Feeling Like a Team in your Relationship

Shannon Oliver-O'Neil, LCSW Therapist, Supervisor of Interns, Art Museum / Fairmount Office Manager

Posted by: Shannon Oliver-O'Neil
LCSW Therapist, Supervisor of Interns, Art Museum / Fairmount Office Manager
267-428-2610

A good relationship allows each person to feel supported, and that they and their partner are on the same team. Each person can trust that their partner is invested in the relationship, and taking concrete steps every day to create the shared vision they have for a future together. Couples who are distressed by the amount of fighting between them often lack that sense that their partner is on their team. The following exercise is one small way to begin rebuilding that sense of being on the same team and mutual support.

 

Step 1: Interview

You and your partner will interview each other using the questions below.

 

Think back to when you began to be invested in our relationship: what’s something I did to let you know we were on the same team?

When you’re with your friends or family, what’s something they do that makes you feel special, included or like a priority?

 

If these two questions escalate the two of you into a fight, that’s ok! Sometimes when one or both people have felt unimportant or unsupported for a long time, it can be hard to discuss without blaming or feeling upset.  If this is the case for you or your partner, you might consider booking an appointment with a couples therapist to continue the conversation. Having a neutral third party can fast track the healing process, and makes each person slightly more accountable.

 

Step 2: Plan

Assuming the first set of questions didn’t lead to a fight, on your own, think about the information you gathered from your interview. What kinds of behaviors make your partner feel special, included and important? Do they prefer being told using words? Getting small tokens or other gifts? Acts of service that can make their life easier like making them lunch or cleaning the house? Do they like affectionate touch like hand-holding or a kiss on the cheek? Do they enjoy quality, distraction-free time with people?

 

Use your information to think of two small, specific actions you could take over the course of the next week to make your partner feel like the two of you are on the same team.

 

Your partner should do the same on their own.

 

Do not tell each other what you plan to do. Instead, write it down on a piece of paper or on a note in your phone, and keep that private for the week.

 

Step 3: Implement

Do the two actions you planned to do for your partner.

 

Step 4: Reflect

At the end of the week, get back together with your partner. See if you can guess what two small things they did to make you feel special. Together, reveal which actions you took.

 

Then answer the following reflection questions together:

What did you like about the tasks I chose for you this week? If you didn’t like them, what could I have done differently?

What was it like to try to choose something to do for me? What made it harder or easier for you?

What was it like to try to guess what I was doing for you?

Describe one moment during this week when you felt connected to me.

 

This is an exercise you can repeat every week for a month as you continue to build a sense of support and teamwork within your relationship. If you would like to further deepen your sense of teamwork, consider booking an appointment with a couples therapist. They’ll be able to provide you with an in-depth assessment of your relationships’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as exercises to help you continue growing together.