I’m thinking of football a lot today because we were recently able to watch a few football games with our sons and their families. We aren’t able to do that often because one son lives in another state and the other lives outside of the country. So it was fun being able to be with them enjoying ANY game with them. Football happened to be the sport of choice.
Our youngest son and his wife left this morning so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. I’ve also been thinking of some similarities between football and marriage. Surprisingly, there are many.
Marriage Like a Football Game?
No, I’m not thinking that marriage is a game. And it’s not a contact “sport” (as it is in football) although being in contact with each other on a major level is an important part of being married. But the major commitment, determination, and the intentionality it takes can hold similarities. And yes, sometimes even the work you need to put forth, applies to playing a good game in football, and also to being a part of a good marriage.
Another similarity I came up with, is that with both you are expected to be a part of a “team.” Those with a singular “I’m in this for myself” mindset shouldn’t enter into either one of these commitments. That’s not how they work.
Below are some additional similarities that come to my mind. (Some of these may overlap a bit.) As you read them, allow the Holy Spirit to talk to you as to how this applies to marriage:
• Commitment is vital!
If you’re not committed, then don’t play, if we’re talking football here. Concerning marriage though, if you’re not fully committed to giving it all you have, then don’t get married. Marriage (unlike football) is not a game. It’s for grown-ups who are willing to do what it takes to make it work. And in marriage, as it is in football, you are part of a team. This is not about doing your own thing solo.
• Team spirit is important!
It’s like the old saying, “it’s one for all and all for one.”
• You’re out to win.
If you don’t think you can do what it takes to help your team to win, then don’t get involved. Or if you aren’t willing to build your skills so you “win” together, then don’t even enter into either football or marriage, in the first place.
• Win or lose, it happens as a team.
In football, the whole team goes down if you lose the game. In a somewhat similar way, within marriage, if one spouse loses, you both lose. How does it benefit your marriage if one of you “wins” at the expense of your marriage partner losing? Even in marriage, if one loses, you both lose. The goal needs to be to strive to find “win/win” solutions for both of you.
• You need to believe you CAN win as a team.
A defeatist attitude will lead to defeat, almost certainly. Trust in your coach (in marriage, it would be God who is to be your “coach”). Look to your other teammate(s) to help you, and don’t give up.
• Take the good skills you have, and keep working to improve yourself.
Do what you can to be an even better teammate. Apply yourself to learning what is needed. It’s those that stop doing this, or won’t apply themselves for whatever reason, that are in trouble.
• This is not about tackling each other.
It’s important to always keep in mind that you’re on the same team. Don’t fight each other. Fight the outsiders who want to take you down. Purpose to work together. You may not always think alike, but you can think together. And you can build togetherness.
• It’s important to keep the passion.
That’s true in football, as well as in marriage. In football, we often hear of teams losing because they just “lost their passion.” They didn’t give it their all. They lost the spirit. They may have started the game out with a lot of enthusiasm, but somewhere along the line, they allowed themselves to lose the vision of why they began playing the game in the first place. It is to win.
Along the same line, (blogger) David W. Jones talks about the passion involved in football and in marriage:
“Comparing marriage to football is no insult. I come from the South where football is sacred. I would never belittle marriage by saying it is like bowling, or playing bridge, never. Those images would never work. Only football is passionate enough to be compared to marriage. With other sports, players walk onto the field. In football they run onto the field. …In other sports, fans cheer, in football they scream. And in other sports, players ‘high five’, in football they chest, smash shoulder pads, and pat your rear. Football is a passionate sport. And marriage is about passion.”
• Sometimes refocusing is needed.
If you lose the passion somewhere along the way in your marriage, then refocus on your goal. Intentionally look towards each other, rather than away from each other. Look for ways to recapture the passion. You can, but it will take intentionality, and looking to God to help you. His very name means Love, so who is better to teach you how to love each other again?
• Pay attention to, and follow the leading of your coach.
They are cheering you on and helping you to “win” as a team. In marriage, the Godhead is your coach. God the Father, Jesus your Savior, and the Holy Spirit, your “Wonderful Counselor” —all three are available to help and guide you.
• Knowing and following the Playbook is vital!
In football, it’s the playbook, that has your “plays” laid out for you. It contains the important things you need to know. If you don’t know and apply what’s in the playbook, you’ll most likely lose.
In marriage, it’s your Bible that will help you to know how to best live together as a great team. The principles for loving each other are the principles for living, which are there for your guidance throughout the Bible. It’s vital to know what’s in it and APPLY what you learn!
• You each have different talents, that combined together, can help you to be a great team.
It’s important that you discover what they are, you combine them together, and use them intentionally, as you should.
• It’s not uncommon to get tackled.
As a matter of fact, it should be expected. In football, that’s what the other team tries to do. They work to trip you up and make you fall so you can’t get to the goal.
In marriage, life often throws the tackles (lead by the enemy of our faith, plus, living in a fallen world). We’re told there will be “troubles” (1 Corinthians 7:28) in marriage, as well as “trials and tribulations” that will come to us in life (John 16:13). It’s what we do with those troubles, when we’re tackled by life, that will make all the difference in the world. We are to get up, sometimes helping each other up. And we are to work together as a team to defeat the enemy, not allowing ourselves to fall to defeat.
• Good communication is important.
You need to be able to read each other’s signals when it’s important. That will take intentionality to learn more about each other. You also need to learn the skills that are needed to work together as a team.
• Sometimes a good “huddle” is important.
If you aren’t working together as you should, or you’re up against a huge obstacle. It’s vitally important to get together and figure it out —who is to do what to improve the situation.
• Sometimes someone gets hurt.
That’s what happens in life. And sometimes, you can even get hurt by your “teammate” accidentally. Hopefully, it’s accidental, if it happens. If it isn’t by accident, you definitely need to work all the more on that one. A good “huddle” may be required, and a whole lot of apologizing and getting back together as teammates, rather than opponents. Sometimes tougher measures are needed if abuse is involved.
• It’s important to pay more attention to what you’re doing right or wrong.
Don’t keep focusing so much on what your teammate is doing. In football, it’s important for the players to depend upon their coach to straighten out the “wrongs” their teammate is committing. It’s not about who contributes more, etc. Team spirit is important, everyone working together, combining their talents for success.
This principle is important in marriage too. Keeping score on each other, can often lead to problems. You aren’t your spouse’s Holy Spirit. HELP when it’s good to do so, yes; but don’t take over God’s job. Focus on what you should do for the betterment of the marriage, and allow God the elbowroom to work on your spouse. You are God’s colleague in helping and loving your spouse. You are not the one who is to take over, and do what He wants to do.
And don’t pull a “Sarah.” She was the wife of Abraham, who essentially seemed to think that God wasn’t doing what He promised fast enough, so she came up with her own solution (see: Genesis 16). As a result, this world has been paying the price ever since. Don’t let your marriage go in the same direction because you get impatient or you think you know how to do things better than God does.
• Keep in mind that you have observers watching you.
In football, the team best not forget that they have a stadium of people watching them. The fans are expecting them to win. The roar of the crowd sure can be inspiring. It’s also important to please them, if the players want to stay on the team.
In marriage it’s a bit the same and yet also different. Yes, there are observers. We have a “great cloud of witnesses” watching us at all times. Some are human, and some are not. It’s important though, to always watch how we walk —how we live our lives. This is so that others, when they see us, may find themselves drawn to want to know our God better, as a result.
It’s God’s good pleasure, though, that we should most desire. We are created by Him and for Him.
• Always keep in mind the goal.
It’s IMPORTANT! In football, it’s what they play for —to get there to score, and score well, at that.
In marriage, our goal is finishing well. It’s important not only that your spouse is pleased, and those who observe how you live “a life of love” (Ephesians 5:1) together, but also that God is well pleased. There could be no sweeter feeling that victory could bring than to hear the words spoken by our Lord, “well done, good and faithful servant.“
Please think and pray about all that is written above. Football is fun, but it sure has its challenges. And the same is true for marriage. It can be fun, but it sure can have its challenges. However, when it is finished well, the rewards are out of this world!
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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