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Hello! This is the first relationship principle in the series Improving Couple Relationships.

#1: Recognize that both of you are on the same team

A relationship is definitely a team. Team members work together to achieve goals. The primordial goal of a relationship is to embark on an infinite journey of giving and receiving love. In a relationship, we strive to make the other partner happy and fulfilled, and of course, forever in love with us. Think back to when you first started dating your partner. You may have thought about what restaurant or movie they would enjoy for the first date. They may have reciprocated that same consideration by giving you a gift that you truly cherished. This is the first goal of being in a team in the relationship. Each partner is working towards actively loving their partner and demonstrating their love in ways that the other can receive it.

In our relationship team, we are secondarily focused on achieving mutually agreed upon life goals and aspirations, such as raising a family or buying a house together. We can also be focused on smaller goals such as learning to peacefully communicate with one another or learning to forgive each other. When we agree on what to do, we get to work on achieving those goals with ease. It’s when we don’t agree with our partner, that conflict ensues and we doubt their love and commitment towards us.

Often, couples forget that they joined the same team in order to support each other. Team members do not always think the same as each other. The beauty of the team is that the diversity of strengths and weaknesses amongst the team members will support the team’s goals better than if the team members were to do it alone. It is advantageous when a team generates a variety of opinions because there are multiple ways to tackle a given problem.

Many people become jaded towards giving teamwork a second chance. Perhaps, the other partner has hurt us with their actions many times or has constantly ignored our opinion in conversation. These feelings are allowed and are valid. In the process of improving couple relationships, partners may still exhibit problematic relationship behaviors as it takes time to change habits and beliefs. This does not necessarily mean that the other partner does not care about you or the relationship. Improving a relationship is a continuous learning process where mistakes are par for the course. It is up to each team member to determine if the other partner is committed to improving the relationship and correcting negative relationship behaviors.

To restore teamwork to the relationship, we need to go back to the primary goal of the relationship. Are we focused on loving the partner and helping them to feel loved? Are we willing to accept when our partner offers feedback on what we have done wrong? Are we committed to the continuous journey of learning and growing together in the relationship? When both partners can answer “yes” to these questions, the first principle is achieved.

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