Dealing with Decisions? Mid-marriage is defined by too many options.
You could do this… or that. Or another. And another thing.
Analysis paralysis sets in and nothing happens. Nothing. You’re stuck in limbo as a couple because you can’t decide.
Are you and your spouse…
Proactive or Reactive? Or some combination of the two?
With two reactive people you hear a lot of “I don’t know… what do you want to do?” They meander through their days and very few decisions get made until they’re in a corner. Sometimes it’s even hard to choose which movie they want to watch that evening! They may even wonder, “Is this all there is in our life – our marriage?”
In a proactive & reactive combination, they’re usually on the path of the more proactive person – where the reactive person doesn’t feel heard because they’re slower to react/make up their mind, and the proactive person is wondering why as a couple they’re always doing what she/he wants!
The relationship between two proactive people might have a lot of “head-butting” – both husband and wife are taking action and they’re wondering why they’re never on the same page… and they’re saying to others, “we’ve grown apart” because they’re busy doing their own thing.
How can all these types of couples make a decision?
What’s it like in our marriage when we’re dealing with decisions? Well, Robert is the more proactive person and I’m the reactive person. One way we’ve found useful to make an immediate decision is knowing our 3 differentiating Values – those Values we’ve chosen that define who we are as a couple. We look at every decision through the lens of our Values of Loyalty, Optimism, and Discovery (they’re rank-ordered). But that’s us as “Rob and Lori”…
The Values you and your spouse choose will be very different than ours! If you’re interested in determining your own differentiating Values as a couple, we’ve developed a workbook/guide. And we’re in the process of creating videos to accompany you through the workbook.
But there’s something every couple needs when dealing with decisions. Specifically the serious decisions. What is it?
The ability to pray together.
Prayer is necessary when dealing with decisions.
Even with knowing your own differentiating Values as a couple, diligently praying and asking for direction from your Heavenly Father must be a part of the equation.
As humans we don’t know all the details – only God has the big picture view. He’ll lead and guide us if we ask. And if we seek. When we knock and keep knocking to understand and know what He wants in our lives, then the decisions become clear.
What if you’ve never prayed together? Or it’s been a while? We have some suggestions for you HERE.
Just a note: Prayer isn’t a magic solution to get what you want, and neither is God a genie in a bottle. The act of prayer renews your faith. The answers you recieve will shape your perspective. It’s a process that’s simple but not necessarily easy. However, it is necessary.
Pray. Together. Make a decision. Together. Then go for it.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re naturally proactive or reactive. Embrace the opportunity to make a decision together and then go all in.
At a recent bridal shower, we played a game. It involved a bowl full of candies and we all chose three different colored candies. Each color of candy was connected to a concept – and we were challenged to share with the group our responses…
The orange candy was connected to the concept, “Someone you admire & look up to and why.”
A few of us chose the orange candy. As our turn came to respond to the questions, it was interesting to hear stories about who we admired and why. (I chose an orange candy, and told everyone about my friend, Donna.)
One of the ladies talked about admiring her husband. Why? Because he never complains.
“I admire my spouse because he doesn’t complain.”
She went to on to detail her admiration and explained that though he worked very hard, every morning he got up – yet again – to go to work, without complaining.
He didn’t complain about the house, about the children, about a multitude of things in their life that she felt were quite worthy of complaint. She contrasted her response to his, and it was fully evident she respected and admired his non-complaining attitude and subsequent behavior.
This was my first time to meet this lady, and though I’ve never met her husband, boy-oh-boy, did I want to!
What great leadership qualities this man must possess…
When we admire our spouse, it impacts more than the two involved…
There is a ripple effect, which reaches an unimaginable number of people. See – all the ladies, married or not, around the bridal shower table, now know about this man whose wife admires him. You’re reading about this husband who doesn’t complain, and his wife who admires him. (How could I not write about this?)
Do you admire your husband or wife?
Have you ever told your spouse that you admire her/him, and why?
Maybe you’re having difficulty thinking of reasons you admire your spouse… or maybe expressing those reasons is hard for you. I’ve created a downloadable free resource to help you explore this idea. It grew out of a post I wrote years ago, “101 Phrases to Encourage Your Spouse”, and the companion video. This exercise is connected to the 7th phrase, “You’re amazing!”.
It’s a challenge: try something new – it’ll make you a “keeper”!
Everyday Robert and I are seeing couples enjoying life. They’re no longer raising their children, and most are not working full time anymore, (or they could be on holidays) but they are exploring new experiences.
When I chat with these couples about their relationships, after a little while they’ll chuckle, and nod, then say,
“Yup. He’s a keeper!”
Or “She’s a keeper!”
They’re referring to the fact that they want to keep on enjoying life… together.
Most of these couples are trying new things. They’re playing euchre with other couples for the first time. Or they’ve bought a tandem motorcycle (two or three-wheeler) and are doing a drive with other motor-cycle couples or they’re volunteering in soup-kitchens. Some have gathered a “band” together to play the songs from their teenage years, and so many other activities.
They’re doing these new activities together.
And before you wonder, not all things are perfect in these couples’ lives. Sometimes they’re battling health challenges. Sometimes they’re grieving over their adult children, sometimes they’re really scrimping to make ends-meet. Not all things are going well… Yet. They’re still moving forward to try new things – to explore and challenge themselves.
Here’s your challenge: find something new to do with your spouse this weekend!
Then, when you get to the point of life that these couples are experiencing, you too will refer to your spouse as he/she’s “a keeper”!
It’s within your ability. Really.
It doesn’t take any money to
play a new game with another couple
volunteer your time to a good cause
bake cookies together and deliver them to another couple
check out your city guide to see what free events are happening
take someone else’s dog for a walk
take a road-trip just for the day
watch a YouTube video to learn how to juggle, or try some magic tricks
take your camera or smart phones and do a digital photo “hunt” (articles from A-Z)
learn some origami to impress your next dinner guests
visit a musical instrument store and try out some unfamiliar instruments
go to church on Sunday – or a worship service on Saturday/Sunday night
Spouse, kids, siblings, parents, and everybody else who is invested in your future, is influenced by your reaction to what life throws at you. The only option you have control over in any situation, is how you respond.
What’s your response?
Being positive in a negative situation is not naive.
Husbands – encourage your wives!
Wives – encourage your husbands!
Encouragement is positive… even in a negative.
When Robert and I toured the Jayco factory, among our companions were a family. This family consisted of a mom (Roxanne) and dad (Lewis) with 10 kids. (Yes. You read that correctly: ten. Katelyn (22), Marisa (16), Lucas (15), Patrick (13), Quentin (12), Jax (9), Rowan (7), Selah (6), Thiessen (4) & Uynne (2).)
Even more fun is the fact that they’re traveling full-time. Together. In a fifth-wheel, towed by a pickup truck, and followed along by a passenger van. As they travel down the road, their logo states, “Mann There They Go“. (Their last name is Mann!)
In June 2012, Lewis was diagnosed with a brain tumor – it is operable, but suspected to be incurable. The reality of the brevity of life was right before us, so we began searching how we could escape from the “American Rat Race” and really savor each day that we are allowed to have together. We formulated a plan, set it in action and moved forward with great anticipation! Within a few short months we …
• put our house on the market for sale • sold almost everything we owned • packed our few earthly treasures into Rubbermaid containers … • moved only necessary items into our 44.5 ft fifth wheel (MicMann)… • said “Bon Voyage” to our sweet family and supportive friends
… then on November 11, 2012, launched from our ‘sticks n bricks’ house to living full-time in our RV!
What are these kids learning? And what is everyone who meets them learning?
Being positive in a negative situation is not naive.
Since Lewis’ diagnoses, they’ve celebrated 700 days together.
(Not all those days have been positive, because Lewis battles with seizures caused by the mass on his brain.)
They are living their life – grabbing hold of the positive – and leading their family.