Living Collaboratively with Your Spouse
As the wise King Solomon long ago wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
Two are better than one. For if one falls, the other will lift him up; but if one falls alone, there is no one to lift him up. When two lie together, they warm each other; but one alone, how can he keep warm? If one is attacked, both can stand up against him; and a three-fold cord cannot be quickly broken.
Think of a marriage between a man and a woman when reading these verses. A couple can help one another to accomplish what one person alone cannot. If you suffer, your spouse is there to help you. When you taste success, it is your spouse who most like was your greatest cheerleader and supporter.
I call this type of marital synergy – the great collaboration.
In marriage, collaboration is about negotiating on what you each need to flourish as human beings. So, with your partner helping you and you helping your partner in life, a synergy is created for the two of you to flourish as an individuals and a couple. Collaboration is a win-win in your marriage.
Too often, we think of autonomy and collaboration as antagonistic, i.e., if the more you have of one quality, the less you have of the other. You may worry that collaborating with your spouse will endanger your autonomy. On the other hand, you may worry that being independent depends on never “giving in,” which is what collaboration can feel like.
In healthy marriages, couples can maintain the tension between being collaborative and independent. They can be collaborative without their independence being threatened and they can be independent and work collaboratively with their spouse without feeling that they are being used or taken advantage of.
King Solomon dubs the marriage as a three-strand cord. What do we account for the third cord if two are assigned to the husband and the wife?
The three-strand cord is a picture of the power that takes place when two people agree for something in line with God's will for them. As two people become one in agreement with each other, there is a tremendous amount of power they can experience. Then when you add the Holy Spirit as the third strand, your marriage is not easily broken. You can toggle in and out of collaboration and independence for the best outcome of your marriage. You can have such fun in your marriage when you begin to agree with each other and the Holy Spirit.
Do you know that God did not put you together to be miserable? He didn't put you together to fight, pick on each other or try and change each other. In our counseling/coaching practice, we rarely hear couples say, "You know what? I really enjoy my husband” or “I really enjoy my wife.” God wants us to enjoy each other. He wants us to have fun and laugh together, to collaborate and draw out the win-win results.
I think most people would agree that a collaboratively marriage isn’t going to just “happen.” It’s going to take some give and take. And more than anything, having a collaborative relationship is going to require being committed to doing things God’s way.
Marriage is a collaborative process. We need each other to bring out the best in us. As much as we try at times to pretend, we don’t need one another, we really do.
Mother Teresa said, ““Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
That’s a tall order, isn’t it? Living collaboratively with your spouse – The Great Collaboration – would be a terrific start! We are pretty sure that King Solomon would agree!