• Sam

Marriage is Like Football: Quarterback


Famously, a Hall of Fame Defensive Lineman once said that his game plan was simple, “Meet at the Quarterback.” Thus did he backhandedly point out the importance of the Quarterback. So-called because, way “back in the day,” the Quarterback was one-fourth of the way back from the center, with the Half Back and Full Back filling out the Backfield. But, over the decades the Quarterback became the most important position on the field.


The Quarterback’s job is marvelously central and complex. He must hold many things in his mind at the same time. He must know the game plan, see the whole field, be able to handoff, pass, or run with equal aplomb, all while not panicking when being pursued by huge, strong, agile athletes who see him as their meeting point.


Let’s look at these duties through the lens of partnership.


First, the QB must know the game plan . . . he must have a clear understanding of where he is, where he is going, and how he plans to get there. Our partners need to know that we have a firm grip on reality, that we know where we are going as a couple, and that we have a reasonable plan to get there—together.


Next the QB must see the whole field. After the QB breaks the huddle, he will always scan the field before taking the snap. Then, once he receives the ball from the center, he must constantly keep scanning the field, looking for opportunities and threats. Our partners need to know that we are aware and attentive, looking for things that present opportunities and threats to the relationship.


After the Center, the QB is the only player to touch the ball on virtually every play. It’s his job to get the ball into the hands of the so-called “play-makers.” If it’s a handoff, the running back is not looking at the ball, he’s looking for a hole in the line. He is operating on feel and it’s up to the QB to put the ball into his hands. If it’s a pass, the QB’s job is to put the pass in a place where the receiver can catch the ball in stride. In short, part of the QB’s job is to set up his teammates for success. We need to do this for our partners, but the ball where our partners have the best chance to receive it—set our partners up for success.


Finally, once the QB receives the snap, he is surrounded by chaos, action, and threats. The best QB’s don’t give in to panic. They keep their heads, even when all seems to be crashing around them. Our partners need to know that we can be calm in the midst of the storm, that we are focused on creating the best opportunities for their success, and that we are willing to take a hit in order for them to succeed.

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