One Phrase That Will Change Your Marriage

“I love you.”

“Please forgive me.”

“I was wrong.”

These could all fit the description of the title of this post, but there’s another phrase that has, in recent years, become incredibly important in my own marriage. It’s a phrase that Jana and I will say to each other when we’re having a difficult evening with the kids, when we’re financially strapped, when things are frustrating for me at work, and even when we have wronged each other:

“We are on the same team.”

It’s a simple phrase, but one that can make a world of difference when you begin to repeat it to each other. When we say that to each other, we remind one another and ourselves that no matter what happens in life, job, or parenting, we are of the same mind. The same heart. The same flesh.

“We are on the same team.”

When one of the kids will ask us a question, get an answer they don’t like, and then go ask the other one, we love to exasperate them with this phrase. We’ve used it often enough that they can even repeat it to us through clinched teeth: “Did you ask Mommy?”

“Yes.”

“And what did she say?”

Then comes the answer.

“What do you think I’m going to say?”

“The same thing.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re on the same team.”

That’s right, kids. We’re on the same team. And you can either get on our team, or you can stay opposed to us, but we’re not budging. And in a way, we say the same thing to the world. When we are tempted to be frustrated with each other, when we are tempted to selfishly pursue our own ends, when we are tempted to criticize or perhaps even stray from our vows, we remember that we are on the same team. We have the same objectives. We are working not alone, but together. And it helps to know that someone is always on your side.

It helps to know that someone is your cheerleader. It helps to know that even when the world piles up stuff against you, you’re not alone. It helps immensely.

“We are on the same team.”

It seems to me that conflict in marriage turns into bitterness when we forget that. We get our own agenda in mind and forget that we’re not only working for ourselves but for the good of another. But when we remember, we are forced to put the team ahead of the individual. So why not give it a try?

Tonight when you are tempted to use harsh words, repeat it to yourself. When you want to be selfish, repeat it to yourself. When you desire to shirk responsibility to the other party, repeat it to yourself. And watch what happens:

“We are on the same team.”

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