Anthony and Heidi Eck drive a truck together. Not only do they drive a truck together, they enjoy doing it. For some people this may seem risky. Spending 24/7 in the cab of an 18-wheeler for weeks is not for the faint-hearted. Some would say, “Don’t we work so we can have some time to ourselves?”
Anthony and Heidi would tell you that while it may add complications, it is also very rewarding. They get to do something they really enjoy, together, and depend on someone they know very well to help them in the process.
Anthony and Heidi drive team, but sometimes Heidi stays home while Anthony drives by himself. When asked what it is like to go from driving as a team to driving by himself, Anthony says that he likes when Heidi is with him because they operate so well as a team. He explains, “The day goes so much smoother and work gets done faster, than when I am by myself himself.” He adds, “We discuss everything together.”
I wondered about the everyday grind of over-the-road driving because my family lives in Colorado, a twelve-hour drive from Springfield. There have been times when my wife and I completed that drive without talking for six of the twelve hours. There have also been times where we argued and had to keep driving. Even so, we knew we would get out of the car in several hours and have the space to cool down.
I wondered what happens when your career depends on driving with your spouse, and you cannot leave the vehicle if there is an argument. How do you set boundaries and open lines of communication so both your business and relationship thrive?
Teamwork is the Name of the Game.
If you read any marriage self-help book, usually the overarching theme is communication. It is no different in this scenario. The only difference is that in close quarters the rules behind a couple’s open communication needs to be defined.
In a regular scenario, if a couple is having an argument, one partner can go in the other room or take a walk. In the cab of a truck, there is nowhere to go. Practicing timeouts are very important, as well as knowing when the other person just needs a breather.
Guidelines to Develop Your Teamwork Ability
Here are some other simple guidelines to help you develop teamwork with your partner, regardless of whether you drive together or work as a team when you are home.
1. Support: Know what support means to your partner, even if they do not say it out loud. Often, this can be a simple gesture such as “Hey, I do not know what you need, but I can tell something is wrong. If you want to talk about it, I am here.” It can also be as explicit as, “It looks like you need me to drive for another hour so you can take a nap.” Whatever it may be, knowing that you have your partner’s back and they have yours, creates a trust and confidence enabling you both to be successful in whatever you do together.
2. Respect: It is okay to disagree. It is even okay to argue, but conflict is best handled with respect and kindness. My wife and I disagree all the time, and I am not afraid to tell her I think she is wrong, yet I try to say it with love. Respect goes a long way when you are trying to communicate a point on an issue that your partner may not want to hear.
3. “Let it roll off your back”: Exhaustion, hunger, and too much caffeine can take a statement that didn’t carry any ill intent into a full-blown argument. Its times like these where it is better to let it go, to let it roll off your back. If your partner is having a bad day, grace during these times is so helpful to a happy productive team.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate: I do not think I can be any clearer! The worst argument and fights happen because we think someone meant something that they did not mean, but we never asked them or talked to them about it. Ask them. Ask them again. Tell them how you are feeling. I tell people all the time in counseling, OVER COMMUNICATE!
Ask any coach or manager—they’ll tell you that teamwork requires work, effort, intentionality. It’s not always easy. Sometimes it downright difficult, but the benefits of perfecting teamwork or substantial and rewarding. Just ask Anthony and Heidi. They’ll tell you.
Drew Dilisio is the Community Support Specialist and Counselor at Good Dads. He is a recent graduate of Evangel University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, a husband and father. He can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.