Have you ever watched Driving with Women ?
My husband would probably agree that I’m about as difficult to take out to dinner as the woman in the video.
We’ll excitedly buckle up our seat belts and back the car out of the driveway while he asks what I’m in the mood for, and nine times out of ten times I’ll say the same thing: “I don’t know, what about you?” Then, of course, he’ll make three suggestions and I’ll wrinkle my nose at every single one of them.
For me, part of the process of figuring out what I want is figuring out what I don’t want. To my husband this looks like I’m simply not willing to express my own opinions immediately, and it can drive him crazy. But it’s a dynamic we’ve learned to navigate over the years.
But that’s just the little stuff. When it comes to big decisions, I have no shortage of heated opinions (and make no qualms about blabbing them). Over the course of our marriage we have made several big moves, several job changes, been in school and out of it, and have added children to our family. Through all of the twists and turns, we’ve learned a lot about how to make decisions together. But it hasn’t been an easy road.
One of the hardest parts about any marriage is going from the complete independence of only having to look out for yourself to suddenly having to consider someone else’s needs and perspective too. Usually, this requires a lot of compromise and that’s certainly been true in our case. But the cool thing is, since we’re both committed to compromise neither of us feel like we’re getting run over. We’re both willing to give as much as we take, and the result is a partnership in which we are actually better together than we are apart.
The way my husband and I have decided to make big decisions in our marriage is to consider the whole thing to be an equal partnership. That means he doesn’t demand I go along with his whims just because he’s the male, and it means I don’t emotionally manipulate him to get what I want just because I’m female. We’ve found that listening to each other with total respect, even when we disagree, is a much healthier way to function.
We’ve learned to talk openly about the pros and cons of every choice, and we’ve even made lists of the two on paper together when we’ve felt we needed to actually see the advantages and disadvantages of both options. We talk about what our hopes are, as well as our fears. Both are key to a healthy relationship, but can make us feel uncomfortably vulnerable at the time. Often we also seek out the advice of others that we both trust, knowing that they’ll have valuable insight for us to consider.
Right now we are on the verge of yet another move, and it’s all too easy to question whether it’s the best choice. But knowing that we put in the hard work of considering it together gives me a sense of safety. Since we made the decision as a team and neither of us coerced or guilt-tripped the other, we know that no matter what happens, we’re in it together.
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