The key to building loyalty in your marriage

I recently finished the book The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor, and Authenticity Create Great Organizations by Linda Adams, Abby Curnow-Chavez, Audrey Epstein, and Rebecca Teasdale with Jody Berger. Yes, it has a bunch of writers/contributors, and I truly enjoyed and learned much from this book.

We all work and live in the world of teams. Our family just returned from a trip to the Space Center outside Houston, and we saw and heard about the necessity of teamwork in getting a shuttle off the ground. This week my favorite sporting event of the year starts—the NCAA Tournament. No team will win unless they work together.

Whether at work, in sports, or even as a family, we don’t live and operate in a vacuum. Rather we work alongside others, typically striving towards a set of common goals. The authors of The Loyalist Team define a team as a group of people who work toward the same goal and impact each other’s behavior and outcomes.

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The Loyalist Team defines four types of teams and the characteristics that most clearly delineate the less effective from most effective teams. I work at Watermark Community Church as part of a larger staff team and serve even more closely with the smaller marriage team. The book has already impacted the way I think about my smaller team and will change how we operate in a handful of ways.

The most effective teams:

“…trust, challenge, and push one another to exceed expectations. They are loyal to one another, the team, and the larger organization. These individuals work to ensure each other’s success as they work to ensure their own. They run toward tough conversations, not away, and refuse to let each other fail. Team members give honest feedback and support. And regardless of the challenges faced and the hard work required, members of these teams are having fun” (The Loyalist Team, pgs. ix-x).

As helpful as this book is for work, I think it has even greater application for marriage and family. Granted, because I’m a marriage pastor, I tend to think in terms of marriage and family, but the applications seem clear and helpful, especially for husbands and wives.

Think about it (and compare to the quote above). Healthy marriages:

  • Trust, challenge, and push one another to exceed expectations.
  • Encourage us to be loyal to our spouse and family. When you say “I do” you become one with your spouse. You no longer think of the individual, you think of your marriage and your family. See Genesis 2:24.
  • Work to ensure each other’s success and refuse to let the other fail.
  • Run toward tough conversations instead of ignoring them. Time will not heal wounds or marital problems. You must communicate about them instead of ignoring or running from them.
  • Give each other honest feedback and support. In a healthy marriage, you should be able to tell your spouse anything and everything.
  • Are marked by fun. Marriage is to be enjoyed!
  • Function at this level for the long haul, not just for short seasons of time.

The authors suggest a few other behaviors for teams that also apply to married couples:

  • Start with yourself. At Watermark we often say, “Draw a Circle around yourself and work on everyone inside the circle.” See Matthew 7:3-5.
  • Take the high road. See also 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Love doesn’t keep track of wrongs and believes the best instead of assuming the worst about the other person.
  • Put the team agenda first. See also Philippians 2:3-4. Put the needs of the other before yourself. Serve the others in your family instead of putting your needs first (Mark 10:44-45).
  • Own your part in relationships. See also James 4:6-7. Be humble and own your part instead of blaming the other person. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Extraordinary teams are built on extraordinary relationships. So work on strengthening your relationships.

If you want to grow closer to your family, watch THE HEART OF FAMILY trailer here. 

This post originally appeared on and was republished with permission. 

Scott Kedersha is the director of premarital and newly married ministries at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX. He’s a loyal husband and father to four boys.

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