. Couples who can tell a joke, crack a smile, and overall bring levity to life situations have a far greater chance of staying together for the long haul and enjoying themselves along the way. Your brain may be telling you: this is awful, scary, angering. And it may be! Also allow room for the part of the situation that is playful, silly, and adventurous. Enjoy!

All content owned by Amanda Bowers.

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