Chapter 2: The Power of Making "We" Decisions
Principle #2: "We" Decisions Grow Your Marriage, "Me" Decisions Drive it Apart
"We Decisions" are decisions that both people talk about, and take full ownership of ... and you make them together! "We Decisions", are every day decisions that need to be made in your relationship, that directly "affect" the other person.
"Me Decisions", on the other hand, are decisions that a person makes, then they inform the other person about the choice that "they made all on their own".
"Me Decisions" are one-sided choices, and are always referred to as "that was your idea, you have to deal with the consequences of that bad choice, you're on your own Buddy" (LOL)!
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Several years ago, my wife and I were considering getting a family dog. I had always wanted to get a smaller low maintenance dog, one that was easy to care for, and didn't require a lot of attention (I know, it sounds like a stuffed animal, doesn't it?).
My wife on the other hand, looked back on memories of her childhood, when she had a large "family friendly" dog, and it brought back fond memories of happy times in her life.
So as time went by, my wife began to do research on the types of dogs that are both larger in size, and yet gentle in nature. This was important because at the time, we had six children, and one of them was under a year old. In her hours of research she learned that one of the most popular larger family dogs was "The Great Dane". Therefore she did the right thing, and she shared the information that she found, with me, so that we could make a decision together.
One day, my wife came to me with some exciting news! She had found a Great Dane for sale on Craigslist for only $300. This might seem expensive to you, but in doing her research she discovered that an average price for a Great Dane is anywhere from $600 to $2000 per dog (for dogs with "pure breed" papers). She was very enthusiastic, and because my goal is to be a loving husband, I first listened to her as she told me all about the dog, and then I agreed to "go take a look" at the dog.
We arrived at the address where the dog was living, and knocked on the door (knock, knock). Suddenly we heard what sounded like two very large "deep voiced" animals, with a bark that seemed to be getting closer and closer to us (egad). As the door was opened we were kindly greeted by the dog owner, and were politely introduced to ... "Judah". Judah was about three years old, and if he stood on his hind legs he would have been about 7 feet tall, or more (see photo above). After talking to the dog owner and getting to know Judah a little bit, I let the owner know that my wife and I would be stepping outside for a few minutes to talk privately.
As we walked outside I turned to my wife and said, "Honey, that is not a dog, that is a horse! We have a little baby (pointing to our small child in the baby carrier) ... what if the large horse accidentally steps on, our little baby, that would be bad"? We laughed together, and talked more, and did end up making Judah a part of our family.
But here is the point of my story. I should have, but I "did not", take "full ownership" in the decision to take Judah home. I was not 'fully on board" with getting Judah. I only "agreed" to get the dog, because I knew my wife really wanted him. Therefore any time there were issues with our beloved Judah (like him stealing food off the counters, or the medical bills that went to pay for dealing with his skin allergies, etc, etc), Any time there was a problem, I always seemed to "default in my mind" to thinking ... "Judah was my wife's idea"!
Wrapping it up
Any time that you make a decision that affects the other person, it is so important that you do the work necessary to come to a decision "together". And I'm not talking about agreeing to something, just to let the other person "get their way". I am talking about both of you saying in your hearts, for example ... "Yes, let's buy the house at 123 Happy Marriage Court, I am fully on board, let's do it, together", or ... "Yes, I think it's a great idea for you to go back to school for four years Honey, and I will take care of the kids while you work on your college degree, with class time, home work, stress, and all that good stuff. Let's do it, together"!
Whatever comes your way, if you make decisions that affect the other person, without them involved in the decision making process, it is always going to cause deterioration in your relationship. It is always going to be looked at as "That was your bad idea, I'm not paying the consequences for it. it's Your Problem".
One other thing to think about when you're planning out the "decision making process", is that you can agree "ahead of time", to let the other person make certain decisions without you. For example, my wife and I have decided that she "does not" need to include me in the decision making process when it comes to buying clothes for me. I have been VETO'd in the clothes buying arena, by my wife, by my kids, by my Dog, and by all who knew me, before we were married (LOL).
Your homework for this chapter is to "set aside time" so that you can discuss the questions below that relate to your "plan", for making "We Decisions" (instead of making "Me Decisions").
I strongly "Challenge you", to "do the work that it takes", to ...
1. Agree on a plan for dealing with decisions.
2. Agree to meet again, if necessary, to "Re-Work your plan", for dealing with decisions.
3. Never give up on doing what it takes to make "We Decisions". After time, you will see amazing results, as you "Grow Your Marriage" together, through the Decisions that you make..
1. Can we both agree that making "We Decisions" is a very important part of "Growing our Relationship and Marriage together"?
2. Can you give me an example in the past where you have "felt like", I made a decision that affected you, without getting your complete "buy in" (be sure to take turns asking this question to each other, it will help you reflect on how important this principle is)?
*Note: Saying I "felt like" in your conversation, communicates to the other person that you are merely sharing "your own perception, or your own view", which is not always 100% reality, especially if you don't fully understand "both sides" of a situation.
3. For practice sake, what decisions can we agree on, ahead of time, that do not require the other person's "Buy in" (My example was my inability to pick matching clothes)?
4. Now that we understand how important it is to make "We Decisions", what plan can we put in place so that we can make "We Decisions" together, in the future?
*Example: You could set aside a time in the evening where you talk about decisions that need to be made. It is very important that you both take turns listening to the other person when they share their heart about "why" they feel like their like choice is a good one. Once again it is highly recommended that If you both feel strongly about a choice that needs to be made, that you "take time" to figure out a "good compromise". And if you do agree on something, make sure that you are both agreeing to "100% buy-in", or perhaps you need to agree to "Put the Decision on a shelf", and come back to it later, when emotions are cooled down.
*Note: It is vital in your communication process to not use "blame words".
If you sense that the other person is putting up a defense as you talk, a good question to ask would be ... "Honey, I noticed that it "seemed like" I offended you when I said ________ ... I didn't mean to blame you for what happened, can you give me an example of how I could have worded that better"?
Forks in the Road
In any relationship, whether you are married, engaged, or just dating, there are many, many "forks in the road", where you can either grow closer together, or you can grow farther apart. Making decisions that affect the other person, is definitely one of those forks, and it is something that requires a lot of "hard work", and "unselfishness", especially in the beginning of your relationship.
It is very important to discuss and agree on a plan for making future decisions that "affect" the other person. That way when decisions come your way, you'll be prepared and will be able to "Grow Closer Together", through the decision making process, instead of letting it build a wedge between you.