When couples come for premarital counseling, we talk about being team players. We give them two assessments to help them gain personal insights and also relationship awareness of strengths and growth areas. PREPARE/ENRICH is the assessment that looks specifically at the dynamics of their relationship. One of the most important things they need to know going into marriage is what they have in common and how are they different. What do they agree on and what are the areas of disagreement? Though there are other factors to consider as well, in general, couples who have similar interests and values are more likely to be like-minded and able to function as a team. No two people see eye-to-eye on everything. Differences keep life interesting and help us see areas where we can learn and grow. Differences help us fine tune each other and smooth off the rough edges. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man (or person) sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
The assumption of PREPARE/ENRICH is that the more the couple has in common, the healthier their marriage will be. There will presumably be less opportunities for conflict the more like-minded they are. In general that makes sense. Perpetual unresolved, unrepentant, and unforgiven conflict will destroy a marriage much like wood rot destroys unprotected healthy wood.
Respectful communication and conflict resolution skills are necessary in order to be team players and protect marriages. Like-mindedness regarding faith in God through Christ as well as like- mindedness of moral values are of immense importance. Often when we see married couples in conflict, it can be traced back to either being unequally yoked or a violation of moral values before or after marriage. These values are: love of God, love of your spouse, honesty, faithfulness, compassion, forgiveness, and holiness. Our values are reflected in our character and behavior. If we say we have a value that we don't live out in our daily life, it is not a value. Rather it is merely a nice ideal.
Like-mindedness does not eliminate all conflict, of course. But if a husband and wife are compatible on the big issues, resolving conflict on smaller issues is less difficult. Communication problems are most often the number one presenting problem for couples. This is probably because it is the safest issue to talk about. It is also a good place to start in counseling. When couples are able to speak kindly and respectfully to each other, often the deeper, more significant issues will emerge.
The secret of being “a team player” is being like-minded on the most important values of life, having common interests, and good communication skills including the ability to share and compromise as needed. Being on the same team applies to all family members as well. Be sure your children know what your life values are and be good examples of how to live them. Do fun things together. Practice healthy communication with your children and teach them respectful talking and listening. Teach them how to resolve conflict through humble, heart-felt apologies, repentance and forgiveness. Teach them compromise through mutual give and take in relationships rather than insisting on their own way. Model what you want them to learn.
Life is challenging. Don't go it alone. Be a team player on a heaven-bound team and speak kindly to each other.