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Are you a fan of your own marriage?

i wanna hold your hand
i wanna hold your handPhoto Courtesy of Vicki Hilyer

In your marriage, have you or your spouse ever uttered the words, “I just don’t love them like I use to?” This is a sentiment that’s all too common, and getting to the root of those word, can make a huge difference behind the success or failure of that marriage. Not to simplify things, but your marriage's highs and lows come to a basic attitude issue. If you have a good attitude or ‘team attitude=doing whatever for the good of the team’, you have a better chance of pulling through those slump seasons.

Just like in sports, there are certain keys to the game that give any team the building blocks to win. Your marriage works the same, and we are going to identify those three areas and how they can play out in your marriage.

In any sport there are three key types of people:

1. The Spectator
2. The Fan
3. The Player

The role you are in now in your marriage/family can change if you are willing to apply a winning attitude. Each marriage has the tools to be great, and that lies in playing to the strengths and weaknesses of your spouse.

The Spectator

If you are new to a sport and are just learning the rules, you have become a spectator of that sport. You don’t understand the sport, but are learning because the sport may have drawn you in. You have friends or family who like it. Maybe it’s the next big thing, and you want to see what the hubbub is about. This is similar in your marriage and other marriages around you. As you wake up each day, you choice to love your spouse through your actions; it’s either a negative or positive action. The hard part to swallow is that even doing nothing to feed/lift up your spouse, is the same as negative because contentment or laziness puts you in a spectator mindset in your marriage. You are going through the motions and are not contributing anything lasting. Being still in your marriage is like death; it slips up on you and decay sets in.

The Fan

Sports fans are easy to spot. They’re passionate about their team. They are willing to do anything to tell others about their team. That’s on both sides of the coin, whether they’re bragging about their team’s success or defending the team’s down season.

Moving into a fan role in your marriage is much the same. As spectator, you have no passion, no desire to go deeper into something that you have no interest in. It could simply be the passion from other “fans” in other healthy marriages that excites you. This is what I call the 12th Man. In football, each team has 11 men on the field during each play, but you will often hear announcers talk about the 12th man. Now if there is a 12th man on the field, the team gets penalized, but most of the time when they talk about the 12th man, they mean the crowd. The crowd cheers louder when the other team is trying to score. They also cheer for their team when they do something well or when they are trying to rally the team for a comeback; the same goes for marriage. Our 12th man is someone outside of our marriage who has been there-done-that. A mentor couple who has seen their team through hard times is a great 12th man or each spouse can find their 12th man in someone of the same sex to talk to who can cheer them on. The 12th man always needs to be someone of the same sex. Wives need to talk to other wives and husbands need to talk to other husbands. Otherwise, your 12th man could end up on the field and you could get penalized in the form of a physical or emotional affair.

When you talk to your 12th man about your marriage, be honest with them. They can’t help you if you don’t tell them the truth. This is not the time to sit around and complain about your husband, that wouldn’t be showing respect, but rather talk about your troubles is a discreet way that doesn’t make her lose respect for him as a man. You wouldn’t want your husband going off complaining about you, show him that same respect; remember you’re his cheerleader. I know it is very easy when women get together for them to complain about their husbands' “flaws”, but if you want to be a strong team you can’t bad mouth your teammate. I have seen quarterbacks bad mouth another player on their team during after game interviews; this only adds tension between them and doesn’t motivate them to play better next week. Part of your involvement as a fan comes from your marriage itself and when the passion within the walls of your marriage can’t be found, it can be found in the 12th Man. They have found a belief in you when you don’t have it in yourself.

When I started in my marriage, it’s like all newlyweds, it’s new and exciting and full of hope. Then life sets in and you find flaws in your spouse that start can change how you feel about them. That’s where the Love Is A Choice mindset can help you grow a love that is lasting by actually finding out how to show love to your spouse so that even if you never spoke the words “I Love You” they know it by your actions.

Once you have a 12th Man for your marriage and understand your role in that relationship, you can find that you are moving from spectator to fan again. Your level of excitement in marriage/’team’ also
increases.

The Player

The player role is the most rewarding phase. As you move from spectator to fan to player, you can find God working in your life. He prepares you for changes as well as for challenges. Sometimes that challenge is the struggle of finding time to do all that you need or want to do. This is where the attitude of “whatever it takes” really drives a person. Being a player doesn’t mean that your marriage works you to the bone and takes all your free time. Sometimes it can feel that way if it’s a busy season for your life/relationship and for the areas of your involvement, but a husband/wife’s role is not to overload you. Balance of the things God wants you to invest in your marriage is the goal; a team effort for both of you. Players play together with one common goal in mind and that is to replace your needs with your spouse’s needs. If you feel overloaded in your marriage, this is where communication is key in talking to your spouse about the areas of the relationship this is important to them while you express what’s important to you. Prayer can also show you that need your attention, and you’ll start to see positive developments come to the surface to take over the roles that you need to give the most attention by replacing bad habits you have formed in your marriage with good ones.

Another key element for marriage, no matter what your spouse’s love language is, is to give frequent words of affirmation to those things your husband/wife does well. You obviously aren’t doing a task in your marriage for the recognition, but I’ve found one thing to be true in my own marriage and that is if you tell your spouse how much you appreciate them or what a great job they did on a task, they are more likely to continue to try for you and work harder.

When a spouse goes unrecognized or underappreciated, discontent sets in overtime and people start looking outside the marriage for the affirmation they miss at home. If you have kids, you are also setting the tone with them to be appreciative to Mom/Dad for all they do for the family. We tend to affirm kids more than our spouse but it’s as important. In the movie A League of Their Own Tom Hanks is trying to talk Geena Davis out of quitting the team. He asks her why she is quitting, to which she responds, “It just got too hard.” His response is, “It’s supposed to be hard; otherwise everyone would do it.”

Being a player is hard! Getting out of your marriage does not mean that your life will be easier.

Knowing your gifts, roles and understanding how to use them in your marriage with constant communicate with your spouse helps you to get better equipped so that you know that you are fulfilling your Godly calling in your relationship.Talk Show host Dr. Phil has been quoted as calling this your “Authentic Self.” It’s doing things with your talents, gifts and an ability that makes your marriage stronger is your true self and if you aren't using them you are not being authentic.

Find out more at themarriageplaybook.com

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