Learn to Think Together
“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” Robert C. Dodds
Marriage is like two rivers that join together, and partners need to be willing to flow in the same direction. Daily we make choices that affect the course of our marriage. And making those choices together enriches our relationship.
We discovered years ago that input from two was much better than input from one. But it’s not easy! You see, we each have our “own mind.” We each want our “own way.” Paul encouraged the people at Philippi to work at becoming like-minded when he wrote, “make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Philippians 1:1-2). Today we need this same love, to help us be like-minded—to think together when we don’t think alike.
So how do we make decisions in our marriage? Carefully, very, very carefully! When we make important decisions together, we are more committed to acting upon them. But thinking together when we don’t think alike is hard work! Every couple needs an effective system for making choices when you disagree. While good communication skills are vital, you also need a way to work through conflicts and disagreements when you don’t think alike.
Following are the four steps we use when we have to make an important decision:
· Step One: We clarify the decision to be made and then research it. Actually, we define the problem by writing out what it is we are trying to decide.
· Step Two: After getting all the relevant information we can find, we talk about it. That’s the most important part—to consider and discuss each other’s personal wishes, priorities, and values. We try to consider both the facts and our feelings about the issue at hand.
· Step Three: We explore all the available alternatives and select one to try. Sometimes it’s an obvious mutual choice, but most of the time we compromise by both giving a little.
· Step Four: After coming to a mutual decision, we write down what we need to do to carry out the decision we just made.
Remember the proverb, Hope deferred makes the heart sick? (Proverbs 13:12). Nothing is more discouraging than to make a good decision and never carry through. So once you’ve made a decision to act, don’t procrastinate. Choosing to make decisions together can be a valuable part of your marriage game plan. Trust us, it’s one decision you’ll be glad you made!