Last week, we began a two-part series on balancing your priorities in marriage. We discussed what unbalanced priorities can look like in marriage, and we began sharing tips on how to start getting your life into better alignment. If you missed that post, you can read it here.
To briefly recap last week’s post, the first two things you and your spouse can try doing to get your priorities in order are to open a dialogue about the issue, then practice empathy as you begin to explore it. Showing understanding to one another will go a long way toward helping you work through this as a team.
More Tips For Rebalancing Priorities in Your Marriage
Now, let’s continue with a few more tips you can use to analyze and communicate about priorities with your spouse.
3. Make private priority lists.
Consider making private lists of your spouse’s perceived priorities. These are not meant to be shared with one another, but instead, destroyed after you’re written them down. This is a good place to put all your “You always…” or “You never…” statements, since those tend to be counterproductive during a conflict.
Write down what you believe your spouse’s priorities to be. Analyze them as objectively as possible, and consider whether your perception reflects the truth, and if not, what your spouse’s stance might actually be.
This is where you can privately dump your hurt feelings, and maybe even your anger. Think of this part of the process as an exercise in processing your feelings toward your spouse and the situation without bringing the full blast of your emotions into a conversation with them.
4. Make priority lists to share and discuss.
Once you have processed some of the messier thoughts and emotions surrounding your situation, it’s time to create priority lists to share and discuss with one another. First, address the conflict. Then, you can expand out to priorities in general if you want.
If the priority in question concerns time or money, for example, make lists of your top priorities when it comes to time or money management. Then, sit down together and find where you have common ground. Where there are clashes, you’ll need to figure out how to constructively address them and come to a mutual agreement.
In addition to individual lists, you could also make an overall priority list as a couple. Identify and write down areas where you share common ground first. Then, slowly work your way toward the issues in question.
Finally, it’s time to negotiate your priorities as a couple. Using empathy and the information you’ve uncovered in your lists, begin gently addressing whatever issues you’re facing. Be patient with one another as you’re working through these discussions, because addressing priorities in an intimate relationship can quickly lead to hurt feelings.
No one wants to feel belittled or accused. Chances are, if you’re already in a healthy relationship, you both want what’s best for your marriage. Remember that you’re on the same team as you move forward. And if you need help, don’t hesitate to connect with a licensed professional counselor who can help you navigate difficult situations with grace.
Getting healthier yourself makes a healthier marriage.
Sometimes, we need to prioritize our own wellbeing in order to be our best selves in our marriages. Our book, Healthy Me, Healthy Us, is a guide to help you focus on becoming a healthier person all-around so you can relate with your loved ones in a more constructive way. If you believe getting healthier might help with balancing priorities in your marriage, you can pick up your copy here.
How have you reset your marriage’s priorities in the past? Would you change your approach to solve a future conflict, and if so, why? Let us know in the comments.