Marriage comes with a lot of different parts to it. You and your spouse decide to get married after however long you dated and once you’re wed, you work hard to blend two different lifestyles and backgrounds. Everyone talks about how hard the first year of marriage is. So you start to worry that you might not make it, becoming a statistic in the world of divorce.
After almost seven years of marriage, we may not have all of the knowledge and experience in the world. We might not be able to solve all of our own problems let alone help inspire others. But we’ve found a few tidbits that have made us come closer together, which is all you can really ask.
Our One Question
Max was telling me about his day a week ago, all of the good, the bad and the ugly that goes with construction. He always comes up with ideas for things we could do while at work, whether it’s for vacation (Disneyland is usually at the top of that list) or for business ventures. He went through a long explanation of his thoughts for the day and then turned to me and asked,
“What do you think?”
He’s been doing that since we dated. It’s a simple question and you might be confused why I think it’s significant. Here’s why:
To get me to talk
This may sound crazy but this is one of the best questions to get me to talk. I’ve been through many situations in my life where keeping my opinions to myself was much easier than sharing them. That way I avoided ridicule and criticism.
It drives him nuts when he doesn’t know what I’m thinking and that question triggers the “safe zone” in my mind, letting me know he’s open to my opinions on whatever subject we’re discussing. I can let him know when I’m bugged/angry/happy/excited about whatever is going on and know that while he might tease me a little bit, he respects my opinion.
Decisions are made together
Marriage brings people together which means that every decision made affects the two of them and, when a family comes along, affects the entire family.
You can’t have one spouse making all of the decisions without consulting with the other. One of the biggest things to hold over someone is whoever is making the money is the one who decides where it goes. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you have just as much right to make those decisions because you’re working just as hard even though the pay doesn’t amount to all you do.
You also can’t consult with your spouse and then even when he or she opposes, go forward anyway. Take the time to go over the pros and cons if you disagree and try to see it from the other’s perspective. Chances are you might come up with a fitting compromise.
Decisions need to be made together. Granted, you don’t have to agree on things as simple as buying a candy bar at the supermarket. How much you’re going to spend at the store over the course of a month would be a good start. Budgets need the approval of both sides to avoid bitterness or shame of spending even a little amount.
Decisions about cars, jobs, where to live, how to parent the kids. Every one of those should be made together.
Marriage Needs Trust
One of my favorite actresses is Sandra Bullock and when I think about trust and needing to know what other people think, my mind goes to “Two Weeks Notice”. Hugh Grant plays the owner of a large company that Sandra works for and he calls her out of her best friend’s wedding to ask what tie he should wear. He said something about being able to make all kind of decisions but now he has to know what she thinks.
“I’m addicted. I have to know what you think. What do you think?” as he holds out some cuff links. (About the 1:00 mark).
Like I said before, you don’t have to be this extreme in your marriage or your spouse might want to bop you over the head. But the trust that comes with asking him/her that question can build up a little bit every time, making it easier to understand one another and even easier to make some of the decisions.
We need to work to confide in our spouse, to ask and want to hear what they have to say. That doesn’t mean you automatically agree with everything they say. Your opinions matter just as much as theirs so make them known!
It may take a while for this question to be effective in your relationship but with a little effort, it can open up a world of possibilities. Because marriage is a journey meant to be taken together and any way you can get closer together can make that journey just a little bit sweeter!