We often think about teamwork in a work setting or during sport. But how often do you refer to yourself and your partner in life as a team?
Having a 'we're in this together' mindset is actually key to developing a healthy and effective romantic relationship. It promotes the feeling that responsibilities are shared and burdens are halved. When stresses occur in everyday life, it's vital to know that your partner will be there with a sympathetic ear and sound advice.
When you're working together towards common goals, you'll form bonds that would be almost impossible if you're constantly pulling against one another or in different directions. And not only that, you'll also be able to solve issues with more creativity and compromise by demonstrating better communication skills and a mutual respect for the value each of you brings to the table.
It goes without saying that one-sided relationships are generally not healthy relationships. Where there is one-sided love, it gives the opportunity for that love to be abused and for a codependent relationship to form. This renders communication and teamworking largely ineffective unless the balance is redressed. One-sided effort and input are other relationship aspects to keep an eye out for due to similar reasons.
A 2010 study(1), discussed the idea of perceived control and perceived neglect, two types of distress that couples experience during interpersonal conflict.
On the one hand, perceived threat involves a "perception that one's partner is blaming and controlling them". While on the other hand, perceived neglect involves a "perception that one's partner is failing to make desired contributions or investments".
These perceptions make for a distressing cycle of unresolved conflict and relationship dissatisfaction.
And they make for a feeling that's a world away from that of a 'team' approach to life.
The good news is that no matter what's going on, there are plenty of quick wins when it comes to behaving as a team. As long as you're both keen to put in the effort.
Here are some of our top tips to get you started:
The brain space taken up with planning ahead meals for the family and factoring these in when doing the food shopping, and then doing the cooking for those meals, having considered everyone’s likes and dislikes and social schedules can be exhausting. And that’s just the half of it. There is also the mental load involved with seeing mess and dirt around the house and scheduling in cleaning, along with the logistics of managing childcare arrangements, juggling the budgets to pay the bills on time, managing the diary to visit elderly parents… the list goes on and every single one of those tasks takes its toll mentally.
Life today presents us with a near constant flow of adulting and life admin. Far too much for one of you to deal with. But by facing up to it, writing a list and agreeing who will do what, you'll not only feel more organized about everything, you'll both have an appreciation of exactly what your partner is doing to help keep life running smoothly.
While we sometimes feel suggesting this can feel a little flippant, the concept of gratitude is actually an incredibly powerful one. Learn to recognize and thank your partner for all the little things they do, or simply for being them, and you'll find you both move forward with a more positive mindset and a greater appreciation for one another. Which will only help when it comes to building that mutual respect and team mentality.
Of course, it's nice to share some hobbies and interests with your partner. But let's face it, it's also nice to spend time doing the things we really enjoy on our own. Work together to figure out how you both get to do the things you want yet still give time to one another.
This could be as simple as curling up on the sofa together while one of you watches a favorite show and the other reads. Or it could be a more complicated plan to ensure both of you can find the time to play those team sports you love. By actively supporting one another to engage in their favorite pastimes it says, "what's important to you is important to me and we both have an equal right to do what we enjoy".
Getting out of your comfort zones is a great way to bond, but you don't have to choose something that feels overtly like a team building activity such as a three-legged race or boot camp survival weekend. Try travelling together to a new city where you'll be forced to make plans and navigate unfamiliar situations, settle down for some mental health-boosting yoga or meditation, or get out and volunteer at a homeless shelter or another organization. Anything you can do together that opens your eyes to new experiences and puts you together outside of your familiar routine will do wonders for your relationship.
By far one of the biggest improvements you can make in your relationship is the way you communicate with one another. Are you able to talk openly and honestly with one another? Is your body language consistent with what you say? Are you able to ask for what you want in the bedroom? And do you feel you and your partner are tuned in to one another?
If you often find you misunderstand one another's intentions or feel you're stuck in patterns of communication that aren't healthy, you may find that support from a relationship therapist can help. Work towards getting your conversations unstuck and become more mindful of your attitudes and behaviors towards one another. You'll soon find things begin to feel more team-y. For more guidance here, Blueheart has a course that addresses just this.