Saturday, September 29, 2012

Making decisions together

Following our minor revelation that we only seem to argue about little things, I've been thinking about how planning a wedding prepares you for marriage.

The planning process involves some big decisions, and some smaller ones. (True to form, we've only disagreed about the smaller ones - such as the men's ties.) When it came to the where and when, that was easy. In fact, it didn't really feel like a decision. Clearly it was, but it was an obvious one.

The dictionary defines decision as:

  1. A conclusion or resolution reached after consideration.
  2. The action or process of deciding something or of resolving a question

We tend towards definition 1 when it comes to the big stuff, and for me definition 2 is what makes things feel like decisions. The process of consideration can be gradual, and maybe even subconscious. Whilst we did sit down with a spreadsheet about the short listed venue options, we already knew which venue we wanted. The spreadsheets were just to make sure that Gadget had enough information to feel comfortable (he likes to know about all available options).

We're currently making similar decisions in real life too. We 'decided' to leave New Zealand and go back to the UK. We 'decided' that we didn't want to return to the town we previously called home,  and that initially we would need to rent an apartment. There was no direct action or decision-making process that led to these choices, it was just a gradual realisation. We both wanted the same things, so we just needed to confirm that with a quick chat. There was no difference of opinion to solve, and no compromise to make.

Clearly, this won't always be the case, but I think it's a good sign. Whilst we might not see eye to eye about tie colours (or wall colours in the future), we will hopefully be ok with the house we want to buy.  Even if we're not, that's what marriage is about - an equal partnership where both contributors get their ideas and feelings listened to and valued.

I worry that some brides plan their w-day with their mums rather than their man, but I think today's grooms actually want to be involved in the planning process. This creates lots of opportunities to practice your negotiation and compromising techniques - or a lot of opportunities to fight. Wedding blogs are full of brides despairing that they've spent their engagement arguing - and more than they ever have before. But then you've never had to make this many decisions before, so that's probably not a surprise.

I'm trying hard to use these small disagreements as conflict resolution training, rather than simply conflict. And I used 'I' deliberately there - I am the fighter in our relationship. It's what I've grown up with, and it's hard to break old habits. Gadget has grown up with almost the opposite pattern - no arguing, but also very little sharing or discussion. So when we disagree, we approach it from entirely opposite angles. We're both having to learn to change our behaviour - clearly my loud, aggressive approach isn't helpful, but neither is his head-in-sand won't say what I think/feel.

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