Resolving different preferences in marriage
Not a day goes by when I am asked how to resolve differences when both partners want something different. Differences of opinion and choices (sometimes limited by budget) can lead to HUGE conflict and years of upset and resentment. "I didn't want this kitchen!", "I hate this car, HE wanted it, I never", "I have to walk a dog multiple times per day and I didn't even want to get it, she wanted it for the kids", "Alllll he wants is sex and that's not the most important part of marriage" "We both want to spend different amounts of money on a new sofa and I just want the right one....mine is the right one"
Soooo much potential conflict in marriage, there is a solution: The problem is broken down into two parts
One: Either partners gets attached to a particular outcome and the degree of happiness that they believe they will earn if they get what they want. Two: Either partner makes a sofa more important than caring about their partner
But the first step is to discuss the REAL feelings and thoughts of each partner and discover the truth. Scenario 1)
Her side "I just really like the feel of the sofa, its perfect for our needs, it wont mark easily and I wont need to clean it often and the kids wont really be able to stain it and its been so long since we spent any money on anything decent for the house"
His side "I feel bad that we are again spending money, I felt that's all we have done recently and what with my hours being cut at work, I know we need a sofa, but I just can't justify more than that right now
Meet Angela and Bob, if Angela wants to spend £800 on a new sofa and Bob wants to spend only £300, then they choose to find a sofa that costs £300!
A compromise would be £800 to £300 - difference of £500. So they both agree on £550? Nope that wont work, because Bob is only comfortable with £300 and £550 is £250 more than he is willing to spend so he will feel even more upset about the purchase.
Bottom line for making joint decisions ~ both partners to ask "What will add love to this situation?"
Angela can add love by accepting that Bob isn't ready for the higher purchase and work together with him to save for the sofa they really want - she would choose not to be resentful about this choice, only if she wants to be happy of course Bob can add love here by helping Angela clean the sofa or taking over the cleaning of the sofa - he would do that as a gift to Angela knowing she has a different standard of cleanliness of the sofa to him and even ask her how she would like it cleaned
Scenario 2) Both partners like different sofas, price doesn't matter as they are the same price Choices available: 1) Avoid it completely - Don't buy a sofa
2) Be willing to buy the sofa your partner wants and see it as a gift to them, loving gifts have to be given freely and not 'counted' as a score or points in the relationship - if you can't do this then time has to be spent exploring again feeling and opinions about each others taste and motivation to buy For example ask: Why is that particular sofa so important to you? What do you like about it? How would you feel if you had the sofa? Can you find a way to be happy if you didn't have the sofa? Keep going at this until both partners feel heard and understood, with more understanding of wants and needs, then a solution almost always presents itself. Selfishness is born out of believing your partner doesn't care about you, never about the sofa.
3) Buy both sofas
The 3rd choice misses an opportunity to love your partner which is ALWAYS way more important than a sofa isn't it???