Winning Together: Three Ways to Access the Same Team Mindset in Your Relationship
Remember the rush you felt when you met your partner or went on your first date? It’s like fireworks going off in your heart and that everything in your life is falling into place. As we begin to fall in love, we can’t help but think everything is perfect and nothing in our relationship will change. Then a little thing called time comes into play and slowly we begin to see the changes in our relationship. Some couples navigate this change well, others do not overcome it and their relationship ends. Why does this happen and what do we do about it?
The first stage of a relationship is called infatuation. It’s that Hollywood romance story feeling of falling in love and that you will live happily ever after just from being together. We are optimistically biased towards our new partner, overlooking any concerns and maximizing their strengths and potential in our eyes. Sound too good to be true? Well, it probably is; however, the infatuation stage is just what we need to help us connect to our partner. As the infatuation stage begins to wear off, that is where we start to see this change.
What is the change we are talking about? It is the transition from the infatuation stage to the real stage. The real stage is where we begin to see our partner as they are, our relationship begins to face and feel the stresses of life, and we are faced with the same decision each day — wondering what decision that is? It is whether or not we are going to choose our partner and stay with them. The fact is, relationships are hard work and we must consciously choose to stay committed to our partner and the connection that we have if we want to endure life together.
This change is not impossible to overcome no matter how challenging it might be. We often hear about relationships failing and the pain that comes from it, which taints our beliefs about the viability of them. The more failed relationships we have been in, the more we start to believe it is inevitable that all our relationships will fail. Why does this change have to be so difficult?
The fact is that this change is much deeper than the transition from infatuation to the real. This change is what helps us to see that every day we must choose to stay in love, how we will treat our partner, and what we will give to the relationship. Each day our commitment is tested, we must put in hard work, and we need to choose our partner all within the context of our everyday lives and what comes with that. How do we overcome the odds? How do we keep the fun and energy of the infatuation stage alive in our relationship for the long-term?
As a couple, we have two mindsets that we can take on together. The first is the Opposite Team Mindset, which means we see our partners as a competition. The times that we have conflict will be when the Opposite Mindset is most apparent. If our relationship is operating with this system, our arguments are littered with yelling, disrespect, insults, gripes from the past, blame, and us wanting to score a win for ourselves. It probably won’t surprise you that couples working from this mindset are not likely to make it.
The Same Team Mindset is what it sounds like, as a couple we strive to work as a team so that we win together. We face each day together, working through our problems to find agreeable solutions and making sure to meet one another’s needs for connection and security. Our relationship takes on a life of its own, blending our unique views and personalities into a strong, team-oriented connection. We approach our relationship realistically, recognizing that we will not always agree or get along but that this does not have to spell doom for us.
Couples that integrate the Same Team Mindset into their relationship see reasons for hope, remain and express their commitment to one another, seek to find solutions together, and encourage the growth and development of each partner. It blends the passion and fire of the infatuation stage with the knowledge and maturity of the real stage. We see the best in our partner and lift them up where they struggle, and they do the same for us.
There’s something we need to know right up front; the Same Team Mindset is easy to read about but hard to put into practice. It means at times setting aside our needs for our partner or the needs of the relationship, working hard, sacrificing, and at times working through uncomfortable things like conflict. We also have to trust that our partner will be doing the same thing! However, when it becomes our approach to our relationship, the benefits are unbeatable.
When we use the Same Team Mindset, each person in the relationship works on growing individually as well as a couple. Personal interests and goals are encouraged, and often feel even better because of the support we have from our partners. Both your partner and you get to contribute your unique strengths and qualities to the relationship, bringing about your team’s unique story. You both get to reap the rewards of your hard work and commitment to one another and move through your life with a trusted friend.
Creating the Same Team Mindset in your relationship will not happen overnight, but there is no better time to start than now! If we do not take the first step, then we are no closer to getting there. Work with your partner to implement the following three ideas to help build the Same Team Mindset in your relationship now. There is no better feeling than when we get to win together rather than lose alone!
Team Building Strategy #1: Stop Keeping Score
One of the quickest ways to end the Same Team Mindset in your relationship is to keep score against your partner. What does it mean to keep score? That’s when we keep the mental list of times our partner has let us down, didn’t do something, said the wrong thing or didn’t say anything at all. We hold onto this list until an argument comes along, and then it goes from being a list to our weapon of choice and we unleash.
The problem with keeping score is that it creates more disconnect, tension, stress, and pain than anything else. It keeps the focus off of ourselves and puts blame on our partner, which is only going to put them on the defensive. This list that we keep is incredibly biased and does not take into account the full character of our partner. A lot of what is on the list they may not even know was there and it was our insecurity or disappointment that put it there.
Once we start keeping score like this, we get into the habit of doing it. When it becomes a habit, we are now looking for reasons to be upset at our partner and looking for where they have let us down or fall short. In other words, we form tunnel vision and look for only where our partner falls short, missing the many things they do for us and what they give to our relationship. I’m sure it is not hard to see why that is a nasty cycle, but guess what, it can get even nastier!
It is not uncommon in relationships where if one partner keeps score, the other starts to do it to help defend themselves. Now we have each partner justifying their behavior and tearing their partner down, leaving both to wonder how the divide the size of the Grand Canyon got there. Of course, because we are keeping score, it is somehow our partner’s fault.
The truth is as soon as we start to keep score against our partner, we are no longer acting as a team. A true team looks for ways to build one another up through maximizing strengths and helping each other overcome challenges. Working as a team requires commitment, trust and respect for our partners, it is at the core of an Empowered Couple. Keeping score undermines these core values of the Same Team Mindset and will pull your relationship apart.
If you find yourself keeping score, take some time to ask yourself these questions and truly contemplate them. What is keeping score doing for myself, my partner, and our relationship? Why do I feel the need to keep score? When has keeping score worked for me and what was the outcome when it worked? If we were to put these issues out in the open rather than hide them on lists, what would change in our relationship?
Keeping score is a dangerous game to play in our relationship. No one wins this game and it is likely to end in the demise of your relationship. Couples with the Same Team Mindset want to win together rather than lose alone. Keeping score is one way to lose alone, is it worth it?
Team Building Strategy #2: Give When it is Needed
There is a common belief out there that a relationship should be 50/50 from each partner. The truth is, that does not work out, and at times that is where keeping score can start. With everything life can throw at us and the stress it likes to pile on, maintaining 50/50 in a relationship is just not feasible. There are going to be times where you are giving more than 50% and times where your partner is giving more than 50% and there is nothing wrong with that.
A couple working with the Same Team Mindset is not worried about the percentages when it comes to how much they give. A partner does not stop taking care of the other and say “your turn” as soon as the gauge reaches 51%. Relationships with the Same Team Mindset understand that each person has unique needs and wants that fluctuate in important and necessity based on time and circumstances.
A core principle of an Empowered Couple using the Same Team Mindset is that each partner gives what is needed to the relationship when it is needed. This is a mutual agreement that is for the benefit of all. If there are concerns about how much is being given, it is discussed openly and steps are taken to resolve it. Otherwise, each partner is in it for each other and is willing to delay their needs getting met when there is a more pressing need present.
Why are people in this type of relationship willing to do this? Quite simply, they believe in the idea of what comes around, goes around. If they treat their partner well, help them when it is needed, and work on the relationship in positive and productive ways, their partner will return the favor. If they keep score and hold grudges against their partner, they will get that in return. The choice is yours, and your partners, of course!
Team Building Strategy #3: Face the Opponent Together
The Opposite Team Mindset makes the opponent in our relationship our partner, which means for one of us to win the other has to lose. The sad reality is, both lose when this is how we approach conflict. As an Empowered Couple using the Same Team Mindset, we stand together as one and face our opponents together. Does that mean it will go swimmingly each time or that we will always get along? Of course not! It does mean that instead of making bigger problems for ourselves by turning our partner into an opponent, we work unitedly so we can move forward together.
What opponent are we facing? It can be anything like stress, finances, disagreements, in-laws, friends, time, work, or any of the other million things that life can throw at us. As we face these opponents as a team, we strengthen our armor to the hits that life can throw by strengthening the connection we have with our partner. This reinforces the Same Team Mindset in our relationship as we come to see our partners as an ally to get through challenges rather than being an obstacle themselves.
What does facing our opponents together do for our relationship? It opens our lines of communication, increases empathy and understanding, increases the compassion we have for one another, brings gratitude into the relationship, and replaces the belief of “we can’t” with “we can!” We set aside our lists that keep score, heal from our past relationships, see our partner for all they are and what they do, and increases the likelihood that we will give to our partner with no strings attached.
Empowered Couples access the power of the Same Team Mindset to continually strengthen their relationship. Each partner actively chooses to care for the needs of one another and the relationship as a whole and willingly does what they can to meet them. Putting in the work with your partner to work as a team means that instead of losing alone you will win together. Start implementing the three team building strategies below to empower your relationship with the Same Team Mindset!