How you make decisions in your marriage has huge implications for the success of your marriage. According to John Gottman’s three decades long study of over 3,000 marriages, 81% of marriages where one spouse makes most of the decisions end in divorce.
If one spouse has a “my way or the highway” approach to almost every decision in the marriage, from where to eat to how often there is physical intimacy, it makes it difficult for the other spouse to offer ideas. Eventually the other spouse becomes a “doormat” who feels oppressed. Over time the couple loses their emotional and physical connection until they are living different lives in the same house. Affairs and financial mistrusts occur and the dead relationship ends up in front of a divorce judge.
Who Makes The Decision?
Take some time and have you and your spouse complete this exercise seperately. For each of the following questions, write down who makes the decision most of the time: You, You in Consultation With Your Spouse, Both of You, Your Spouse in Consultation With You, Your Spouse, or Neither of You. Honesty strengthens this exercise.
Who makes the decision in the following areas?
- Where to live
- Who will do what chores
- What we do on vacation
- What job your spouse takes
- When to do household chores
- What job I take
- Time spent with my spouse’s family
- Where we go on vacation
- Who my friends are
- If we have children or how many
- Time spent with my family
- Rules for disciplining children
- How we practice our faith
- How much time we spend together as a couple
- How often we have sex
- Time spent with my spouse’s family
- Who my spouse’s friends are
- How much time we spend as a family
- When we have sex
- How much time we spend separately with friends
- What we do when we have sex
- How many hours my spouse works
- How we spend money
- How many hours I work
- How much money we need
Now total the number of times you answered each of the categories: You, You in Consultation With Your Spouse, Both of You, Your Spouse in Consultation With You, Your Spouse, or Neither of You. Areas where you marked Both of You, Your Spouse in Consultation With You and You in Consultation With Your Spouse are your strongest areas. Answers where you marked either You, or Your Spouse, or Neither, are areas with growth opportunities.
Strengthening Your Marriage’s Decision Making
No one person gets their way all the time. And no spouse should make most of the decisions in the marriage unilaterally. The secret to building a life together forever is to make decisions together. Here are some discussion questions to guide the follow up when discussing your results with your spouse:
- What can I do to help us discuss and make decisions better together?
- What can I do to help you open up to including me in more decisions?
- When we disagree about what should be done, how can we work together so that neither of us gets their way most of the time?
Remember that going through this together is about connecting you more deeply and moving each other toward the other. Keep the big goal in mind! If you feel yourself complaining and blaming, becoming defensive, or wanting to move away from your spouse, take a 30 minute timeout and try it again after you both have had time to cool down. If you need a third party to be involved, reach out to a minister, Christian marriage coach or counselor, or a trusted Christian couple who are veterans of marriage in your life.
We love to hear from readers. What would you add to our list of help in the area of decision making? If you tried this exercise, how did it go for you? What happened for you when you attempted to put these ideas into practice in your marriage?
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2015. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.