In any relationship, there will inevitably be big decisions that both partners need to make together. These can include–but are not limited to–having a kid, having a second (third, fourth…) kid, moving closer to one set of parents, moving for one person’s job, leaving a job, converting religions, supporting a child’s gender transition, supporting a partner’s gender transition, embracing a child’s decision to come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer or sharing a home.
Big Decisions Can Mean Bigger Things
In couples therapy, we work to help couples recognize that how a particular decision is made or dealt with has significance beyond that decision itself. It can create a blueprint for decision-making in the relationship. Being self-conscious about what’s happening in those decisions, particularly early on in a relationship, and putting in extra time can help set you up for the long haul.
Not all decisions are easy and sometimes you will feel pain. Sacrifices are key. Sometimes we do something not because we want to or see the wisdom in it. Or even feel like we’ve arrived at a compromise. We do it because we want to build a relationship where we can give more than we get and not keep score. Because that’s what love and a relationship is.
Dealing With Seemingly Unsolvable Disagreements
However, sometimes disagreements can seem impossible to solve. Couples have opposing opinions, in which no one is budging and no one is being won over. There’s seemingly no compromise possible. We help couples look at the deals they made long ago–what they agreed with whether actively or by default–and how that affects their life together now. We help people understand that both the winner and the loser in that decision made that decision (and if that decision sucks–neither one is the winner). Couples, in this case, may have to change foundational things and decide whether they want to continue or operate in that way. And then, we help them with the painful process of changing it.