Relationship Advice: The Me Approach or the We Approach

A husband and wife were doing a little redecorating and rearranging one weekend morning. They were having an especially hard time pushing a dresser through a hall way door.

About to give out, he exclaimed,

"As hard as we push I don't think we'll ever get this dresser out of the hallway!"

To which his wife responded, "Out of the hallway!?! I've been trying to push it into the hallway!"

Sound familiar? Feel familiar?

Working together, or team work if you will, is such an important yet elusive part of marriage. What makes team work so elusive is our tendency to take the me approach to marriage.

The Me Approach

Always taking the me approach greatly undermines any connection with your partner. This is especially true if you are one of those folks who will try to do it their way no matter what.

Here's a few warning signals that the me approach has a hold on your relationship.

*The two of you cannot seem to come to an agreement on almost anything.

*You avoid discussing major and sometimes even minor issues.

*You talk to many people until you can find someone that sees it your way and then use that as evidence with you spouse.

*You find yourself doing things just like your family did and you don't know why.

*Each of you believe your way is not only the right way, it's the only way.

The Team Approach

Many people are on a lonely road due to the "my way or the highway" approach. In marriage, instead of my way, you have got to work on creating "our way."

Here's a few tips for creating the our way - team approach:

*Remember that two heads are almost always better than one. Marriage couselor Dr. Gary Chapman says "two people that are committed to solving a problem will always find a solution."

*Remember that your partner has skills and abilities that you do not have. That's just the way this marriage thing seems to be set up. Honor them and use them. By the way, the dictionary defineshonoring as "to hold in high regard, respect, or esteem."

*Always ask the AWIA question -AWIA stands for "Are We In Agreement?"

*One the the factors that makes the team appraoch difficult is you sometimes haveto give up the right to be right. Easy for some, hard for others. Just remember that often in marriage you can be right or you can be happy, but not both.

*Very few of us marry someone with exactly the same style of doing things that we have. A key step in building a team approach is to "try on" the other person's style every now and then. There is usually a lot to learn.

* Successful team mates (marriage partners) have clear goals about their relationship. They have discussed and are in agreement over what each of them would like to not only get out of the relationship, but sometimes more importantly, what they are committed to giving.

I'll close with a story about a couple I'll call Mr. Neat and Ms. Clean.

Mr. Neat could bath in a shower full of soap scum and not mind at all as long as the towels and soap were neat and in their place.

Ms. Clean can have piles and piles of stuff scattered everywhere, as long as the piles are clean.

The point is that this couple can have either a very neat and clean home or a real mess on their hands, depending on their ability to work together as a team.

Visit for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

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