Marriage is a partnership: How to feel confident making important decisions together

A good marriage is about wanting to make life better together. It's a partnership that works best when it is built on openness and sharing.

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  • Collaboration is a critical skill that can improve marriages. Effective collaboration also leads to better decision-making. Collaboration is a social event, it is not something that is done alone; as such collaboration necessitates healthy communication about possible outcomes.

  • Believe that two heads are better than one

  • No two of us sees a given situation in exactly the same way. While that has the potential to produce conflict, if we work together, divergent viewpoints can help lead to better decisions. While collaborators do not always think the same way, real collaborators are always equal partners.

  • In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon counsels: Two are better than one — for if one falls, the other will lift him up; but if one falls alone, there is no second to lift him up. We work better together than separately.

  • Cultivate the same values

  • It will be much more difficult to make good decisions together if you don't share the same values. When you know which principles guide your lives, decision-making becomes much easier. If, for example, educating your children is as important to you as it is to him, then a decison has already been made to make financial sacrifices, attend parent-teacher conferences at school, and follow up to make sure that children are getting their homework done.

  • If both partners believe that staying out of debt is essential, making housing decisions also becomes easier, since both spouses will make decisions that allow them to live within their means.

  • Follow the decision-making process together

  • 1. Identify the problem you're trying to solve

  • On the face of it, this sounds easy, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Make sure you agree that there is a problem to be solved, and then identify and come to consensus on exactly what the problem is. What is the decision you are trying to make?

  • 2. Seek information and discuss your options

  • Make a list of the potential ways this decision could be made. Brainstorm solutions together, and don't rule out ideas that might seem farfetched at first. Talk with parents, grandparents, and friends. Get their opinions. [Remember, these are just opinions]. Ask the advice of trusted professionals, where appropriate.

  • This is your data-gathering phase. It is not your decision-making phase. Don't be tempted to make important decisions too early in the process, but also take care that you don't become overwhelmed with too much information.

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  • 3 . Review the pros and cons

  • Don't skip this step. Discuss how each one of your possible options might affect you, your marriage and your family. For example, perhaps you're trying to decide whether or not to take a new job and relocate. What are the possible consequences of your decision both now and long term?

  • 4 . Make a decision

  • This one sounds like a no brainer, right? Life is about making decisions and choices, so make your choice. But this is a tough one and may cause collaboratoring spouses to feel anxious. What if it's the wrong decision? How will you know? Trust the process, trust each other, and if you're religious, pray about it. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."

  • 5. Examine your decision after implementation

  • Give your decision some time to play out, and then ask yourselves whether or not you made the right one. Remember that none of us always makes the right decisions. Sometimes we simply have to learn from our mistakes to know what works for us and what doesn't. While it's true that some decisions are harder to undo than others, if you've made a mistake, admit it, correct it and don't beat yourself up or blame your partner. Move on.

  • Good partners make good marriages, and collaborating effectively produces better outcomes. Not perfect outcomes, but better ones.

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Read about the power of families to seek after the one in Susan's book: Coming Home: A Mormon's Return to Faith.

Website: http://www.returntofaith.org

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