Playing Offense & Defense in your Marriage

This Sunday is the big game, the Superbowl, and it’s being hosted in my home state of Minnesota. In light of the upcoming game, I found this week’s topic to be very fitting: defensiveness, communication, and playing on the same team within your marriage. It’s so easy to become defensive when communicating with your spouse. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that they are only looking out for your best interest and want what’s best for you and your team/marriage. It took my husband and I years before we finally learned how to better communicate and start playing on the same team!

Communication can be one of the trickiest things! We all grow up learning different ways to communicate, so when we find ourselves as adults, in a marriage, it’s no wonder why communication can be difficult. We are combining our lives with another person who has their own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. We can’t change anyone except ourself, so how can we learn to communicate with our spouse in a way that is healthy yet still allows us to speak our own truth.

My husband and I have been together for over 10 years so we’ve had our share of miscommunication. My husband is a very honest person in the delivery of his communication. He speaks his mind and doesn’t usually think how it will affect the other person. He is honest, without being brutally honest, but also doesn’t sugar coat things either. I, on the other hand, am a person that bases most of what I say and do off of feelings. I mostly observe others while over thinking and analyzing everything I say in hopes that it is not misinterpreted or make them feel a specific way. Which in all reality, I know I can’t control how anyone else will interpret what I’m saying or control how it will make them feel.

There’s nothing wrong with either one of our styles of communication, it’s just who we are as people. It does however, make it more challenging for us as a couple, since we’re on such opposite ends of the spectrum. We used to often get in arguments over miscommunication. My husband would say what he was thinking or I would say what I was thinking and one of us would automatically get defensive and offended because we weren’t understanding what the other was saying.

It wasn’t till a few years ago, when we had gotten in an argument until we finally realized our difference in communication styles. My husband said something, I don’t remember what it was, and I became very defensive and offended by what he said. My husband was so confused how I possibly could have gotten offended by what he said. It wasn’t until that moment when he literally asked me “what did you just hear me say?”, I repeated back what I thought I heard and how I interpreted it. That was it, that was our huge breakthrough moment for communication.

After years of trying to communicate, we finally realized, we weren’t at all communicating in the same terms. What he said vs. what I heard and interpreted what he said, were completely different. We had been communicating differently and misinterpreting each other for years. This breakthrough in our communication together moved mountains for us.

Having the ability to understand that communication isn’t the same for everyone was a game changer. My husband has a much different way of communicating than I do. We are two individual people who were raised differently and taught how to communicate differently. Of course, we’re not just going to automatically communicate and interpret things in the same way.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not perfect. We still have our share of miscommunication and misinterpretation, but at least now we’re aware of it, and we work on it. I don’t believe communication is something you can concur, it’s an ever-changing work-in progress for everyone throughout life. I’m not sure anyone can ever truly masters communication because people are all different and we all change throughout our lives, including our communication.

When you talk with a couple who has been together for 30, 40, 50+ years and ask them “what is the key to a long happy marriage?” I’d just about guarantee, among a few other answers, they’ll say communication. It’s such a huge role in relationships! I believe the difference between most marriages that work vs. marriages that don’t, is lack of communication and misinterpretation. There are so many marriages that end in divorce due to various issues like cheating, finances, lack of intimacy and the list goes on. I will be bold and say many of those issues are due to miscommunication or lack of communication at all. I truly believe that when people feel disconnected from their spouse, that’s what leads to most divorces. Miscommunication is a marriage killer!

I was once listening to a podcast about relationships and they said, remember that you’re on the same team. Hearing this was such a pivotal moment for me. Over the years of my husband and I dating, I never really thought of us on the same team. I would get defensive and misinterpret what he’d say because I was playing on my own team. It took me a long time to realize and understand that my husband and I are on the same team. It’s still something I have to work on at times and remember when we do have our differences.

Through my own insecurities, I would jump to the conclusion that when he said something, I somehow felt that he didn’t mean well by it or that he was only looking out for himself. It wasn’t till I heard the concept of “we’re on the same team” until I finally realized what I was doing. I was always on the defense in our relationship, I took offense easily and always thought the worse instead of realizing that I was misinterpreting what my husband was saying and meaning. I know, and always knew, that he loves me and wants the best for me, so why was I always on the defense.

My husband and I aren’t perfect and we never will be because we’re human, but we choose to love each other everyday. We work on our communication and will continue to do so because we know that is the key to a healthy marriage that will last a lifetime. Choosing to love each other and working to understand one another while playing on the same team.

Remember that, your spouse is on your team, they love you and they want the best for you and that’s why they married you. Don’t live your life thinking you’re on opposing teams because that’s where the miscommunication seeps in. Start playing on the same team as your spouse, instead of being defensive and offended when differences arise between you. That’s what leads to all of those reasons for divorce. Take a step back and realize that they want what’s best for you and start working on your communication with your spouse today!

Have you and your spouse had a pivotal moment like this within your marriage? I would love for you to share!



“Defensive behavior is a barrier to communication.” – Gary Chapman

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