Repeat after me…..
1. My spouse and I are in the same corner. We are on the same team.
2. My spouse is never my enemy. My spouse is never my opponent.
In marriage, you are teammates doing life together. But it’s easy to forget this and instead make our spouse the opponent. Improve your marriage with these practical tips to maintain a same-corner mentality.
Marriage as a Boxing Ring
Picture a boxing ring or UFC Octagon. Now picture you and your spouse in it. One of you is the fighter and the other the corner-man or corner-woman (aka the trainer).
Every day, both spouses will be stepping in the ring to face some real opponents.
1. Stressful work situations
2. Stressful parenting challenges
3. Health scares
4. Financial worries
5. Fill in the blank ___________.
Every day, each partner steps into the ring to battle many issues and opponents. We need to know our spouse is in our corner, cheering, coaching, and encouraging us. When we spend time with them, it should feel like the time between rounds, where a cool rag and insights are provided to encourage us.
Without this same-corner analogy in place, it’s easy to start seeing your spouse as your adversary. When you see them in this way, you begin to verbally punch and counter-punch because you feel the need to win or avoid being metaphorically knocked out.
But no proper boxer maliciously attacks his coach, and no good coach hurts his fighter. Granted, in training in a highly controlled environment, there are training exercises, but it’s not an “I’m going to kill my coach or intentionally hurt my athlete” situation.
How do we transition away from seeing our spouse as the adversary?
When discussing our marriage, either in the Marriage Meeting or informally, the same-corner mentality allows us to communicate truth but soften our tone.
When sharing, you’ll start asking the question: Is what I am saying to help him or her and our marriage OR I am saying this to feel vindicated and to “win”?
When listening to your spouse, start to drop your guarded defensiveness as you remember your spouse is saying this to help you and your marriage. Think of it as coaching, not criticism.
The Challenge of the Boxing Ring Analogy vs. Real Life
In a real boxing match, each team has one fighter and one trainer (plus other support). The fighter can focus on fighting, and the trainer can concentrate on observing and coaching.
But in marriage, it is a player-coach situation. Each spouse must step into the ring daily and do battle. Some days are harder than others. Then the two fighters come home, and that’s when things can get “interesting.”
Here are some potential days of challenge:
When your spouse has a particularly hard fight and might not recognize the battles you are facing, it can become easy to become resentful, to see them as being selfish.
When you’ve both had incredibly hard days or weeks, and you feel like you have nothing to give.
The Key To Same Corner Success: Communicate your Battles
One of the important questions you can ask in the Marriage Meeting is:
What stressors are you facing?
These stressors are our fights. They take physical energy from us. They cause us to worry, to fear, and extract emotional energy.
When your spouse shares their stressor, excellent follow-up questions are:
Why is that stressing you?
Who is the real opponent here? What is the root of the stress?
Stating this can reframe perspectives. These reframing questions are especially crucial to inter-marital communication.
Ask the two questions above if you are receiving a critique that you feel is erring on the harsh side. This response will have a much more positive outcome than lashing back with, “Oh me? Well, you always…”
When you receive encouragement from your spouse, thank them for being your corner-person. Remember, one of the best ways to get repeated action is to catch someone doing something well and praise them for it.
Sometimes we know our spouse is going to have a hard day. Check on your spouse mid-round with a simple text or outreach. “How is it going today? You are in my thoughts and prayers. I love you.”
Remember the Mantra
Try to keep this picture in the front of your mind and watch what happens in your marriage. You will communicate and argue differently with this analogy at the forefront.
Repeat this to yourself:
We are in the same corner. We are on the same team.
My spouse is never my enemy. My spouse is never my opponent.
If you haven’t started your weekly marriage meeting, now is a great time. Grab this resource and get on your spouse’s team.
Let us know how this works for you with a comment.
Amy and I believe there is a larger, ultimate enemy, at war against us. This really helps us realize that we are not each other’s opponents.
These verses reveal that fact:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. — Ephesians 6:12
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. — John 10:10
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. –I Peter 5:8
We believe that this enemy loves to see marriages destroyed because it temporarily appears to thwart the plans and purposes of the Creator. Note, it doesn’t ultimately. Spoiler: God wins.
I heard one pastor say, “If it bleeds, it’s not your ultimate enemy.” (Sorry, Pastor ??????, I can’t remember who I heard say this.)
Praying together can truly help in keeping this perspective in place.