Couples face decisions all the time. They need to learn to compromise, learn when it’s best not to get their own way, and learn when to insist. But when it’s a really big decision and you disagree completely, it can seem like there won’t be a conclusion. It’s time to test our assumptions, ask why it matters, and ask ‘Could I do that?’. 

Making romantic relationships stronger and more enjoyable does involve learning to communicate. Learning to discuss challenging issues and chat through problems is a vital skill to learn and make relationships thrive.

But there are times when you can have very opposing views.

What Should We Do? 

A guy was very recently asking me for some advice because he and his fiancée were having a big disagreement. One of them wanted to move into a deprived area and do voluntary community work with a local charity. The other wanted to serve God in other ways and not move there.

Finding out the other one totally disagreed, was very hard

It was tough for them. They both thought that they had heard so clearly from God, and then finding out the other one totally disagreed, was very hard and difficult to work through.

You may be able to relate to this. Or you may have had a big disagreement arise in another area of your relationship. Maybe to do with where to live, career, how to spend your money, etc. Something that is so huge it will have a big effect for many many years. But you disagree and wonder how to navigate and survive it.

It’s hard.

You disagree and wonder how to navigate and survive it

Obviously, each couple and each decision has its own nuances and complexities. I’m a big believer in saying a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t exist. Nothing is fool-proof for every couple. However, there are good general principles to help us.

If we don’t think about how to navigate through, or how to at least begin to approach these decisions, then we can keep going round in circles. Having the same discussions and arguments without making a decision.

What can Help Us? 

We can begin to approach the big decision by being prepared to:

  • Test Our Assumptions
  • Ask Why It Matters
  • Ask Could I Do That?

Test Our Assumptions

We can easily approach these talks thinking ‘I’m obviously right’. It can be a big decision and if we believe God’s spoken to us, and/or it makes the most sense, then we must be right, right? (Read Marriage Isn’t Really About ‘Us’)

You need to get underneath the assumptions

It will be helpful if we test our assumptions. You need to get underneath the assumptions and ask why you think you’re right. 

Why do you think you’ve heard this? Why do you think it makes sense? Thinking about the deeper beliefs can help both of you understand why you prefer a particular option. Rather than just sticking to our position because it seems so ‘obvious’.

Ask Why It Matters

Often a big decision, like which job to take, has an emotional appeal to it. We want a certain job because that’s what we’ve always wanted to do. Or it seems like it will best suit our ambitions.

This means there is an emotional connection to the decision.

This is normal and understandable. The problem is, there may be two or three other legitimate decisions as well. Our emotional connection may be why we favour a choice that seems ‘to make sense’ and not pick other options, even tough they’re just as good.

There is an emotional connection to the decision

Realising that this may be a factor is important.

Ask Could I Do That?

Getting your partner to follow through on your choice may be their worst nightmare. It may mean they need to do something they really don’t want to do. But you doing their choice may be okay, even if it’s not ideal.

This is important. Because thinking through each other’s choice, positively and negatively, will help you see what the best choice or compromise is for your relationship.

Is one option just too unthinkable for one of you?

You can’t just think through big picture surface level stuff, but the deeper impact and outworking of the decision. Is one option just too unthinkable for one of you?

These are just some bits of advice, and they won’t give you an answer. But they will help you think through the out-working of each decision to a deeper level, and avoid the ‘this way makes mores sense, why can’t you see it like I do’ frustrations.

Imagine if…

It would be great if there were never any disagreements or arguments, but real life isn’t like that. We need to learn to get through disagreements, big and small. The better we get through them, the better and more enjoyable relationships can become. (Read Unhealthy Relationship Expectations We Should All Know )

If there’s a big decision, and you feel like you’re having the same argument and can’t understand why they can’t see it like you do, stop and think:

  • Test Our Assumptions
  • Ask Why It Matters
  • Ask Could I Do That?

What advice would you give to a couple facing a big decision? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 28/12/2016