Being a Team in Marriage

To me, the most beautiful thing about marriage is that it instantly lays the foundation for teamwork. Notice that marriage does not instantly create a fully-functioning, healthy, and established team… It only builds the framework for what could be a healthy team. I consider the second most beautiful thing about marriage to be the act of building that team. If you are interested in becoming a team with your spouse and developing teamwork in your marriage, this is for you. Developing teamwork in marriage takes work!

Being a Team in Marriage: developing teamwork in your marriage | Grace Upon Grace Today

When my now-husband and I were going through premarital mentoring with a couple from our church, we mentioned how our small group had recently spent an evening discussing marriage. We were disappointed that the general consensus from the evening was that marriage was difficult and challenging. I expressed my disappointment to our mentor couple that there was no rejoicing in the beauty of marriage, but rather, commiseration in the challenge of marriage.

Our mentors responded along these lines: “Yes, marriage is hard, but it is good, because it is two people working together towards the same goals.”

When two people commit their lives to each other, they make the decision to fight for the other person’s best interests. In that way, they are therefore taking care of themselves, since in marriage, the couple is now one flesh. In addition, a couple following after God has chosen to commit their lives not only to each other, but also to their Lord and Savior. His glory becomes their goal.

My husband and I have the joy (and sometimes headache) of working together: we are teachers at the same Christian school. Literally, our occupations involve working towards the same goals: for our students to be well-educated and to develop relationships with God and with each other.

Additionally, outside of our careers, we have taken the words of our mentors to heart. We have chosen to seek the other’s goals and best interests, so we can not only honor each other, but also live out an enjoyable marriage. For example, my husband chose to do the household chore I hate the most. It doesn’t cost him any extra time (he would be doing something around the house anyway), but it makes me much less stressed to focus on the chores I hate the least instead.

The author of Ecclesiastes writes similarly to the encouragement of our mentors:

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT)

The last line speaks clearly of a good marriage. Not only is there a husband and wife who seek after what matters to the other person, but they also seek after God’s presence in their marriage. With the Lord as the basis for our marriage, my husband and I are stronger and tighter than we would be otherwise. We have the same goal of glorifying Him.

In all these things, we are becoming a team: fighting for each other, fighting for God’s will and desires, and serving Him. We are choosing to work together instead of sowing discord in our relationship.

How is your marriage a team? What can you do to make your marriage full of teamwork and not discord?

How to Survive Your First Big Trip with Your Spouse

Most married couples take their first big trip together on their honeymoon. With all of the happy feelings from the recent wedding, however, couples are more likely to compromise and even acquiesce during the honeymoon. Of course, the bigger the trip, the more opportunities for disagreements. Whether honeymoon or not, this post is for your first big trip with your spouse.

My husband (of three-quarters of a year) and I drove a few hours to the beach for our honeymoon, so I don’t consider it a really big trip. On the other hand, we just recently returned from a long weekend getaway trip to California, though, and it was amazing. Flying over four hours definitely makes that a big trip… One of the biggest you could have without leaving the continental USA.

Here are a few things I learned…

Express Expectations

When I say “vacation,” what comes to mind? Lounging by the beach? Hiking through mountain ranges? Sightseeing and shopping in a busy city? Skiing over snow slopes? Now, what comes to your spouse’s mind?

One of the very things I learned about marriage is that each spouse brings his/her own expectations to the relationship. Without acknowledging those, someone’s feelings are going to be hurt. Your spouse might feel unacknowledged, unheard, or even ignored. A big trip together is no exception.

Ask your spouse some questions, preferably before the airplane tickets have been purchased. Answer these yourself, too! Some to consider might be:

  • What is the one thing you have to do/see while we’re in _____? 
  • What would your ideal day look like once we arrive? Busy? Calm?
  • What is the ideal amount of money you’d like to spend on entertainment/shopping?
  • How important is taking photos to you? Do you want both of us, one of us, or just places/things in the photos? Are we going to be making a scrapbook?
  • How important are souvenirs to you? Who would you like to purchase for?
  • Would you prefer to eat every meal out? Or can we take advantage of complimentary breakfast, an in-room kitchen, or packed meals?

Don’t Assume… Ask!

This is my biggest weakness. Too often, we assume when we should instead ask. I assume that my husband will remember where we parked the car. He assumes that I know what time the reservations are. I assume that he brought his hotel room key. He assumes that I brought my rain jacket. It is truly a never-ending cycle. Instead, ask! I always ask my husband a series of quick questions as we’re leaving our house in the morning, and I did the same over our trip. My usual question is: “Do you have your keys, wallet, cellphone, and wedding ring?” I do this not to be annoying, but for us both to remember the things we need every day.

Similarly, on your first big trip with your spouse, it is important to ask. As I was ordering tickets for a tour this past weekend, I made sure to run the cost and the length of the tour past my husband, instead of assuming that he would want to purchase the tickets as well. Together, we found a couple different tours that we both liked and that fit into our budget well. Without asking each other, we would have missed out on the opportunity to make the decision to take more than one tour.

Have Patience When You’re Irritated

Yes, you will be irritated after five and a half hours couped up in the middle seat of row 34. Imagine how your spouse feels, and let that encourage you to develop patience. When I forget that my sweet husband is tired, too, I end up expecting more and more from him. The truth is that we are both exhausted. We must each do and give and serve, even when we do not want to.

Finally, we finally made it back to our car at the parking garage after our long weekend away. We realized (too late) that we had to pay for the ticket before we could exit the parking garage, instead of paying as we exited. My husband backed up the car and pulled around towards the elevators. “Here,” he said, “You go pay for the ticket while I stay up here with the car.” Now to me, that sounded like a terrible idea. I did not want to get out of the safety and warmth of our car to trek downstairs again and pay for the parking ticket. In that moment, though, I could have served my husband by taking the ticket. (He could have served me by asking more nicely, but that’s another post!) Having patience in moments like these enables your vacation to go much more smoothly and peacefully. You might even want to take another trip very soon!

How to Survive Your First Big Trip with Your Spouse: the latest post from Grace Upon Grace Today about enjoying a big trip with your new husband or wife. graceupongracetoday.com

What enables you and your spouse to travel together peacefully? Share below!

How to Divide Household Chores {Plus Freebie!}

Of all the aspects of married life, one of the most difficult parts of our first few months of marriage was the division of household chores. We got married in June and, as teachers, went back to work at the beginning of August. Suddenly, we both went from working 0 hours per week to working over 40. We had to reevaluate how to divide chores, household maintenance, and cleaning tasks.

I would like to say that I instantly knew how to solve the problems of what I perceived as an unequal division of labor. Unfortunately, that’s not true. I ended up complaining and arguing with my husband about who had to do what. What I should have done was begin a conversation. When we finally sat down and talked about it, I realized that I had no reason to be upset. We were able to solve our problems so easily just by being honest with each other!

Here are my steps to fairly dividing household chores.

How to Divide Household Chores | Grace Upon Grace Today | how to divide chores, how to share household responsibilities in a marriage

Make a List

The first step in your conversation is to make a list of everything that needs to happen on a daily, weekly, twice-weekly, monthly, twice-monthly, and yearly basis. The good news is that I have already done for you in my beautiful chore chart. It is three pages of a variety of tasks. Subscribe to receive it free!

Once we created that list, we were able to see exactly how much had to be done around the house. It was a lot! I felt that my husband and I understood each other’s concerns better when we had a written list. This alleviated the “Why do you never put away the laundry?” complaints.

Assign Tasks and Frequencies

Someone once said that if your spouse hates vacuuming, but can tolerate washing dishes, you should take on the task of vacuuming. It’s just polite and thoughtful. It shows love and consideration towards your spouse, and helps you work together as a team. My husband and I followed this after we had written our list. I do not like washing the hand-wash only dishes, but I do not really mind any of the other chores. My husband signed up for dishes first.

It is also important to consider the frequency of tasks.  How often do you want to change the sheets on the beds? Or take out the trash? Or check the smoke detector? How often should you? Thankfully, I have already done this for you on the chore chart!

Fair is not Always Equal

In an imaginary world, husbands and wives have exactly the same number of household duties that perfectly match their desired jobs. (Or they have a maid!) However, this does not always work out in real life. For example, a stay-at-home spouse should have different duties than a spouse who works full time. If both spouses work equal hours, one should not have more duties than the other. A spouse who has physical limitations should not be assigned the outdoor lawn-care tasks.

Some of this is common sense, but it is important to note that neither the husband nor the wife gets a free pass when it comes to chores. As a team, each must contribute to the cleanliness and safety of the home. Since my husband and I had both lived on our own before we got married, we both felt confident doing our own dishes, laundry, and yard care. I’m so thankful for that opportunity.

Set a Routine

The best way to alleviate arguments over who does what at home is to make the household chores run efficiently. It’s almost like a machine. If I always empty the wastebaskets on Monday nights and my husband always rolls the trash can out to the road on Tuesday mornings, there’s no fuss each week. The key is establishing those routines and sticking to them early in your marriage, and then reevaluating every so often. For example, if my husband studies for a Master’s degree or if I stay home with children, those pre-determined chore assignments might change. In addition, a family with older children might assign certain jobs to their children.

Write it Down

I’m a visual person. It helped me tremendously to write each chore and mark when it had been completed. That’s the beauty of my chore chart: I have already labeled the weeks and months. Just place a checkmark in each box as you complete it. I keep my chart on the refrigerator, but it would also be perfect in your homemaking binder. We’ve been using our copy of the chore chart for over four months, and the fights about chores and duties have all but disappeared.

How does your family avoid arguments about household duties?

After the Altar: Saving Money as Newlyweds

In case you missed it, my “After the Altar” series on saving money as newlyweds concluded last week. You see all the posts below. I hope this series was encouraging to you, whether a newlywed, a single person, or a more-experienced married person.

How to Save Money and Live Frugally as Newlyweds at Grace Upon Grace Blog

Since money is one of the biggest reasons that couples divorce, I wanted to deal with it quickly, both on my blog and in my own marriage. What are some other issues that you have faced in your own marriage? I would love to continue exploring how to make marriages (especially new ones) even better. Please comment below with suggestions or contact me here.

After the Altar Series Recap

Part One: 6 Things We Just Don’t Buy

Part Two: 4 Things We DO Buy

Part Three: 4 Things I’d Like to Stop Buying

Part Four: 3 Ways We Make a Little Extra Income

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How to Save Money and Live Frugally as Newlyweds at Grace Upon Grace Blog