Do you know that frustration you feel when you just can’t get on the same page with your husband or your roommate or your boss or your BFF?
I sure do!
Early in our marriage, Phil and I struggled with togetherness because of laundry. Yes—laundry!
You see, Phil was perfectly capable of dropping his dirty clothes in the hamper, but did he ever do this simple thing? Nope. Most of the time, he dropped his dirty clothes right in front of the clothes hamper.
At first, I tried to handle it with humor. I conducted a dirty clothes protocol seminar in our closet.
I invited him into the closet with me, where I used exaggerated gestures while standing varying distances from the hamper, all the while counting out loud how many seconds it took me to toss laundry into the basket rather than in front of it. Of course, I also pointed out that even though I can’t see, I rarely missed.
It didn’t work. His pile was always right there in front of the basket.
It bugged me at first until it began to really, really bother me. At this point, it wasn’t so much because of his behavior, but because of the meaning I assigned to his behavior. I thought, “If he really valued me, he would pick up his clothes and put them in the hamper.”
Now, are good laundry habits important when you share a closet with your spouse? Sure. But, if or when a spouse leaves his or her clothes on the floor, should the other spouse take it as a personal insult, or a secret message, or an offense? No.
When I look back, I realize there was no “team us” going on for either of us. This laundry battle had turned into “me versus you.” I wanted it my way, and Phil wanted it his way. Neither of us were able to come to the middle—so, this annoying habit became a big stinky deal!
Maybe you can relate. Whether it’s a spouse, best friend, roommate, or close family member, it’s easy to get lukewarm in our relationships. We can all fall into a me-versus-you mentality, but God loves unity. Jesus prayed, “…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you…” (John 17:21).
So, if you’re struggling to find togetherness in your relationships, you’re going to enjoy hearing from today’s 4:13 Podcast guest, Ashleigh Slater.
Ashleigh is the author of two books, Team Us and Braving Sorrow Together. She’s also written for Focus on the Family, The Courage, and Huffington Post. Ashleigh has a Master’s in Communication and loves to combine the power of story with the practical how-to. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Ted, and their four daughters.
And, today, she’s going to help you and me better understand how we can have togetherness in our relationships.
5 Ways to Fire Up the Togetherness in Your Relationship
- Make unity a habit. Unity isn’t something that comes natural to most of us. Instead, togetherness takes practice. You can develop unity as a habit by determining to make your minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, and day-to-day decisions with a long-term perspective. When you find yourself faced with a situation that could result in me versus you, ask yourself, “How will my attitude, actions, and words affect this relationship tomorrow, next week, or next year? Will it help us become a stronger, more united team?”
- See yourself realistically. When the person you’re in relationship with annoys you, remember that you probably annoy them too. Putting your own behavior into perspective can give you more patience for others. So, before you pick a battle over a habit that drives you crazy, step back and evaluate why. Is it simply a quirk you find grating, or does it go against Scripture and is destructive to your relationship? If correcting this habit just feeds your need to have things a certain way, then maybe it’s time to shift your focus to your own heart.
- Sandwich criticism. We all swallow constructive criticism a little better when it’s sandwiched between praise. If you find yourself needing to offer correction or critique, start with affirmation first. Then, share your concerns. Finally, finish up with praise. When you are intentional to recognize and affirm what the other person is doing well, they are more likely to be open to areas you’d like to see growth in.
- View conflict as an adventure. Take a moment to compare conflict to whitewater rafting. Out on that river, it takes teamwork to navigate safely through the turbulent waters. And, once the raft is back on dry land, its passengers are stronger for having conquered the rapids together. The same is true when it comes to conflict in your relationships. When you navigate conflict with someone else with the goal of coming out stronger as a team, it becomes an adventure. It’s a feat you can face—and conquer—side-by-side, not back-to back.
- Choose lightheartedness. Laughter is good for any relationship. The Bible even calls it “good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Lightheartedness isn’t just about laughing together, though. It’s also about having light hearts and living in the joy and freedom that comes with short accounts. You can do this by determining not to hold grudges, harbor resentment, or keep a tally of wrongs. Instead, choose an unburdened heart by extending grace.
Sister, you can start firing up the togetherness in your relationships. Because remember, no matter what you face or how you feel, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover Bible Study
- Invisible: How You Feel Is Not Who You Are
- Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything
More from Ashleigh Slater
- Visit Ashleigh’s website
- Team Us: The Unifying Power of Grace, Commitment, and Cooperation in Marriage
- Braving Sorrow Together: The Transformative Power of Faith and Community When Life Is Hard
- Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the 4:13 Podcast here.
- Were you encouraged by this podcast? Reviews help the 4:13 Podcast reach more women with the “I can” message. Click here to leave a review on iTunes.
What’s one way you plan to fire up togetherness in your relationships this week? Share in the comments below.