A Man’s Guide to Relationships
My Five Rules of
Football and Marriage – Rule 4
Let’s start off by saying that I am not a licensed therapist or a professional counselor. My observations of my mother and father, who were married for over fifty years before my mother’s death and my own very happy marriage to the same woman for forty five plus years is my only source of expertise. I believe that I have learned some very valuable lesson in that time and feel it is my duty as a fellow man to pass these things on to whoever might benefit from it.
You’ve spent years preparing yourself for the day. You’ve trained, tried out for the team and have been selected. Now what? It turns out that when you were in school and your coach was teaching you the fundamentals of football, he wasn’t just teaching you football but was teaching you the things you needed for creating a lasting relationship. Who knew that coach ‘Earl the Squirrel’ was so damn smart?
Rule #4 – Communication:
The art of getting thoughts, feelings, or information from one source to another, without losing something in the transaction
In football, hand signals, headsets, signboards, huddles, cameras and clipboards are all used for one thing… communication. Without proper communication, the game is over before it gets started.
You are a member of your relationship team. In order for you to do your job properly, you must have the right information given to you and you must relay your information on to the other member of your team. You can’t be expected to carry the game on your shoulders any more than you can expect your partner to carry it on theirs. Everyone on the team has a major role to play, and with each down, the role is different. Sometimes, you will need to stay in the pocket and throw the ball, others, you will need to scramble about in search of making something happen from what seems to be a desperate situation. True, you might get sacked a few times, but you always get back up, talk to your team about what just happened, and start all over.
Just imagine what kind of game it would be if the coach didn’t send in the play to the quarterback or the quarterback refused to relay that information to the rest of the team. No one would know what was happening and chaos would ensue, tempers would flair and fights would soon break out.
The number one problem with most couples is that when they begin to hit a rocky patch in their relationship, all forms of communication cease. It becomes easier to just be quiet than it is to risk making someone mad. So whether rebuilding a relationship or trying to save one, just as communication was the first to stop, it must now be the first thing to start. You can’t solve a problem without communication. I repeat… you can’t solve a problem without talking about it.
This will require cooperation from both sides of a relationship. You can’t begin to repair a relationship until you can talk to each other. Set down with your partner and make an agreement that you talk about anything and everything. I don’t mean that you have to agree with everything they say or even like it. But you must respect them for sharing. If you find that you just can’t agree on something, then you need to calmly and rationally discuss it until you find a mutually satisfactory solution. If the head coach did not agree with a play that the offensive coordinator sent in, he would call a time out and they would discuss it rationally. Sometimes, there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong answer so you may need to call a time out with your partner and agree to discuss it at a later date.
One of the greatest keys to true communication is the ability to listen. The offensive coordinator listens to head coach, the quarterback listens to the offensive coordinator and the team listens to the quarterback and so on. If everybody is talking at the same time, then no information is getting relayed. When you’re in the huddle, you listen to what the quarterback has to say to everyone. If the fullback is supposed to run off your left hip, then you definitely don’t want to block left. So pay the same attention to your partner even when they’re not speaking directly to you. If you hear them tell a friend that they would really like to have Chinese food for dinner; then surprise her with a night out to her favorite Chinese restaurant. Show them that you are really paying attention to the things that they are interested in.
Don’t forget to listen to yourself. Listen to how you talk and how you try to convey your own message. Many times, in a game, a quarterback will use a certain inflection to his voice to try to draw the other team off sides. The words he uses will be the same ones, but the way he says them will have a very different meaning. In a relationship, it often becomes easy to settle into a pattern of communication.
“What would you like for dinner?”
“I don’t care,” or “anything is alright with me.” Is not really communicating, it’s just going through the motions. Too many times we will only reply with a grunt, a nod, or just a negative answer. So pay attention to not only what you say but how you say it. Which would you rather hear?
“So how was your day today?” A good start to any conversation; it shows your interest in their work. Perhaps an even better wording might be something like this.
“How was your day, honey? Did you and Debbie have a good lunch? I know you have been looking forward to spending some time with her.” Think about what you are meaning to say before you say it. Remember, a small compliment will travel a long way.
Rule #4a (Bonus) – Always Maintain Eye Contact:
Words can be rehearsed, but the eyes will always convey the true feelings behind a conversation. In the heat of the game, sometimes there is more information conveyed with the eyes than with the words actually spoken. The same is true in a good relationship. Always…always…always make eye contact with your partner when communicating. This may not sound important to you, but think back to what was the first thing that attracted you to your partner. More than likely, it was their eyes. Perhaps it was just a glance at each other across a crowded dance floor or looking into those ‘baby blues’ as you shook their hand when first meeting them. Remember that old saying, “The eyes are the window into your soul.” Looking into their eyes shows them that you are paying attention and truly care about what they are saying.