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The biggest and most-watched sporting event of the year has hit America again – the Super Bowl. It is the ultimate convergence of popular culture and athletics. From the star-studded halftime show to the multi-million dollar commercial time slots, the spectacle is unprecedented in sports. Two football teams have worked and endured injuries since early summer to achieve their mid-winter dreams.

But what does this have to do with marriage? What do marriage and football have in common? Winning the Super Bowl of relationships (marriage) requires some of the same things required to win the Super Bowl of football. To win the Super Bowl, football teams must be focused on some key fundamentals of the game.

Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi started every season with a team meeting and the same speech. Surrounded by veterans and rookies alike, he would hold a football high above his head so that each player could see it. With all eyes on him, he simply said: “Gentlemen, this is a football.” In only five words, Lombardi communicated his point – We’re going to start with the basics and make sure we’re executing all the fundamentals.

nflIn marriage, it’s not enough to simply hope your marriage will be a life-long success. You must know the basics and make sure you are executing all the fundamentals of a great marriage. So, here are three fundamentals that can help you win the Super Bowl of relationships. To help you remember them, just think NFL.

N – Nurture a Shared Goal for Your Marriage

Everyone on the football team wants to win. They have a singular focus. They are committed to moving the ball in the same direction.

This shared goal and focus is a major ingredient of being a “team.” Dr. Howard Hendricks, a noted author and speaker, said that one of the things he learned from working with the Dallas Cowboys was the importance of the team. “When you are on a team,” he said, “you play off the strengths of your teammates. You don’t tackle the guys who wear the same color uniforms.”

To win the Super Bowl, football players work as a team. They help each other do their job. They double team and cover for each other. They work at getting along with each other on the field and off the field. When there is discord between players or coaches there will be trouble on the playing field. Discord blurs your vision of the goal.

To win the Super Bowl of relationships also requires a shared goal and a singular focus. An old man was asked why he chose his wife to be his wife. His response was, “She was the one I wanted to grow old with.” That’s a singular focus.

What is your goal in marriage? To have your own way? To win all the arguments? To have your every need met? Selfishness destroys football teams and marital teams.

Jesus spoke about the marriage goal…

“Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Oneness – Unity – Bonded – Lasting a Lifetime.

F – Fight for Your Marriage

Expectations are high at the beginning of the Super Bowl. Each team is confident that all will go their way. There will be setbacks – fumbles, interceptions, quarterback sacks, and penalties. The opposition will try to keep the other team from gaining yardage, scoring touchdowns, and ultimately from winning the game. There are people on and off the field fully committed to making sure the other team does not win.

couple-hugging_canstockphoto7194135aOur marriages are worked out on the pressure-cooker fields of our lives. We have more than our share of daily stress. On top of career demands, there is a spouse to love, kids to raise, and perhaps aging parents to care for in their golden years. Marriages have been blown apart by unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations, unfortunate circumstances, and unwise choices.

You have to fight for your marriage daily. It begins with an all-out commitment to each other. Your marriage is bigger than any issue. You will stand together no matter what (or who) is lined up against you. Why? Because you promised.

A research study of more than 5,000 couples by the National Survey of Family and Households found that two-thirds of unhappy married spouses who stayed married reported their marriages were happy five years later. Researchers found that the couples that endured and overcame problems in their relationships found the strength to persevere because of their intense commitment to their marriages.

No marriage is perfect, but what are you going to do to protect what is good about your marriage from whatever opposition is coming at you?

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
(1 Corinthians 13:7, New Living Translation)

L – Listen to the Coach

Winning football teams pay attention to the coach. He makes the rules. He gives the instructions. He knows what must be done to win. Even the greatest quarterback needs input from the coach. They need an outside perspective. A great coach knows it is about the team, not about him/her.

Who is coaching your marriage? Whose rules are you following? Who do you go to for an outside perspective?

Jesus is our marital Head Coach. He knows all about how to have successful relationships. His Word, the Bible, is our “play-book.” This is where the strategies for the game are written. There are offensive and defensive strategies. In the Bible, you find the dos and don’ts of a healthy relationship.

  • Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Confess your sins to each other. (James 5:16)
  • Don’t grumble against each other. (James 5:9)
  • Do not lie to each other. (Colossians 3:9)
  • Encourage one another. (Ephesians 4:32; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; Hebrews 3:13)
  • Honor one another. (Romans 12:10)
  • Love one another. (John 13:34)
  • Offer kindness to one another. (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Pray for each other. (James 5:16)
  • Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)
  • Teach and admonish one another. (Colossians 3:16; Romans 15:14)

Our marriages are won or lost on our ability and willingness to carry out the coach’s game plan.

Marriage is indeed the Super Bowl of relationships. Winning football teams are unwavering and have an enduring commitment to reach their goal. Are you as determined to win the Super Bowl of relationships?

Discuss: What are some other fundamentals of football that would help you win the Super Bowl of relationships?