By Coleen York
Ever have to work on a project with someone in school, or college, or even at work?
I’ve been there. And at first (before you know what a group project REALLY means…) you’re excited about it. Obviously if more than just you is working on it, it’s going to be SO MUCH easier! And you’ll have all this extra time for, you know … activities and stuff.
But when you start actually working, you slowly begin to realize that you’re the only one in the group who’s actually working. Or maybe the rest of your group IS working … they just, well … their efforts are rather unfortunate compared to your standards.
As a perfectionist, after a few years of group projects, I began to see them for what they really were: a ploy to get me to do everyone else’s work. Sure, I would, at times, allow my group to do stuff, and occasionally (after much nagging and hyperventilation on my part) it would be done on time. And sometimes I didn’t even have to redo it, but usually I did. Mostly because of something stupid like spacing that would cause my eye to twitch and some hidden OCD part of my brain to explode.
Group projects were the cause of much stress and anxiety over the years. I took on all the responsibility of something that was designed for joint ownership. Group projects are much more work and much larger than individual projects. Ahem, that’s why they are given to more than one person. Unfortunately, when you don’t trust your group members to hold up their end of the deal, you feel alone. Like all the responsibility is yours. And then resentment builds…
You probably see where I’m going with this.
The group project mentality can carry over into far more than just school or workplace assignments. It can carry over into your relationships, engagements, and ultimately your marriage.
Relationships (and obviously marriage) were designed for more than just you and the way you think things should be done. If you find yourself taking over and resenting your significant other later, ask yourself why.
Is it because you don’t trust them? Do you not trust them because they are untrustworthy? Or do you not trust them because you are relying on yourself and have issues dropping control?
I’m going to take this back to pre-school … You cannot have a successful relationship if you cannot share. I’m not just talking about toys now. You have to be able to share EVERYTHING. Your money, work, emotions, feelings, space, time, talents, dreams, hopes, food, fears, struggles, and RESPONSIBILITY.
It’s scary to come to terms with. But the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 that “Two are better than one for they can help one another succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? (NLT version).”
God designed relationships and marriage. He designed them so that we could help each other succeed, encourage one another, and fix dinner when you’re running late from work. Having a relationship is the ultimate group project, one that cannot and will not succeed unless both parties are pulling together and assuming equal responsibility.
That means no kicking back and letting them do everything because they are an OCD control-freak. That also means not becoming an OCD control-freak and stealing all the responsibility from your counterpart while making them sit the bench because you think you can do it better than them.
From personal experience (and I’m still going through this process as well), I would recommend letting your significant other know your tendency (whether it’s to kick back or take over). Chances are they’ve probably already picked up on it. Honesty is a great place to start so that you can work on it together. Talk through your expectations (whether they are realistic or not), and ultimately, pray it out.
Control is something that we all struggle with from time to time. But it’s important to remember that the WHO who created you and created relationships is in control of it all and is in it with you. And there’s never been a group project where He hasn’t done His part & then some.
“Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 2:12)
Remember it’s not just you and your significant other in this group. God’s in it too.
Don’t leave Him out.