Making Decisions as a Couple Tests the Health of Your Relationship
As two people who have committed to living together, making decisions as a couple is an essential communication skill. Individuals in healthy relationships can negotiate their future needs and wants calmly and respectfully.
Making decisions as a couple avoids misunderstanding, mistrust, and conflict.
You and your partner are of equal importance, and you both need to have decision-making and veto power over important matters.
What decisions fall into the ‘important decisions’ category that are to be negotiated must be decided by each couple. There is no set formula. What is important to you or your partner may not be important to another couple. The main thing is that you and your partner both agree on what is included on the ‘important decision’ list.
If you and your partner have difficulties speaking with one another and making decisions, you are not alone. Many couples lack the communication skills to successfully discuss and negotiate important decisions. Learn more on how to improve your communication skills.
What are some of the important decisions couples make?
Most couples would agree that the following situations require mutual input and agreement:
- Purchasing a home
- What type of school the children go to
- Taking or changing a job
- How to spend holidays
- Significant expenditures of money
- Buying a car
- Where to vacation and for how long
- Moving to a new location
- Inviting friends or family into the home
- Remodeling or renovating the home
Every couple needs to decide for themselves what is on their list of ‘important decisions.’ See the Making Decisions as a Couple exercise below.
Outside this category of ‘important decisions,’ there is a second category identified as ‘delegated decisions.’ These are tasks and responsibilities that are mutually agreed upon by partners to divide between themselves. This is often a very efficient and beneficial way to get things done. For example, there may be a formal or informal agreement that the husband takes care of the financial investments and the wife takes care of the children and makes small to medium decisions on her own, etc.
A third category is identified as ‘personal decisions.’ This category includes minor decisions such as how many pairs of socks to buy, when to go to sleep, whether to eat lunch out or bring lunch from home to work, etc. Trying to influence or obstruct your partner on decisions in this category would be experienced by him or her as ‘controlling’ and be resented.
Here is the Making Decisions as a Couple exercise:
1 . Make a list of five to ten decisions that you think need to be shared and would thus fall in the ‘important decision’ category. Your partner should do likewise.
2 . When you are done writing, talk to each other about what you each consider ‘important decisions.’ See if you can both AGREE on a combined list.
3 . Write your new and agreed-upon list of ‘important decisions’ that require mutual discussion and agreement before deciding what to do or what not to do.
Those items that you agree should be in the ‘important decision’ category can be re-negotiated because of changing circumstances. You can revisit this topic at any time in the future and, together with your partner, review your list and if desired, change it.