“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
A dominant partner needs to hear, “The two are to become one and YOU ARE NOT THE ONE!” A strong couple bond is forged only when both parties are given a voice and consideration. A good rule of thumb is to, “Let your partner influence you.” No one should have the exclusive say-so in a relationship if the relationship is going to be healthy. Consider the other person and their ideas at the same level as you consider your own ideas and preferences. Agree that you will listen in order to understand and not listen in order to reply or react. To work through an important decision (finances, parenting, priorities, purchases, etc.) and build unity in your relationship, complete the following “COLLABORATE” chart.
First, commit to discussing ONE ISSUE and making no decisions to pull any triggers until there is substantial agreement in the middle column. Secondly, determine to listen and record both “HER” perspective (ladies go first!) and “HIS” perspective without any negative response or negative body language (sighs, rolling of eyes, etc.). List all possible ideas and consider each other’s opinions. Each partner must be willing to hold their preferences with an open hand without demanding their rights or preferences. Otherwise a power struggle will develop. Marriage involves teamwork, not independent unilateral decision-making.
Thirdly, discuss and record any possible ideas or collaborations that could fall into the middle “OUR” agreement column. Seek a “Win-Win,” or actually it may look more like an “OK-OK” agreement because it will not be exactly what either partner preferred initially. Determine to quit making “Win-Lose” decisions where one partner gets their way and the other partner feels disregarded. “Win-Lose” decisions always result in the “loser” feeling resentment and eventually even contempt for the other. Then determine a plan (one month experiment) of carrying out the action steps of the “OUR” agreement and plan to reevaluate after the trial period. You can always collaborate again.
#1 Skill for Shared Decision-making
Instructions: Schedule a time to discuss a decision or problem to be solved. First, agree to stay focused on one issue only (e.g., parenting, budget, in-laws, savings, etc.). Secondly, explain and record the ideas that are “HERS” and then record the ideas that are “HIS.” Thirdly, seek to find common agreements in the center “OUR” column. Determine to move forward with the “OUR” agreements as a short term experiment (one month). Reevaluate and consider a new collaboration and modification after the initial trial period.
ONE ISSUE: ___________________________