On our best days, when it comes to making decisions, Chris and I are two sides of a balanced teeter totter. I'm inclined toward my heart; I'm gut-reaction, instinctively knowing what we need to do. Chris leans head; weighing outcomes, measuring options, thinking through the next steps. When we're good, we're both 85/15. Mostly leaning one way, but able to see the other person's perspective; willing to reach across the midpoint to find one another.
When we aren't good, though? It's not like this. I lean too heavily on my heart, pouring more emotions into it than I should. I struggle to see the numbers and only consider the feelings. Chris moves just as quickly away, getting out his ruler as he takes his planning to the next degree, assuming a little more precision will help him gain his footing.
I've learned that so often our greatest strength as a couple can become our weakness if we aren't careful. Our head and heart combination - one minute our shield - can become our downfall if we let it.
Marriage has taught us that there will be days, months and seasons when one of us is ready for something before the other person is. To be honest, I'm often ready first. Things tend to make sense in my heart faster than logic will allow for it. That's the thing about your gut; it doesn't always leave room for explanation.
When I have an idea, I generally know within minutes how I feel about it and am ready to put a plan into place. Chris, on the other hand needs time to think on it. He wants to talk through the idea, spend time alone with it, pray about the decision.
During our early days of dating, one of our greatest sources of conflict was when I'd share an idea with him and expect to be excited the moment it hit my lips. I'd say: let's wake up and drive to Florida!, anticipating his response to be something along the lines of: You read my mind. My bags are packed. Let's leave tonight instead! In actuality, he'd say something like: That's sounds fun. Where should we stay? How much will it cost? And then I'd be upset, frustrated that he didn't immediately match my enthusiasm.
As we grew together, we learned that with a mix of spontaneity and planning, we're able to enthusiastically take the trip, but remember to budget for it. And even pack road trip snacks!
When we turn away from one another, his questions become insurmountable to me and my big dreams become flippant to him.
So what do you do when it feels like you're waiting for your spouse to come around on an idea and you're already halfway out the door? What do you do when you're approaching a decision totally differently? What do you do when you just don't see eye to eye on the next steps?
Here are a few things that have helped us navigate these moments:
1. Pray about it.
Pray for what you hope for, yes. But also, pray to see his perspective. Pray to see what he sees. Pray to come toward one another and be willing to change your perspectives. Pray for the greater good of your family, as opposed to what you want.
2. Touch each other.
I'm always amazed at the way holding hands or touching Chris' leg during conflict helps us resolve it. It softens me; reminding me he's a human, not a small army.
3. Acknowledge your side.
It helps me so much when Chris admits he's being overly cautious. Saying it doesn't necessarily mean he's going to change his mind, but it puts voice behind his perspective. And, it helps him when I say: I know this doesn't totally make sense to you, but it feels right.
4. Walk away.
If you just can't come together, take a break. Talk about it in a few days. Go for a walk by yourselves. Call a friend who will talk you off the ledge. Do not call the friend who will only agree with you. Call someone who will challenge you and help you move in the right direction.
5. Understand you might have to let go.
It's awesome when you can reach a compromise. But, sometimes one person just has to get their way. One person has to be right. In those moments, we have to open up our hands to the Lord and trust. I love Chris, I believe in his instincts and decisions. If he's feeling convicted before me, sometimes I have to trust what he's saying, even when it doesn't make sense to me.
In the end, if you wind up going his direction and not yours, commit to trying your best to make it work. It can be tempting to pout, but, remember, if it's better for you as a couple or a family, it generally is better for you as an individual, too.