Why would a marriage maven be writing about a baseball team? Living near San Francisco, how could I not get caught up in the hoopla? The Giants beat the odds again on October 29th, claiming their third World Series title in five years.
“How do they do it?” the pundits ask about this so-called team of misfits. And what does it have to do with marriage?
Actually, just about everything.
The Giants’ post-game interviews are enlightening.
Madison Bumgarner, named Most Valuable Player in the World Series, acknowledged being tired, but only after it was over. Three days earlier, he’d pitched nine innings, shutting out the Kansas City Royals. That’s considered insufficient rest between games for a pitcher. Yet he was brought in during the last game’s fifth inning with no expectation for him to stay until the end.
Asked if he had been hoping to finish the game, Bumgarner said he wasn’t thinking that way. “I was just concentrating on pitches …and on getting outs.” He’s a team player. He stays cool and focused by setting aside his ego and personal preferences to do what his team needs.
Manager Bruce Bochy said he had thought Bumgarner might wear out after a short time. He was probably tempted to check in with him occasionally. But he decided not to risk cramping Bumgarner’s style. He gave him space to do his job.
In marriage, too, we need to respect a partner’s need for space. We all need enough space to function well in marriage, and in other relationships too, whether personal or professional.
When “the Panda,” Pablo Sandoval, made his World Series winning catch, he joyfully fell down on his back, fists raised and feet spread out in the air. A gaggle of teammates pulled him up to join their rush to the mound. In a good marriage, partners share joys as well as challenges, and celebrate. When one is “down” the other is there to pull him or her up, at least metaphorically. Good teammates do the same.
Pitcher Ryan Vogelsong said about Bruce Bochy, “He believes in me.” He said this wasn’t always true of managers of teams he’d played for earlier.
Madison Bumgarner said, “I’m thankful for our team believing in me and letting me stay out there.”
The Giants regularly decline to accept individual responsibility for victories. They credit each other and the whole team. I am impressed by their humility.
Also, in a good marriage partners believe in each other and appreciate each other.
Madison Bumgarner, with an incredible 0.25 earned run average in this World Series, rides the ups and downs calmly. He stays the course for the long haul, focusing on one pitch at a time and one out at time, while tens of thousands of banner-waving fans in the opposing team’s home stadium are screaming, “Let’s Go Royals!”
Like baseball, marriage has ups and downs. We succeed in marriage by setting aside our ego, which requires humility, in order to respond well to challenges. Like Bumgarner, we ignore whatever threatens to distract us from keeping our relationship fulfilling.
Marriage meetings keep us focused on what’s important to our relationship. They keep the lines of communication open.
The Giants don’t have marriage meetings, but they do hold pre-game and post-game meetings to plan, strategize, review, and inspire. Communication is essential for good teamwork in baseball and marriage.
Marriage meetings keep us connected. They foster teamwork, romance, intimacy, fun, and smoother resolution of issues. Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted provides guidelines and step-by-step instructions for conducting the meetings and for customizing them to fit your situation.
The Giants and their fans are like great marriage partners who inspire each other synergistically. This is what we want in real-life marriage, so that we can say, as they do: “Together we’re Giants!”