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There are many reasons that married couples get stuck in a rut but at the root of such marital problems is often one common factor: a failure to play the game of marriage and life, like a team.  Caught up in feeling angry, upset, let down, and sorry for oneself, it’s easy to forget that how we respond to the relationship problems we believe our husband or wife to be responsible for, determines the results we get.

In marriage, it doesn’t really matter if it’s our spouse that’s at fault, fixing it or letting it continue/worsen will contribute to our own happiness or misery.  Yes we may feel better in the short-term by chastising our spouse over their error but in the long run such an approach often leads to misery and more of the same problem, and even additional problems.

So what type of teammate are you and is it time to change?  Have a read and decide for yourself which one you want to be.

Protective Martyr – “Sorry, it’s always my fault.”

Protective Martyrs tend to be people who either have a stubborn partner who struggles to accept responsibility for their errors OR is a submissive person who finds it easier to take the blame for everything on their shoulders rather than create further conflict within the relationship.

A potential side-effect is that the relationship unravels over time as the partner is used to being absolved of all responsibility and so problems continue and/or worsen OR the power imbalance becomes further pronounced and the submissive partner is frequently over-ruled in both important and unimportant matters.  In such cases, the submissive partner can suffer from flagging self-worth.

Unfair Ruler – “It’s always your fault.”

Universal statements such as “It’s always your fault”, will lead to long-term bitterness within the relationship and declining self-esteem for the partner whose fault it “always is”.  The Unfair Ruler kicks the spouse when they’re down and refuses to accept their responsibility as a teammate to help their spouse to keep spirits up when they need their partner’s support.  This can lead to the demise of the relationship.

Mr or Mrs Indispensible – “I’ll fix it, as usual.”

Whilst Mr or Mrs Indispensible may do this out of love, they are actually suffocating their partner’s personal growth which can affect other areas of their life, e.g. their career and other relationships.  Such an approach to problems creates dependency instead of empowering the spouse to prevent and fix problems on their own.

Babying the spouse means there is always an imbalance in power and manipulative spouses can use this as a way to keep themselves on top instead of on an equal footing with their “beloved”.

Mr or Mrs Not Interested – “It’s your problem, you fix it.”

If you’re not interested in helping your teammate, AKA your spouse, then you really have missed the point of marriage, altogether.  There is always something you can do to help your spouse, whether it’s keeping morale high, helping them to find the answers by asking solution-focused questions, or creating time and space for them to fix whatever problem they’ve created.  Helping creates harmony in the relationship, intensifies your marital bond and reduces stress which could otherwise lead to one of several serious illnesses.

If they always have to fix their own problems without your support, they may not want you there for the good times either.  Take this mindset from relationship to relationship and you’ll never create a successful, healthy relationship with any spouse or partner.

Doomed Lover – “It’s our problem, we’re so unlucky.”

You may love and support your spouse and want to share all problems (which is wonderful) but if it’s all doom and gloom in your mind, you will create problem after problem in your life and theirs.  You will focus on fears and problems instead of hopefulness and solutions, and you will take your spouse down into this self-fulfilling gutter with you.

One of you could have been the rock, but spend enough time with a Doomed Lover and the rock will soon erode into a small stone that struggles to weather the storms of life.

Life Jacket Lover – “It’s our problem, we’ll find a way to fix it.”

When the going gets tough, the Life Jacket Lover gets going.  They’re the one that makes the problem easier to understand, makes the pain easier to endure, and shows you how much easier it is to fix the problem than you first thought.  Ultimately, they’re the one that makes everything in life feel lighter, makes the bad times easier and the good times even greater.

Those married to this teammate wake up most days with a relaxed, happy heart, courage to grow as an individual and achieve great things, and gratitude that they are the one that their lover chose to spend their life with.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Nice article it certainly helps couples to understand who they really are in their marriage. I think i am a live jacket lover in my marriage. This approach has help me a lot when conflict arise and perhaps is one of the main reasons we have been together for 16 years.

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