Thanks to my sister and MOH, Sarah Burton, for her contribution below.
In high school I played volleyball and ran track, and then spent a couple of years coaching volleyball, cheerleading, dance, and forensics teams as a high school teacher. So I’ve set a few goals, hollered a few cheers, lost more than a few close games, and ridden a lot of hours on the activity bus. But the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned about teamwork did not come from an inspirational pep talk, a book on coaching techniques, or quote on a banner in the gym. For me, married life has been filled with opportunities to learn about and demonstrate effective teamwork. Josh and I became Team Burton on November 11, 2006, and we are excited that Anna and Chad have borrowed our “Team” concept (and also our anniversary month) as they look forward to their marriage.
So here are a few lessons on Teamwork and Marriage that I’ve learned. They’re not exactly the most romantic ideas, but they have helped Team Burton establish a strong foundation.
Married Life Lesson # 1 “The 4/7 Rule” We expect to have 4 good days of marriage a week. This may seem like a low expectation, but it leaves room for 1 day of weariness, 1 day of busy-ness, and 1 day of selfishness. If Josh is present and participating emotionally and physically at least 4 days each week, I feel content and secure in our marriage. If we have a week of 5+ good days, we celebrate the sweet unexpected blessing!
Married Life Lesson # 2 “Keep Showing Up” One of my recurring dating traumas before I met Josh was the “Eaten by a Bear” moment, when it became evident that the guy I was interested in had been eaten by a bear. (Otherwise, what possible excuse did that guy have for not calling again?) Josh sometimes jokes that I married him only because he kept showing up! But the world is run (and marriages are enjoyed) by the people who show up. Even if it’s not always your “A” game, bring what you can to the table, and keep trying. Call when you say you’re going to call. Do what you say you’re going to do. Keep showing up, ready to love your spouse, on a daily basis (or at least 4/7).
Married Life Lesson # 3 “Love is the Trump Card” Not every argument can end in compromise. Not every fight can be won, ended, or resolved. So we developed the Trump Card, which can be played at that difficult point in a conflict. Our goal is to remember that we love one another, and that ultimately, our love wins the day. We can choose to stop fighting, even if things are unresolved. This does not mean avoiding difficult subjects or ignoring honest hurts. But we are a team, and we can walk through trials while loving each other.