Getting married triggers many major shifts in your world. Married life looks a lot different than single life; now, instead of being the sole master of your own universe, you’re sharing that space with your soul mate. The two of you must learn, together, how to navigate life as a team.
One area of life that changes drastically–and can quickly become very volatile–is that of decision-making. Putting two heads together in order to reach a joint decision that works for both of you can be daunting, particularly if you don’t see eye-to-eye.
Decision-making in marriage is often challenging, but it doesn’t have to result in a war between the spouses. Here are some tips to help you and your husband or wife work together to make strong decisions, peacefully.
1. Be Open to Your Spouse’s Stance
When it comes to making strong decisions with your spouse, it’s critical to avoid shutting one another out. What options are on the table, besides the results you’d prefer? What outcome does your spouse hope to achieve?
On both sides of the issue, make sure you’re not unilaterally saying no to your spouse’s hopes. Doing this will cause his or her spirit to wither, weakening your relationship in the long run. Be generous in your willingness to hear and understand your spouse’s point of view as you weigh your options together.
2. Be Honest About Your Feelings
Don’t be afraid to communicate honestly with your spouse as you go through the decision-making process together. Not speaking up about your feelings, or not getting actively involved in decision-making, may lead you to resent your spouse for making all the decisions (or for making a major decision that was important to you).
3. Examine the Pros and Cons
Have a meeting of the minds to analyze the good and bad points of the decisions you face together. Do the pros outweigh the cons, or vice versa? Discussing your options and viewing them from all angles will allow the two of you to be more objective as you move forward.
If you need to, make a list of pros and cons on paper. Sometimes looking at the words on a page can help you to emotionally detach from a choice that could be detrimental to your relationship or your goals. Having a list can also help you and your spouse to give each point the attention it deserves. Hash it all out–you’ll create clarity for yourselves as you go over each point.
4. Consider Long-Term Effects
Is this decision going to matter tomorrow? Will it have major effects on your life for years to come? Carefully evaluating the potential results of your decisions, as well as how they may affect you, your spouse, or your children, will help you keep things in perspective.
It will be much easier to walk away from choices that you determine to be potentially harmful to your family’s future well-being. On the flipside, you may find it easier to give a little on certain decisions once you’ve determined that there will be no long-term ill effects.
5. Find Ways to Compromise
Whenever possible, work together to create win-win situations to avoid becoming locked in a stalemate. If there’s not a clear win-win, and compromising your wants in favor of your spouse’s isn’t going to cause any harm, then it’s time to think about loosening your grip and giving a little.
The harmony in your relationship is best maintained when the two of you are willing to bend for one another. Ask yourself whether your spouse’s desired outcome–even though you might have a different preference–is going to cause any real harm. Consider how weighty this decision is, and how important it is to each of you.
6. Pray About it Together
Approaching God in prayer together will help the two of you find clarity and purpose as you work together to build your life at every stage. Turning to the wisdom of the scriptures and spending time in prayer, both alone and together, will aid in keeping you united and grounded. Staying in the Word and praying together will also help the two of you guard your hearts against attitudes and behaviors that undermine your unity.
7. Dig Deep
Pay close attention to your gut feelings as you and your spouse approach various opportunities for decision-making. If the idea of a certain choice creates anxiety or apprehension, pay attention to it, examine it, and ask questions to see if you can get to the bottom of its cause. Discuss your gut feelings with each other; perhaps you can calm whatever fears or discomforts you’re having–or maybe you can use them to eliminate unsatisfactory options instead.
Even if you don’t level with your spouse’s gut instinct, take it seriously. If something about an upcoming decision gives you or your spouse pause, don’t ignore your intuition (or your spouse’s!).
8. Seek Genuine Agreement
If at all possible, work diligently to come to a real agreement–one you both feel comfortable with. Avoid forcing your spouse to agree to anything by means of ultimatums, manipulation, coercion, or any other underhanded methods. If you want to strengthen the relationship you have, invest the time and effort it takes to truly reach your decisions as a team.
Most of all, strive to keep yourselves from becoming divided over matters that are challenging to agree upon. While you might have to work hard and invest time in remaining united and at peace, the process of making strong decisions together will keep you connected and benefit you for years to come.