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April 26, 2022

Making Joint Decisions in Your Relationship When You’d Rather Not

Decisions are tough to make when you’re single. They’re doubly tough when you’re a couple. Toss in a little conflict and they can feel downright impossible. 

And it’s no surprise that you don’t agree. If you subscribe to the idea that we marry our opposite- it’s actually a little more complicated than that, but let’s just say we marry our opposite- it makes sense that each of you will see things differently. 

What’s a girl to do when there’s a decision to make and you’ve got to make it jointly, but you’d rather not because it never goes well? 

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that you just need to be open to his point of view- which you do. And I’m not going to tell you to just compromise- which you also need to do. All of that is really easy to say, but it’s a whole different thing when you feel he’s completely wrong and vice versa. So, I’ll tell you how to do those hard things. 

Here are 8 tips for making joint decisions when it’s tough: 

1. First, ask yourself, Is this decision irrevocable and will it matter in a year?

This is Uber important because it determines how strongly you need to stand your ground. What exactly are the stakes here? It’s irrevocable if the decision is to have another child. But if it’s about which family you should spend the holidays with, that requires a whole different level of commitment to getting it as right as possible. 

As you ponder this decision, you need to understand the difference between a decision and a choice: 

The decision implies you have the right answer. A decision often is longer standing, more solid, black and white, and has longer repercussions. Sometimes you feel clear and that’s fine. Other times it feels scary because you may not feel a hundred percent. 

A choice says this is the option I’m going with. There is flexibility and you are moving in a direction. You can possibly get out of it or you can change it next time. You don’t have to be a hundred percent sure, but you’re not staying stuck or paralyzed in indecision. There is more brain space for growth and movement. It feels less anxiety provoking. 

As you are processing together, ask yourself if you need to make a decision or a choice. 

2. Each of you states clearly what options are off the table?

The only things off the table should be when you have a “not over my dead body” kind of reaction. Everything else should be on the table. 

3. Be honest about your motivation.

Let’s be honest. Sometimes we’re not honest. If you don’t want to have another child and your husband does, don’t say it’s because you’re concerned about your finances when it’s really that you are stretched to the brim and can’t possibly imagine adding another child to your mix. Maybe you feel blaming it on finances will make you look better or will be better received, but what it really does is get you off track and you will be going down a rabbit hole and he’ll be trying to solve a problem that doesn’t even exist for you. This gets you nowhere fast because if he feels he’s resolved it and you’re still digging your heels in, you both feel completely disconnected and you’re moving away from intimacy and damaging your communication- besides, you’re not feeling understood because he can’t understand you when you’re not being honest. You’re still not getting to a decision. 

4. Pray and meditate on it – either together if your relationship has space for this or apart.

Give yourself time and don’t make any decisions quickly if you don’t have to. 

Giving yourselves arenas to make your own decisions builds trust and provides healthy space and a sense of compromise in a relationship. 
5. Give yourselves autonomy to make unilateral decisions in areas you each don’t care about.

This is huge and makes life easier. You don’t have to make every single decision together. Only the ones that are important to both of you. Giving yourselves arenas to make your own decisions builds trust and provides healthy space and a sense of compromise in a relationship. 

There are certain areas of our home and our lives that I care nothing about- except that they are taken care of and my husband doesn’t need to consult me to make a decision about those. I trust him completely and don’t care enough about whatever he does. So I just need to be informed, not consulted. But this is not the case with other areas and vice versa. And we are each super clear on which areas these are and we move accordingly. 

6. Ask for a quick gut check before you even get started on decision-making.

Often our first response is the best response and it gets warped and blurred the more we engage with it. Write down gut responses and do your best to respect intuitions. If I say, I have a gut feeling about this, I expect my partner to give that more weight than if I say, “I just want to do this.“

7. Don’t strong-arm it.

It may be tempting and it may even get you to a decision faster, but manipulation and force don’t wear well on long term relationships over time. These tactics will erode and undermine the beautiful foundation of your relationship. Not worth it. Take the time to work through the decision together. 

8. If he is strong-arming you or making unilateral decisions, Clearly say, I’m not in agreement. I can’t endorse this decision.

Make your decision clear. If he bulldozes ahead and it doestn’ work out, no I told you so’s. Believe me, he remembers your lack of endorsement. If you hold in your I told you so, you strengthen your relationship and build trust in him for your next big decision. You may find he’s seeking your advice. 

 If you hold in your I told you so, you strengthen your relationship and build trust in him for your next big decision. You may find he’s seeking your advice.

At the end, you have to say- I trust us.

That is a powerful statement. I trust us. Remind yourself of the choices you have made as a couple and you’ve probably made at least a few good ones. Even more important is to remind yourself of how you’ve made even not so great choices work and you’ve come out okay. I know a lot of you don’t believe this and may feel terrified to say this to yourself. Maybe deep down you don’t trust your spouse. Maybe deep down, you don’t trust yourself. Maybe your little mind gremlin reminds you of all his and your shortcomings. 

Tell her where she can go and remind yourself every day. 

I trust ME. I trust US.

You’re not trusting yourself to be always right. No one is- so that’s not going to happen and that’s okay. You’re trusting yourself to make the best choice you can in each given moment and you’re trusting yourself to make the best of those choices. 

“I respect your decisions, I am trustworthy with my decisions, and I communicate through our decisions.” ~ Tony Robbins

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