Every morning, after I wake up, one of the first things I do is make the bed. (Exciting start to this blog post, huh?) This tends to be one of my chores in our marriage because my wife Alissa typically comforts and feeds our infant daughter Clara when she wakes up. So, let’s just say that making the bed usually isn’t her top priority.
My process is pretty simple, and it’s probably not all that different from anyone else who makes their bed. I pull up the sheets on one side. Then, I walk to the other side to do the same. I repeat that process as necessary, throw the pillows on, and I’m done. (You can thank me for this tutorial later.)
But two Saturdays ago, as I began my bed-making routine, Alissa happened to be upstairs. And Clara was happy. So, she went to the opposite side of the bed from where I stood, and we pulled up the sheets at the same time.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
Who cares? It’s just making the bed. What did she save you, 2 minutes?
Yes. She did. But do you know what she really did in that moment? She made my life easier. She made my life better. And that’s all because we worked as a team. Isn’t that how marriage is supposed to work?
7 years of marriage
On January 8th, Alissa and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. And while I am far from an expert on what it takes to be a good husband, I have learned one thing: a good marriage requires a team effort. Working together to make the bed on that Saturday is just one example. But what if that was my only chore and I left the rest to Alissa? That probably wouldn’t go over so well would it?
Because marriage is a team effort.
So, we divide up the tasks around the house. I take a lot of the outdoor landscaping responsibilities. Alissa handles much of the cleaning inside the house. She cooks. I clean the dishes. She does the laundry and irons. I fold it and put it away.
But chores aren’t the only task within a marriage. What about finances? What if I solely handled the finances, deciding what and how we saved, and dictating to Alissa what she could spend money on? That would probably lead us down the path to divorce.
But marriage is a team effort.
So we budget our income together, and we maximize our own skills in this area. I’m better with the math side of things. And Alissa knows how to setup a great Excel spreadsheet with formulas that keep us on track. This has allowed us to live debt free and have financial peace within our marriage.
Then, of course, there’s the kids. For anyone who’s married and has kids, you know the beautiful blessings of parenthood. But you also know the struggle. Kids require a lot of attention, especially when they’re young. Take for example, our recent bout with the stomach bug. Our 2-year-old, Nolan, woke up at 2 am one night. I heard him, so I jumped out of bed with the intent to get him back to sleep. And I was greeted with puke…all over his bedroom carpet. That night Alissa and I worked together to remedy the situation.
Because marriage is a team effort.
But what if I let Alissa handle it all by herself? What if I let her comfort Nolan, clean up the carpet, keep the other 2 kids asleep, and hold the puke bucket next to him for the rest of the night. There’s a pretty good chance I’d be sleeping on the couch…or in the garage.
Know your role
Having played on various sports teams throughout my life, you would think I have this down. And yet, it hasn’t been easy. Too often I choose my pride and want to be the sole leader in our marriage. Or, I act selfishly and place my wants above those of Alissa. Or I get frustrated when I can’t do something as good as she can do.
For more than 7 years now, I’ve been working on adjusting this attitude. (And I’ll probably be doing that for 7 more.) But I have realized something about marriage that has helped me. Much like in team sports, we each have a role, only in marriage, it can vary based on the situation.
- Sometimes you’re the star player. You’re the primary care giver, who excels at parenting your children. This is Alissa, and she’s great at it. Or, you’re the breadwinner who’s responsible for your family’s income. That’s where I’m the star in our marriage.
- Sometimes you’re the backup player. Maybe you don’t cook on a regular basis, but your spouse gets sick. So you need to step up. That’s where I’m the backup man. I typically don’t cook, but if Alissa’s tending to something else, I can make a mean sandwich (or whip up some tasty Ramen noodles). Or maybe you don’t earn any income, but you’re in a tight spot. So you find a way to make a couple extra bucks for a month or two. That’s where Alissa backs me up. When we need a little extra income around the house, she finds a way to sell an old appliance on Craigslist to help us out.
- Sometimes you’re the role player. You’re not the best at folding laundry, but it needs to get done and you have time. That’s me. I usually fold our laundry at night while watching a game or my favorite show. Or maybe you’d rather not help your kids with homework, but you’re the only option. That’s Alissa’s role. She’d much rather be doing something else, but she takes up this role to keep our family functioning (and our kids educated).
Whether you’re making the bed, or in the midst of the storms of life, each spouse has role to play in any marriage. And sure, you’ll still have your ups and downs, but just remember that you’re strongest when you work together.
If you’re single but looking to get married one day, remember: marriage is a team effort. If you’re married now but going through a hard time, remember: marriage is a team effort. And if your marriage is thriving, please pass along some other tips that have benefitted you and your spouse (check the comments section). After all, this is just one thing Alissa and I have learned after 7 years. But, we have a long way to go. And the best way to grow, is to follow in the footsteps of other great marriages.
Question: What’s one piece of marriage advice that’s helped you over the years? (Share with others in the comments below.)