I admit that I am not one to immediately jump to sports analogies for life, but when it comes to marriage, team sports can give us a new perspective into our relationships. Today I am discussing playing offense in your marriage, which is all about the strategy of the game and planning ahead to succeed. Stay tuned as tomorrow I will be discussing playing defense in your marriage. I want to pass along the marriage help and tips we are discovering as my spouse and I journey through this life together. If you want to know why I’m talking about marriage on a parenting blog, I’d love for you to read this post on my heart for the topic.
My husband came up with this fabulous analogy as we were discussing marriage the other day. In most team sports, it takes both a strong offense and defense to win as a team. Without one or the other, there are weaknesses that your opponent can exploit. Offense is all about planning ahead, being proactive, making plans, goals and setting strategy and then executing those plans. The internet seems to agree that Benjamin Franklin is the source of a great quote: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This applies to so many aspects of life, sports and now, marriage. Like any great team, or single athlete, you need to plan in order to succeed in marriage.
Marriage is not easy. I am guessing that is part of the reason you might be reading this article in the first place. It takes work. It takes selflessness. It takes cooperation.
In sports, your opponent is right there with you, on the field or the court, and you are plainly aware of your role of offense and defense at any given point in the game. In marriage, our opponents are not always immediately apparent. They are most definitely NOT your spouse. This is a critical concept to understand and claim. No matter what you may be feeling, you need to claim your spouse is not the enemy, or opponent. You opponents are many other things. These are all sinful characteristics that separate us from God and our spouse. It requires a purposeful offense to repent of our sins and run toward God and make a great offensive plan to pursue our spouse in a virtuous way. Marriage is one of the most important pursuits you make in life, so let’s make plans and plan for success.
Playing Offense in your Marriage
The heart of the offensive approach is love. Love is a choice. It is sacrificial. It means putting the other person’s needs above your own. In preparing for this mentally, try and consider the other person’s perspective before jumping in with your own. Ask yourself, what would my spouse want me to do right now? How would they want me to act? What would make them feel loved right now, this week, this year, this….?
Knowing their love language, who they are and how they communicate is extremely helpful. Through past experience, you probably know what sets them off in a conversation versus what is successful in terms of approach. If you don’t know, you will need to figure it out. We all have a choice to either push their buttons or speak in love. For example, if you know your spouse experiences love through physical touch, it would feel loving to them to lay your hand on their leg in the conversation. This simple touch shows them that you are on their team and thinking of them. If your spouse is filled up through words of affirmation, make sure to begin a conversation with praise. It’s always good to sandwich difficult components with compliments. If you know your spouse is someone who needs time to process things, give them space before they need to have an answer. This all comes in love – putting their needs above your own. “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
Offense through action
Now that you understand a bit about your spouse, and you are planning to have positive interactions with them with a humble attitude, you can start putting your plan into action.
Your spouse is not your enemy. Again, keep in mind that your spouse is your teammate rather than an opponent. The opponent in marriage is a sin nature and the lies that our culture can sometimes impose. I will address our sin nature, but some other opponents might include: busy-ness, work stresses, family conflict, or even friendships that get in the way. One phrase my husband and I have clung onto after our time at Weekend to Remember is “Your spouse is not your enemy.” Most likely, your spouse is not out to get you. They want your marriage to succeed. They married you because they love you and want to make it work. That said, you both bring baggage and sin into this marriage, so there are going to be times of selfishness, pride and hurt. Other sinful characteristics that can steer you in a negative direction can be selfishness, pride, apathy, sarcasm, lust, malice, jealousy, conceit…this could be a really long list. Choose to pursue the characteristics of Godliness. The fruit of the spirit are these characteristics outlined in Galations that reflect a life in pursuit of Holiness. Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Put these things into action right away! How can you be more patient with your spouse today? How can you show them love? Can you be more gentle with them than you have been? How can you choose joy in my life today and spread that joy to my spouse?
Offense through conversation
Another aspect of marriage offense is how to approach your spouse in communication. When you are the person on the offensive, you may well be the one who is initiating conversations with your spouse. They may not be the easiest subjects to broach if you have a painful past, a negative relationship pattern or ignorance toward your relationship. Whatever your current situation, plan to approach the conversation in LOVE.
Talk to your spouse, trying to understand them before you seek to be understood. This can be achieved by asking genuine and not accusatory questions. Often times, when you ask the right questions, what you thought needed to be addressed does not need to be talked about at all. You discover their heart behind their actions and can just move forward without further conversation. You may have interpreted their comment through your own life’s context and thought it was much more negative than they intended. I can do this a lot. I have my own stresses in life and those often color my interpretations of what my husband is actually saying. My patience may already be razor thin and that doesn’t put me in a great place to exhibit grace and ask good questions.
Timing and approach are as important as content. Timing is key because for many, starting a hard conversations under pressure, stress, or simply late at night might not be a good idea. Right when your spouse walks through the door after work could be another example of bad timing. I have had to really work on this because I cannot sleep if I have something on my mind. Therefore, my preferred timing isn’t always my spouses. Approach is important because it dictates tone of voice, word choice and body language. I have found that when I seek a conversation with my husband and am careful about both timing and approach, the content is received 10 times better. The more you are able to have successful and productive conversations, the more trust you’ll built with each other and the easier it is to approach them without having to time it perfectly.
Are you starting to develop your plan for your marriage? Will you pray today that God will show you how to be the spouse He has called you to be? I certainly hope so. Marriage is a lot of work but it is worth every bit of the effort! Just remember that when playing offense in your marriage, approach your spouse in love. We will talk about the defensive approach to marriage tomorrow, so check back.
More Marriage Help
I hope this offensive approach to communication with your spouse has been helpful. I will follow tomorrow with the defensive approach, which will address how to receive your spouse in communication. If you want more helpful thoughts on marriage, please visit this article: