8 Ways to Be a Good Sport in Marriage
There’s been heated debate over U.S. Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner’s reaction to her low scores, leaving her in 4th place. Pictures of her stunned, disappointed face have gone viral. I’m not here to argue that she should’ve gotten a higher score or that she got the score she deserved. However, I do think this is a great opportunity to talk about sportsmanship.
Sportsmanship, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “fair play, respect for opponents, and polite behavior by someone who is competing in a sport or other competition.” Being a good sport is important to the effectiveness and morale of a team.
Teamwork has been a concept around since the beginning of time, and we could even argue before that, our God is triune – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone,” and created woman. I definitely agree that woman is more than just a teammate for man, but teamwork is essential in a marriage.
Marriage is the ultimate team – it’s two people coming side-by-side, playing by the “rules” of God’s Word, working together for a common goal of R.espect, E.ngagement/Friendship, A.uthenticity, and L.ove to achieve the prize – a happy, healthy marriage, a legacy of love, and eternity with Jesus.
How can you practice good sportsmanship in marriage?
1. Establish rules and stick to them.
A marriage needs healthy guidelines. Follow the Bible. If something doesn’t measure up against God’s Word, cut it out of your marriage. Although there is freedom under the Gospel, if you’re causing your partner to stumble, then you need to seriously reconsider including that “freedom” in your marriage. If your husband “fails to follow the rules,” a.k.a. sins against you, confront him in a honest, but loving way. If you fail, be humble, admit when you’re wrong, apologize, and work to avoid the problem in the future.
“Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching, helping people, correcting, and showing us how to live.” 2 Timothy 3:16
“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” 2 Timothy 2:5
Athletes need to show one another respect in order to function as a cohesive whole. Similarly in a marriage, a husband and wife need to respect one another in order to work together as an effective team. Recognize your husband has different strengths that he brings to the table. Listen to what your husband has to offer without interrupting or judging. My husband is much more receptive to my advice when I share my thoughts in a loving, gentle way as opposed to a condescending, judgmental way. Encourage your spouse in his/her difficulties or weaknesses.
“Let the wife see she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
3. Avoid gloating when your husband fails.
In professional football, “excessive celebration” is a referee penalty call. While I think it’s silly, there is some logic behind this. When a teammate parades around in a prideful manner, the other team is made to feel bad. Same thing applies in a marriage. Saying “I told you so” may be tempting, but this doesn’t build your spouse up. You may feel good about yourself for five seconds, but your husband won’t feel encouraged.
“Don’t rejoice when your opponent falls, don’t be happy when he stumbles…” Proverbs 24:17
4. Don’t get mad; get glad!
Seething in bitterness when something doesn’t go your way hurts you more than your husband. Let go of envy, and be genuinely happy for your husband instead of wishing him ill because you want what he has. Be your husband’s greatest cheerleader. Support and encourage him.
“Each of us should please others for their good, to build them up.” Romans 15:2
5. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
If your husband succeeds and you don’t, it may be hard to be happy for him. When we first moved to Colorado, Adam and I were both out of work. He got a job within three months and a better job in six, and I waited six months for temporary work and two years for permanent work. Initially, I was jealous that Adam got to go to work every day and I was stuck at home. However, I tried to focus on the positive, recognizing Adam achieving a promotion within six months was a praiseworthy feat, and that he was providing for us. Avoid dwelling on the negatives.
“Give thanks in all circumstances.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
6. Don’t play the blame game.
When you both fail, you may be tempted to point the finger. Don’t. Accept responsibility for your part in the failure. Recognize your spouse isn’t perfect, and extend forgiveness, grace, and mercy willingly. Talk about why you both didn’t succeed, and work on a solution together to prevent future problems.
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Proverbs 10:22
7. Watch your body language.
This is what drew heavy criticism of Ashley Wagner. The way you stand, your facial expressions, your tone of voice all communicate to your husband on a level beyond words. Negative body language to avoid includes, but isn’t limited to, eye-rolling, sighing, roving eyes (looking at everything but your spouse), towering over, raising your voice, resting your hands on your hips, folding your arms across your chest, sluggish posture, foot or finger tapping, and turning away from your spouse during conversation.
“While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way…” 1 Timothy 4:18
8. Act like partners.
Make decisions together. Support your husband publicly and privately. Always speak positively about your spouse. Being willing to work with your spouse when you disagree with him.
“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Stay tuned to BHE for 2 new series this spring!
- Mar 3rd – Believing Truth
- Mar 10th – Staying Pure
- Mar 17th – Embracing Peace
- Mar 24th- Remaining Faithful
- Mar 31st – Protecting Your Thoughts
- Apr 7th – Standing on God’s Word
- Apr 14th – Praying Without Ceasing
- Apr 21st – Staying Alert
- Apr 28th – Praying for Marriages
beginning March 5th!