18 Sep

“Now this is what a team looks like!”  “I’m telling you, this is beautiful concrete!”  “We’ve got the whole gang getting this job done!”  As I watched Matt and his crew pour the concrete for my driveway this morning I saw a leader creating a strong team and motivating his helpers.  In contrast, I heard a husband say recently, “I just don’t have the time to spend with you.  I have too much on my plate at work, with school, and with my hockey team.  You’re asking for too much.”  He is clearly indicating that the marriage is not a high priority in his life.  His framework is of living his life as an individual person trying to slug through it all.  What a difference it would make if this man approached his life as one part of a strong marital team!

Research has repeatedly shown that when people feel connected to others, they are more successful in their efforts.  One recent study, by Priyanka Carr and Greg Walton of Stanford University, demonstrated the power of believing that one is working on a task “together.”   Individuals from both groups were given puzzles to solve on their own.  The only difference between the two groups was that the experimental group was told that they were working on the puzzles “together” with other team members and they would receive tips from and give tips to other group members.  The control group gave and received (the same) tips from the researchers.  The group that was “psychologically together” outperformed the other group: they solved more puzzles, they worked on the puzzles 48% longer, they had better recall of the puzzles, and they reported feeling less depleted from the task.

What if you brought this mindset to your marriage or partnership?  What if you encouraged your partner that “we are in this together” or “I am there for you when you need me.”  What if you really believed that a sense of connection to YOU could be a powerful change agent in your partner’s life?  You would seldom feel lonely because you would know that you are constantly making a difference in the life of your partner.  You would experience that magic that one plus one equals three or seventeen!  You would reach out for a word of encouragement when you needed it and be quick to give that word of encouragement when you partner needed it.  Choose to live your life “together” with your partner, your friends, your kids, and your co-workers.