Did you know that the same traits we admire in sportsmanship exist in good marriages? Spouses who want to keep their relationship growing nicely can pick up a few ideas from Chicago Cubs outfielder, Jason Heyward, and manager Joe Maddon. Many give Heyward’s inspiring World Series weight room speech credit for restoring his team’s spirits up after their several-run lead against the Cleveland Indians had dwindled to a 6-6 tie in the eighth inning.
Staying Hopeful When Faced with Obstacles
This happened on November 2, 2016, when the Cubs hoped to win game number seven and earn their first World Series title since 1908. Chicago had lost three out of the first four games to the Cleveland Indians. So they needed to win three in a row to earn the title. No team had come from being behind 3-1 in a World Series since 1985, when the Kansas City Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals.
In this last game of this year’s seven-game series, Cub’s fans were on pins and needles as they watched their team’s early lead fizzle into a 6-6 tie during the eighth inning. The light drizzle then turned into a downpour that forced a 17-minute game delay.
Who knew how things would turn out? Would someone mess up a key play by slipping on the wet turf? How would the delay affect Cleveland’s batter’s momentum or Chicago’s closing pitcher Aroldis Chapman’s stamina?
Lesson for Marriage
As it turned out, Cleveland’s offense fell short of the Cubs’s. The Cubs’s third basemen, Kris Bryant did slip, but only after fielding a slow roller which he fired across the diamond to first baseman Anthony Rizzo for the final out of the Cubs’ thrilling 8-7 win in 10 innings.
What does all this have to do with marriage?
All marriages have ups and downs. During the trying times, some couples may feel tempted to give up. What happened during that 17-minute break that helped the Cubs finally triumph can also inspire couples to keep their relationship fulfilling.
Regrouping Saves the Day
Many give credit to outfielder Jason Heyward, who called a team meeting in a weight room at Progressive Field, for reviving the Cubs’s spirits and securing the win. He said, “I just wanted them to remember how good they were, how good we are.” He wanted them to “know how proud of them I was and that I loved them. That I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”
Looking around the room, Heyward said that every single one of them had played a part in bringing the Cubs to this point. He reminded them that they had gotten this far as a team. “Lift each other up,” support one another, and play for one another. “I told them everyone has to look in the mirror, and know everyone contributed to this season and to where we are at this point. I said, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to happen, how we’re going to do it, but let’s go out and try to get a W.'”
After the win, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said it’s really great for the entire team “to get beyond that moment and continue to move forward, because now…we have an opportunity to be good for a long time, and without any constraints, without any of the negative dialogue.”
Getting Beyond the Moment in Marriage
Even in the best marriages, we all have our moments, times when we’re tempted to give up. The Cubs’s mood could have sunk to despair and caused them to give less than their best efforts after Cleveland’s strong offense had erased their early lead.
Coach Maddon stresses the need to move past negative dialogue when it occurs and Heyward helped the team do just that.
Cognitive behavior theory explains how our thoughts influence our actions. In marriage and in other relationships, by noticing when negative self-talk is occurring, we can change it to supportive messages, by recognizing our invalid thoughts and looking at the big picture, remembering all of each other’s fine qualities that initially attracted each other, which we still value. We are, in effect, regrouping — similarly to what the Cubs did, inspired by Heyward’s speech in the weight room.
To Create Winning Team, Regroup, Restore Optimism
Heyward reminded players that everyone of them is a valued contributor to their team’s success; that each one had helped the Cubs get to this point.
Like good teammates, spouses should remind each other how wonderful they are, which helps keep them feeling good about themselves and each other, regardless of the ups and downs that all marriages experience. At least one heartfelt compliment a day can go a long way.
In marriage, as in baseball, if you think of yourselves as a winning team, you will believe in and support each other, accept the ups and downs of life and marriage, regroup as needed, and keep moving forward.