“He went out and bought a new computer even though we just went over the budget last week!”
“She constantly undermines my parenting right in front of the kids!”
“I want to go to California, but he wants to use all our vacation to visit his family in Wisconsin – in WINTER!!!! All we do is argue and we never decide anything!”
“We just kind of started living together because her lease was up, and now here it is, 5 years later, and I guess we should get married. Isn’t that what you do after you’re together for that long?”
The above are examples of couples having difficulty making clear decisions. The resulting situations are obviously different – sometimes overt conflict, sometimes confusion, sometimes anxiety – but it all results from problematic decision-making.
But what about positive relationship decision-making? What does that look like? Do you do it?
In my ongoing focus on healthy relationship characteristics, let’s look in depth at what particular things you pay attention to if you are a couple with good decision-making skills:
- You know that your partner has just as much right to make choices and decisions as you do
- You recognize and accept that all “big decisions” (related to finances, jobs, kids, family, etc.) need to be made jointly
- You are dedicated to positive communication when making decisions
1. You speak respectfully and without blame
2. You recognize that there is no “right” or “wrong,” just different ideas of ways to handle things
3. You are willing to compromise
- You recognize that personality differences or ineffective relationship patterns may be what is holding you back from making the best decision
1. You work to understand these issues rather than blame or coerce your partner to your side
- You attempt to make decisions based on values rather than just practicality or what “makes the most sense”
1. Value-based decisions hold more meaning
- All parties accept and take responsibility for the decision that is made, including any negative outcomes that result
So how are YOU at making decisions?
Honestly, this is a difficult skill! And when I think about major decisions – career changes, buying a house, where to send a kid to school, how to handle a problematic family member – where there is a lot on the line, I don’t think anyone gets it right the first (or even the 2nd, 3rd, 4th……) time through. Emotions often play a major role in why decision-making breaks down, which is exactly why a dedication to the skills above is so important!
I firmly believe that effective decision-making is something that any couple can learn and effectively include in their relationship “toolbox.” If you struggle with decision-making or there is one decision in particular you need support with, contact us or schedule an appointment today with one of our therapists. We look forward to speaking with you!