Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
Even making small decisions such as what to do on Saturday night or what kind of Pizza to buy can cause some couples a big problem. Some couples describe that decisions are painful because neither person is decisive whereas other couples can get into major power battles because both partners want to be the General!
I always ask couples about their patterns for how conflict gets started. It’s usually either the complaint resolution process or the decision making process that trips people up. If you and your significant other sometimes have a disagreement that escalates into conflict during the decision making process, then I have some ideas for you.
Here is the process that I recommend for a decision that has two possible outcomes. For example, you might have to decide “do we move to a new house or do we stay in our current house?” Or, “do we start our child in kindergarten this year or next year?”
Most of the time, when there is conflict it is because one partner discusses all the reasons to do one of the options and the other person camps out in the alternative viewpoint.
In these types of decisions, do this:
- Promise one another that you will listen to each other’s thoughts and feelings about each possible option with the intention of being influenced by your partner. Not with the intention to only think about your own viewpoint.
- Each partner should talk about all the pros and cons of one of the options. (*Notice it helps to hear your partner discuss possible pros and cons, making them appear more reasonable and not having already made up their mind without hearing what your ideas are).
- Then each partner should discuss all of the pros and cons they see for the second alternative option.
- Next, each partner should discuss which decision they are leaning towards and why. The other person listens and shows respect for their partner’s thoughts and opinions.
- Each partner should now say how important this decision is to them on a scale of 1 to 10. Sometimes, if it is difficult to make a decision, partners might take turns deferring to their partner’s leaning if the decision is about something very important to their partner but less important to them.
- Now, if you don’t have to make a decision right away then set a date in the future when you will come back to discuss further. Agree that in the meanwhile you will think about and consider the other person’s viewpoints and thoughts.
- Finally, meet up a few days later after having time to think about the decision. See if you can agree on what the final decision should be. Keep in mind that you might sometimes defer to what your significant other thinks the better decision is, with the understanding that sometimes they might defer to you on a decision that is very important to you…
In a future blog post, I will review how to make a decision about something that has many possible outcomes.