Have you ever passively ignored your responsibility or aggressively taken on more than your 50% in the decision making process of your marriage? Passive or aggressive stances lead to hurt, anger, distrust, and confusion in meeting marital goals. It’s important that, as equal partners, you both take active and balanced roles in voting. By passively allowing your partner to decide for you or define your role, you are not holding up to your end of the marriage deal. Have you ever said or thought:
- I just don’t care, you decide.
- I want (my partner) to pick.
- I don’t know.
- I’m afraid (my partner) will get upset.
- It doesn’t matter what I think.
- I doesn’t matter anymore, I give up.
- I don’t want a fight.
Or have you ever used the ‘silent treatment’ and refused to talk? If so, then you could be holding your partner responsible for something that is actually part of your job description: the safeguarding of your own happiness in your marriage. In other words, it’s your job to make sure you are pleased with the development and direction of the ‘family business’– your relationship. That’s what it means to take ownership. Similarly, you are accountable for conflicts that occur when you arbitrarily override your partner, or independently make decisions about the way your role and your partner’s role “should” be carried out. Have you ever said or thought:
- It’s easier (or faster) if you just let me take care of it.
- This really is the only way we can do it.
- I don’t see why you care much about this.
- I don’t think we have any other options here.
- I’m really good at this stuff, why don’t we just let me handle it?
This kind of taking over when it comes to decision making is just as problematic as neglecting to step up to the plate. Grabbing onto power that is not yours can be a subtly manipulative move or a more aggressive, demanding kind of action. Regardless of your style, insisting on doing things your way is just as much of a roadblock for a healthy relationship as the abdication of responsibility described above. Remember, you are business owners who actively, responsibly and jointly vote, 50/50, on decisions for the good of the marriage.
In designing and building your partnership, consider taking these steps:
- Create a motivating and positive environment by encouraging each other to excel in your respective work, and move forward.
- Base your partnership on honesty, trust, mutual respect, recognition of each other, and support.
- Decide how much time, energy, and effort is needed. How much are you willing to contribute? Someone happy with a ‘bare bones’ marriage will not see the need for as much investment in these areas as someone who may be expecting marriage to make up the bulk of his or her satisfaction with life.
- Clearly define your job descriptions which can be created through a division of chores. If you have trouble starting, consider the responsibilities of overseeing finances, home management and house cleaning, spiritual needs, career goals, personal health and development needs, recreational pursuits, and family activities as potential items for your list of identified chores.
- Base your job duties on the strengths and limitations of each partner. For example, one of you may be good at finances while the other is better at home maintenance. Draw on each person’s knowledge, experience, intuition, and business sense when setting the course you will take together. Decide when the one taking responsibility for a specific area should have the authority to make decisions and choices, remembering to build in room for flexibility as well. Understand, however, that this is never about generating some kind of power struggle; rather it is about creating an efficient and effective system for handling life’s tasks. At some point, you might want to consider doing some ‘cross-training’ in various areas (e.g., finances) to safeguard against running into unexpected problems or having the power differential in a certain area become too lopsided.
The goal is to enjoy a quality marriage. Relying on a 50/50/equal/balanced relationship that has been defined and agreed upon by both of you and that runs smoothly and effectively will allow you to take pride as owners in a relationship that allows you to enjoy life and your time together!