How to Handle Decisions
One of the biggest jumps to make between the single life and the married life is the transition to shared decision making.
I’ve shared many times before, both here and in “The Transition,” the story about Alison and I’s fight over menu planning. (Short version: I thought she wanted to spend too much, she thought I was demanding that we budget too little. We let her have control and a budget and everything worked out really well… especially for me). The point of the story, and I’m sure many other instances from our young marriage, is that decisions need to be made together, but they can be managed individually.
“There’s too many cooks in the kitchen.” Sometimes even two cooks is too many. With many decisions, the execution is best done by one person.
The best way to handle the many complex issues and demands that your marriage will face is to make major decisions together and delegate the implementation to one spouse.
- Spouses should always know what’s going on. As a team, you can only work at your best when you’re both in the loop. You make better decisions, you communicate better, and the transparency introduces harmony into the relationship. When it’s a good decision you’re working on (i.e. a vacation or your dream home), your spirits are lifted. When it’s a challenging decision (i.e. illness or discipline) you share the burden.
- Not everything needs two managers. You and your wife agree on the budget every month, but do you both really need to be monitoring the checking account and updating your tracking software? Do you really both need to do the detailed menu planning and grocery planning?
- Delegate to the spouse with the strength. We each bring strengths to the table. When a couple delegates implementation to the spouse with a strength in the particular area, the family wins. When Alison and I delegate menu planning to Alison, we all eat better. When Alison and I delegate budget tracking to me, we all have access to budgeting software that’s up-to-date.
- The spouse who isn’t responsible should maintain periodic check-ins. Once implementation is delegated, the non-responsible spouse isn’t off the hook. They should check in periodically to make sure everything is on track and that they’s in the loop.
Being a couple and being a family means doing what’s best for everyone. By making the major decisions together and delegating implementation, you can avoid fights and move your family forward.