Some major life decisions as a couple are easy. Some are hard. Both are best when you pursue to operate as “one”.
Here are two stories from our married life.
One started in 2001, two years before we moved to Boston. I had taken a group of college students from Little Rock, AR. to Boston, MA. When that trip was over I believed that Shelley and I would move there at some point. It was very clear to me.
The “problem” was I also knew that moving to Boston was nowhere on Shelley’s radar. There were other things going on in life that made it clear that she would immediately say “no” to the idea. But, I also knew that she trusted me so much that if I pressed the issue she would eventually say “yes.”
I had to decide what I was going to do. Press the issue or do nothing?
I decided to say nothing to Shelley about moving to Boston. I did not want to talk her into such a huge life change when it was not really what she wanted. Even though she trusted me, I did not want to take advantage of that trust. I wanted to honor her trust.
Doing nothing was especially difficult because I had no idea when the timing would be right to move forward. For all I knew, she would never be up for such a move.
I just knew that I need to trust the process of waiting.
A year later I took another group of students to Boston. This time Shelley was on the trip. We had been there about 2 days when she approached me saying, “We need to talk.” She pulled me aside and said something like, “I know this may sound crazy but I think we are supposed to move here.”
A year later we were living in Boston.
To be honest, I was not wise enough to know that such a profound moment was going to happen. It was God who brought that together, not my skills as a husband.
But I know now, that one of the best ways to decide the biggest things is by waiting.
Here is one of the many things this particular decision taught me.
Oneness trusts the timing of God in the other person. Just because God is not working in your spouse in the same way that He is working in you doesn’t mean the decision is over. It doesn’t mean that there is a problem. It may just mean you need to patient in the process. We are still individuals and oneness is displayed when we humbly wait and trust in the work of God in our spouse.
Obviously not every big life decision happens like this one. Actually most of them don’t.
There are many decisions that we have made that were just as life changing but were hard and took a lot of work.
This past fall we made a major decision in regards to our kid’s education. It was hard. We had recently moved to Fort Smith, causing Emily and James to change elementary schools. We knew that the transition would be hard on them.
As the weeks went by, things at school got worse for them, causing a great deal of confusion and frustration. They were struggling which meant that the entire family was struggling.
We could have easily attributed all of it to the move but we felt like we needed to look at it from another angle.
We began discussing the possibility that public schools was not right for them at this time. We began considering the possibility of homeschool.
As we started to talking about homeschool, we did not have an “ah ha” moment where everything was clear. We knew that people would question the decision. We knew that it would change the family dynamic. We knew that it would be hard. We knew that it would be a risk.
I was never against the idea but I was the one who was most fearful.
One of the biggest fears for me in the decision was the possibility that I would end up teaching my kids that “if life gets tough you can just quit.” I did not want them thinking that.
Another fear was the daily toll it would take on Shelley. Since she would bear the daily weight of homeschool, she would have very little time to herself. I did not want that for her.
I was fearful but I did not want fear to decide. I wanted to listen and trust Shelley.
Regardless of what we were going to decide, we had to wrestle through all of these unknowns. And, at the end of the day, we had to decide.
We chose to move Emily and James into homeschool and it has been one of the best life changing decisions we have made.
Here are a couple of things this decision taught me.
Oneness trusts the decision making ability in the other person. We don’t demand trust from the other but give trust to the other. There have been moments in our marriage when Shelley has said, “I trust you in this decision. I will do whatever you think we need to do.” There have been times when I have had to lean on Shelley and her decision making. The decision and ability to trust can be such a beautiful part of marriage.
Oneness fights for unity not victory in decision making. When both of us aren’t on the same page at the beginning of the decision making process, the goal is not win the other over through arguing. The goal is to come as close as possible to the same conclusion. It takes listening. It takes being teachable. It takes humility. It also takes time, but is worth it.
I never want to take for granted the trust Shelley gives me as a decision maker.
Make decisions as ONE.