Communication in Marriage: Decision Making
Sis. Myrtle Alegado (Host): When your alarm goes off, you wake up and think about whether or not you should press that snooze button, right? Multiple times, every day, we make decisions. They could be small or inconsequential, and then there are those major ones that could be life-changing.
On the website www.goroberts.edu, it states that an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. And as surprising as it may sound, as a matter of fact, we make 226.7 decisions each day on just food alone, according to researchers at Cornell University. For me, I start my day by choosing between maybe a coffee or cappuccino, and whether or not I’ll have toast or cereal, or if I’m actually going to eat breakfast at all.
Now, those are just some examples of the small decisions we make on our own. What about when we get married and have to make decisions with our spouse— especially big decisions? Could it be that much different? How should married couples go about making decisions?
Welcome to Happy Life, the newest podcast brought to you by INCMedia that helps newlyweds navigate through the first months of marriage. I’m Myrtle Alegado and I’ve been married to my husband, Paul, since May of 1999.
Inspiration to make your marriage thrive, you’re listening to Happy Life.
Myrtle: According to www.tonyrobbins.com, in an article contributed by David Hilton of Life Marriage Retreats: In a relationship, the number of decisions we make on our own may decrease significantly, not because every decision must be made together, but we now consider the impact of our choices on the other person. Now, why is it so important that we give great care to the choices we make as a married couple?
In an article “Decision-Making In Marriage” written by Dr. David Isaacs on www.familylifeinstitutes.org, it is usually said that bad decision-making is one of the leading causes of problems in matrimony. As part of our ‘Effective Communication in Marriage’ series, in this episode we’ll learn about decision-making as a newlywed couple.
And to share with us their experiences as a married couple for three years now, here with us today from Calgary, Alberta, Canada are Patrick and Zandrhea De Guzman. Welcome to Happy Life, Patrick and Zandrhea! How are you both today?
Zandrhea De Guzman: Hi everyone! It’s so great to be here.
Patrick De Guzman: Hey, we’re doing good!
Myrtle: Good to hear! We’re happy to have you here. So, it’s normal and common for newlyweds to face a lot of firsts, new beginnings, different opportunities, and big decisions as a couple. So, Pat and Zandy, can you share with us some examples of major decisions you’ve made together, and how you went about them?
Patrick: Sure, I could start with our wedding. I guess that probably was our first big decision that we had to make. Knowing that we wanted to pay for our wedding ourselves, you know, we had to make cuts, right? And so, some of the things we were considering were how many people could we invite, what is our budget. As grand of a wedding we wanted, we also wanted to make sure that it’s within our budget. So, I want to say, yeah, maybe the wedding planning alone. Also, really, where do we choose where to live?
Zandrhea: Definitely, yeah. That was one of the big ones. I mean, I guess from my end, both of us, we’re both working so it would be possibly our careers, what we want to do in life—if that affects either of us—what we think of, our dreams, our aspirations when it comes to our careers. So that’s… Yeah, those were big ones for us.
Myrtle: Can you share with us what your careers are currently?
Zandrhea: I’m currently a legal assistant at a law firm.
Patrick: And I’m a multimedia developer.
Myrtle: And then you’re juggling your careers and trying to adjust to married life. And do you also have hobbies on the side?
Zandrhea: Yes, I like to take photos. So I guess you would say I’m sort of an amateur photographer. So, I kind of chase that when I’m not working.
Myrtle: That’s awesome.
Patrick: I feel like there’s no shortage of hobbies. I’ve recently gotten into filmmaking before that. I’m still doing it. I like to paint. Yeah, so there’s a lot of stuff there, and I guess Zan just picked up a…I guess she’s a plant lady now? I don’t know.
Zandrhea: Oh yes.
Zandrhea: Now I’m also a mother of plants. [laughs]
Myrtle: All of those things factor into deciding, right, how you’re going to juggle, how are you going to make time for everything. And then, you mentioned deciding where to live. Did you have that discussion before you got married, and how did you come to a decision on that?
Patrick and Zandrhea: [laughs]
Patrick: There’s a lot there. Because the thing for me is I’m very logical in a sense, and Zan is a…
Zandrhea: I’m a free spirit. [laughs]
Patrick: There we go. That’s a good way to put it. On the moving part, that one’s kind of interesting. So, I like to stay in one place. Zan doesn’t. Well, that’s not true.
Patrick: She likes different things.
Zandrhea: I like experiencing different areas of the city, apparently. [laughs]
Patrick: Right. Obviously, after our wedding, one of the bigger questions that we had was, you know, ‘where would we live?’ Initially, we lived downtown, and that’s primarily because that’s where we worked and that’s where, I guess, everything is. Within like first two, three years, we probably moved three times.
Myrtle: Oh wow.
Patrick: It was fun.
Zandrhea: Was it three times? I think it was two.
Patrick: I want to say four, but I’ll give you a discount.
Zandrhea: Okay, three times, whatever. It’s fine. [laughs] Yeah, and you know what though? With that, I feel like it was hard for me to convince Patrick when I wanted to move, only because when you’re a newlywed, you don’t really know what you want in terms of space. And again, with the whole budgeting thing, we’re like, let’s maybe live downtown but go to a place that we can afford. With… when we’re newlyweds, because we’re learning how, I guess, to split our budgets, and how much space do we really need? We didn’t really know that at first. We just thought, ‘Oh this is a great location. It’s within our budget. Let’s go here.’ But, within, I think, within six months I was like, “We bought way too much stuff and I think we’re going to need to move.” So…
Myrtle: And you needed a bigger space already? [laughs]
Zandrhea: Apparently. Well, I mean, I think if you go from a 550-square foot house or a condo, and there’s two of you, and one of them likes to paint—and I’m not blaming that on you. [laughs]
Patrick: You know, I’ll take it. It’s fine.
Zandrhea: It was a lot of our stuff that we accumulated in our first year of marriage. It was kind of, we outgrew it really quickly. So, yeah…
Myrtle: So, you obviously convinced him somehow, because you said you did move. So, how did that discussion go and, you know, what did you do to convince Patrick that it was a good decision for you both?
Zandrhea: Maybe I’ll talk about our third move? I wanted to live near my parents, my family. I have a small family, so they would occasionally come visit us and it was too far for them at times because of church. We would only see each other on church days, so I thought it would probably be best to be in the neighborhood closest to my family. So, I had to really convince him. Aside from the fact that, you know, of course we’ll be near our family and we’ll be able to see them more often, I had to be more specific in the reasons why I thought that it was a good decision. As Pat mentioned, he’s a logical thinker, so he’s the type of person who likes to see what you mean by ‘this is a good decision.’ So, I just made it seem that we were saving money and we would spend less on gas. I made a…I guess I’ll let Pat talk about that. [laughs]
Patrick: Okay, so here: Is it further away from work? Yes. Did we save money? Actually, no. But for some reason we’re happier and, I mean, I’ll take that over anything else. Like she said, we’re closer to her family. If they need something, we can be there and vice versa.
So, this is how she really convinced me. I like numbers, and so she decided to put together, I think it was an Excel spreadsheet with literally everything from, ‘hey, this is how big our tank is, this is how far our travel is everyday, this is how much gas is between now and I don’t know when.’ And so, I looked at it and I just said I was really impressed. So I [said], “You know what, let’s consider it.”
But the funny thing is, we saved money because of the errors in her calculations. Most of her calculations were based off of kilometers, with exception to maybe one number, which was in miles per hour. And, at this point I just said yes, because she actually tried and that’s good enough for me.
Myrtle: Hey, it sounded like it, yeah.
Myrtle: No, you put a spreadsheet together. That’s impressive to try and convince your spouse, you know, that these are the reasons that I think it would be a good idea. And numbers speak volumes sometimes, right? So, hey, A for effort, Zan!
Myrtle: But you know, it really is nicer to live closer to your families, especially in the beginning, because you have that support system, right—especially when you’re still adjusting. But now, you’re in your third year of marriage. Are there any methods that you follow in making your decisions together?
Patrick: So generally, I mean, we decide everything together. You know, there are smaller decisions that we kind of make, that really doesn’t affect, I guess, money, or anything that’s permanent. And so, those things we do independently. But, for the most part, I’ll look at finances. I don’t know why. I find comfort in numbers, it’s like a blanket.
Patrick: [laughs] And so, I look after finances and tech. I just, I Iove research. I want to make sure when we invest or purchase something, it actually lasts. On the other hand, Zan takes care of us actually, you know, staying alive.
Patrick: What I mean by that is, you know, all the things that are actually essential, like food, are we.. you know, the things that matter. I just, I take care of the other side of that stuff. Yeah, I don’t know, I mean, we make decisions together.
Myrtle: That makes sense if you’re going to play to each other’s strengths especially if you’re a numbers person and Zandy doesn’t want to touch it, that’s fine, right? So, you also said that you collectively decide on things together, but you also kind of pinpoint your strengths.
Zandrhea: I’m an extrovert, Pat’s an introvert. I feel like understanding how he handles situations and why his mind goes there, to decide certain things individually for him. And, I like to do things on a whim. I like to be, like “Oh, I’m just going to just do this,” and if it’s something not as important, like buying clothes or something, or something for the house,-
Zandrhea: -I’ll be like, “You know what, it’s a good week. We’re going to do this,” but I’ve definitely learned a lot more about making proper decisions, especially thinking long-term because, you know, my decisions aren’t my own when it comes to life planning, I guess. Me and Pat, we definitely are more on the same page now after a couple of years of, just like, being patient, I guess.
Patrick: I think we’re on the same book.
Zandrhea: Oh. [laughs]
Patrick: Slightly different pages. You know what, we make it work.
Myrtle: So, how do you both get to a point where you know that you’ve made the right decision, or that you feel like, you know, that you’re making the right choices together?
Patrick: I think the right decision doesn’t necessarily serve either one of us specifically. You know, like, when we think of what’s the correct thing to do, it’s more about, again, long-term. If we do this, will this benefit us in the future? Again, whether or not that was my idea or Zan’s idea, I think it doesn’t matter to either of us, you know. We just want to make sure that we come up with the correct decision. We’ve also learned to be really, just open. We talk about things now. When we were first dating, I…I’m like a shell. I keep things to myself. Pretty much one thing we’ve done after we got married is we communicate more.
Zandrhea: I think in the beginning, I was over-communicating and Pat was like, “I just want to think about it”, you know? “Let’s just, like maybe we’ll put this aside for now and we’ll talk about it when I’m done.”
Myrtle: So, he tables things and you’re like, “Let’s go. Let’s talk about it.” [laughs]
Zandrhea: Yeah, I’m like, “We need to decide now,” and he’s like making charts in his head.
Zandrhea: Numbers guy, right? So, now, I’ll give him his space. When it’s a big decision and you know, it’s something that we have to really need to think about, I’ve definitely learned how to kind of give him that chance to think about it first before he comes up with his, like what he wants me to understand, that kind of thing. I guess for myself, I just assume everyone just thinks the same way that I do. Maybe that’s just, that’s most people right? Just read my mind. But, you know, no one’s a mind reader.
Myrtle: For sure, yes.
Zandrhea: You definitely have to, like, be specific on what your thoughts are. Even now, yeah we’re in our third year of marriage, sometimes I still have times when I struggle with saying how I feel, but it’s definitely a work in progress and Pat’s been really patient with all the words that I need to tell him, like, ASAP. [laughs]
Myrtle: Well I definitely think that a lot of couples struggle with communicating, you know, how they feel and where their minds are at with decision-making and trying to get their spouse on board.
Myrtle: To give us a deeper understanding and guidance of what the Bible says on how married couples should go about making decisions, let’s welcome a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ, Brother Felmar Serreno. Hi, Brother Felmar, and welcome back to Happy Life!
Brother Felmar Serreno: Hello, Sister Myrtle. Here we are again on Happy Life, the fourth episode now, if I’m not mistaken?
Brother Felmar: And we have Brother Pat and Sister Zandrhea with us. Again, thank you for joining us, and for sharing with us your experiences and what you’ve learned through your three years of marriage so far. And, I’m sure many newlyweds tuning in at this moment can relate to what you’ve experienced.
You know, in this part of our podcast, we’d like to direct everyone’s attention to this aspect of marriage that will be presented to us by the Holy Scriptures. What is a teaching from the Bible which husband and wife should remember when making decisions? Here in the Book of Ephesians, chapter 5, the verses are 33 and 22 from the Good News Bible:
But it also applies to you: every husband must love his wife as himself, and every wife must respect her husband…Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord.
[Ephesians 5:33, 22 Good News Bible]
Brother Felmar: Here, we are reminded about an aspect of marriage as designed by God— that the husband is the head or leader of the relationship. Therefore, when making decisions together, as a married couple, there should be no ‘power struggle’.
Can husband and wife talk it out; deliberate the matter at hand before rendering a decision? Absolutely! Should such discussions turn into frequent arguing and a struggle for power? Absolutely not! For example, if it is due to the wife not respecting her husband’s authority as the head of the relationship.
But note to the husbands: God has appointed us as the leader in the relationship, so let’s be a good leader. As the Bible said earlier, “Every husband must love his wife.” And based on 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 4 from the New International Version, “Love is patient, love is kind.”
So, husbands, let’s be patient. Let’s listen well and give our undivided attention to our wife when she’s expressing her opinion. Let’s be kind to our wife; be considerate and value her suggestions and insight.
When both sides have been heard on a particular matter, then it is the responsibility of the husband to take the lead in rendering the decision and it is the responsibility of the wife to support said decision.
When we follow God’s design in marriage, there will never be a struggle for power. Rather, peace and harmony will be maintained.
More importantly, what must husband and wife remember before making decisions, especially on matters that will have a big impact on our life and our future? In the Book of Proverbs chapter 3, verses 5 down to 6:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
[Proverbs 3:5-6 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar: In all our ways, in the decisions we make in life, let us not rely on our own understanding. Instead, let us trust in God. That’s why being prayerful is important. And praises be to God, many married couples in the Church Of Christ are doing this, like Brother Patrick and Sister Zandrhea. By establishing devotional prayer, married couples are praying together on a daily basis. Now, just in case some newlyweds out there who are listening in are not doing this yet—establishing a devotional prayer and fulfilling it regularly—may this next Bible verse inspire you to do so.
Why be prayerful? Why should we always remember to acknowledge God and seek His guidance? Listen, please, to Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11 in the Good News Bible:
I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.
[Jeremiah 29:11 Good News Bible]
Brother Felmar: What we read here is the declaration of the Lord God Himself. According to His pronouncement, He is the One, first and foremost, Who wants to give us prosperity and a future. And let’s not forget, the Almighty God is the only One Who has the ability to give us a blessed future. So in all our decisions, may we always include God, consult Him through His words written in the Bible, and trust in Him.
Myrtle: Once again, Brother Felmar, we thank you so much for these words, these reminders and teachings, from the Bible.
Brother Felmar: Thank you again for having me on Happy Life. God bless to all.
Myrtle: So, you know, Patrick and Zandy, we heard about being prayerful. Can you share how prayer factors into your marriage?
Patrick: For sure. Devotional prayers are very personal, at least to me. Maybe, one of the things that changed when we got married is that we needed to start praying together. It stops being about what I want, what she wants. It’s really more about what we need together. And so, I think couples should pray together, and really, that’s just how you show that you are one in front of God, right?
I guess, maybe more recently, some of the things that we’ve been praying for is just how blessed we are. We know that, we know the situation of the world but, I mean, here we are—we’re healthy, we have jobs, our families are still well. Wherever they are, they’re healthy as well. We get to go to church together. I don’t know, maybe someday, we still pray about just the idea of having small copies of ourselves running around.
Myrtle: Ooh, a mini Patrick or a mini Zandrhea? [laughs]
Patrick: You know what? I think they’re mainly going to look like her, but nonetheless, still it’s one of the things that we look forward to.
Myrtle: When you disagree on something, Zandrhea, what do you pray for then?
Zandrhea: For me, I definitely pray and seek for God’s guidance. I guess it’s my personality to just want to talk about things right away. I’ve definitely, those moments when I feel so frustrated or I don’t understand—just to go alone and pray, and pray for guidance and pray for patience. I definitely ask for His help, because by myself I can’t. I feel like I need to understand and I need God to show me that, and I need Him to help me. And so, when I ask for that I feel like it’s been the reason why me and Patrick have been doing well. We’re able to communicate more. That’s another thing that I pray for: that we can communicate and we can talk about these decisions and these plans that we have for ourselves, because without God’s guidance, our plans are really nothing, right?
Myrtle: MMhmm.Well, it sounds like you do keep that communication open between yourselves and that’s really, really wonderful to hear. But, are there some examples, maybe, that you can share? You know, times when you didn’t see eye to eye on things? Do you have some little snippets of those occasions?
Patrick: I guess the odd thing is we sometimes like to pretend fight, and then it just becomes a real fight. Some examples of disagreements that we had is, well initially the moving was one big one. Sometimes we have conflicts on work. Sometimes, we want to take vacations and it’s just unfortunate that sometimes, for me, I have to take work with me. And so, you know, that’s not something that, obviously, I should be taking with me, but just the circumstances call for it.
Patrick: You know? But I think one of the most important things that we’ve stated, even when we were starting to just date or I guess courtship, when we were starting that, we never wanted to argue with emotions. And, what I mean by that is we want to make sure that when we talk about things, it’s about the problem, it’s about the disagreement. I feel like when you bring emotions in, we stop talking about what really matters.
Zandrhea: You know, we really try not to hold it against each other if we don’t see eye to eye. Because sometimes, for myself as an extrovert, I can get really worked up, but Pat really kind of grounds me when it comes to reeling me in to just saying like, “Hey, let’s really talk about this. Let’s not make this an emotional fight.” This is just something we need to just talk about and point out parts of where our opinions are. It’s really helped us to really understand each other and why the person feels that way. You know, I learned from Pat that not all problems are actually problems.
Patrick: Isn’t that nice?
Zandrhea: Really it is, because I’ll be like, “Oh no, I can’t go on,” you know, just dramatic. Because I used to just freeze when a problem would come up, but he’s really just kind of allowed me to look at it in a different perspective. And you know, if we have the same goal in solving this issue, it’ll be easier for us to resolve the disagreement.
Myrtle: That’s a great outlook, you know, to have when it comes to not seeing eye to eye on things.
Myrtle: Disagreements can be difficult to avoid at times amongst married couples, and communication plays a big part on this, which is why we invite all of you to tune in to our next episode where we will focus on disagreements in our ‘Effective Communication in Marriage’ series.
To our guests, Patrick and Zandrhea, we thank you so much for being part of this episode of Happy Life!
Patrick: Thanks for having us!
Zandrhea: Thank you so much for having us. We had fun.
Myrtle: Oh, I’m so glad. [laughs]
And, that wraps up our discussion today. Please continue to share our podcast with all the newly married couples out there and also visit www.incmedia.org to learn more about Christian relationships.
You can email us at email@example.com with the subject Happy Life if you want to send us a quick question or even just say hello.
Thank you from all of us here on the Happy Life team. We’re so glad you joined us today, and God bless all the married couples.