01/22/2015 02:10 pm ET Updated Mar 24, 2015

Be the MVP of Your Relationship

I began this year by giving a workshop on relationships. As I opened dialogue with my audience, of both men and women, I asked, "Who's willing to take on the challenge of becoming the MVP of your relationship?! The first thing I heard was from a woman who turned to her husband and said:

"Yea Babe, why don't you take on that challenge?"

Her husband groaned and said,"Dr. Donna, REALLY?! So soon in the year you want to start with this relationship stuff?

I replied, "Yes, Yes, YES! How difficult can it be?"

The truth is... it's as difficult as actually becoming the Most Valuable Player of any team. Relationships are a lot like sports, you need to be an athlete to maintain them. They are complicated, have rules (sometimes even the rules have rules). They require athletic persistence, determination and fortitude. They require vision, bravery, an honest attempt to be the best you can be and acknowledgement of fumbles along the way. Most importantly your attitude must include the desire for a winning season.

We first need to look at players in the "Relationship Game" and identify what makes for the perfect athlete. We all have strengths, and with that being said...we all have weaknesses. It is this combination that gives us our winning team along with our MVP.

What we know for sure is that there are two kinds of players that no one wants on their team, the one who never does what they're told and the one that only does what they're told. A "MVP" is a free thinker that is focused on a successful season. Before the season begins, definition of positions need to be agreed upon and supported by all players. In relationships this is called "division of labor" and it begins with equal distribution of resources and understanding of responsibilities.

Professional athletes may not get along in the locker room, but out on the field they are adept at working as a tight unit. This holds true with relationships, you may disagree with your partner on many things but the one thing you must agree upon is wanting to make your relationship work. That starts with the three "C's of Relationships": communication, compromise, and caring.

Communication: you need to talk about your feelings. If you don't they will bottle up and spill out at the worst of times.

Compromise: focus on what you both want, not what you don't want. Relationships are all about compromising. When two people get into a car, they must agree on the destination and how to get there, who the driver and passenger will be, and at what point they will switch off.
Caring: You need to care about your partner. You need to care about the relationship and desire it to be a healthy and happy one for both parties. There are two people in a relationship and as important as it is to express your feelings and concerns is as important as respecting your partner's feelings and concerns.

Sometimes the best play is the one that's not in the book. You've heard of the "Hail Mary" in football. Well, the game of love is filled with them. They're the last minute actions that you take when everything seems to be falling apart, and somehow it's that play that saves the day, or in this case, saves the relationship. Yes, we all want a win. And in relationships MVP's hold three things dear to their heart: respect, truth, and the vision of an everlasting union.
Okay, maybe not everlasting...but until both players decide they need to be traded, or retire.
I recently went to a Celtic wedding service where vows were exchanged in the tradition of handfasting. The vows exchanged seemed to truly express the reality of marriage. I've shortened the exchange to give you the gist:

Will you cause her pain? I May
Is that your intent? No
Will you burden him? I mayIs that your intent? No
Will you cause her anger? I mayIs that your intent? No
Will you honor him? I will
Will you honor her? I will
*To Both*Will you seek to never give cause to break that honor? We shall never do so

This is what relationships are all about. Our initial intent is pure. We are human. We are going to mess up, but if you go into the relationship with an intention to do the best you can do with the resources you have you will be "the most valuable player." Game on!! Changing your thoughts will change your life!

Dr. Donna's weekly blog examines life and equates it with different venues of sports. She talks to her daughters, and all young women, about their role as young wives and mothers and answers their questions and frustrations while equating it to a sport to make her point. Whether it be about dating, successful marriages, parenting, working mom issues, sibling and in-law frustrations, or insecurities about their role as women of their generation, her advice takes on the role as General Manager of the greatest game of all....LIFE.

If you would like Dr. Donna to comment on your relationship or life concerns, you can submit your questions on her contact page of her website at:

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