Couple Decision Making

Couple Decision Making WP

Behind every behaviour or decision that you make, is a value; something that you hold in high esteem and is advanced in some way by the action.

For example, making the choice to work back late, may reflect any one of a number of values, such as:

  • having pride in doing a job well,
  • reducing financial debt,
  • avoiding anticipated conflict at home, or
  • being appreciated by colleagues

All of these values deliver a good of some kind. Your values are influenced by your upbringing, gender, personality, experiences, conscious choices and your emotional needs, fears, desires and dreams. While there are some ‘universal’ values, like being loved for example, your value set will be unique to you.

Conflicting Values

When you disagree about something or can’t understand why your spouse behaves a certain way, it is a sign of conflicting values, or a ‘value divergence’. Before you can address the conflict, you will need to clarify your own values. A simple process of self-interrogation can help you:

  1. What do you want? This question forces you to take ownership for what you desire.
    E.g. I want to be admired by my colleagues and to be successful in the eyes of my father.
  2. Why is it important to you? Where does this value come from? In other words, what are the underlying values? Every choice will have some benefit. Identify what good will come from doing it this way. It also helps to know the source of your value, for example: your family of origin, past experiences, religious beliefs, fears, hopes.
    E.g. I feel better about myself when others admire me. I feel accepted by my father. My father worked long hours.
  3. How strongly do you feel about this value? Use the scale of 0-10, or descriptive words to indicate the importance of each value identified.
    E.g. Admiration = 6, Approval of father = 9

Once you ‘decode your behaviour’ and identify the values, you will have a better understanding of yourself and what is motivating you. You can then look at trying to understand each other and what values are most important to you.

Embracing your Spouse’s Values

Once you have identified and shared your values with each other, the next step is to embrace your spouse’s most important values, honouring them as your own. Usually, it is not so difficult to see the good in the others values as they always have a positive good as their goal. Then you are in a position to evaluate the best way to act on those values.

To return to our example… Working long hours is one way to win the admiration and the approval of your father. However, it has some negative consequences such as neglecting the your spouse and children, your physical and emotional health; values that your spouse has. Are there other ways to honour these values as well as the values of your spouse ? Perhaps you can put some boundaries around how many work nights you have, or perhaps going into work early rather than staying late accomplishes the admiration and father approval you seek, without the family feeling neglected or your health suffering.

Brainstorm together to identify a number of different ways that honours the values of both parties and choose the one that best advances your unity.

Unity – the Most important Value

We call this the ‘trump card’. Among the hundreds of different values you may have, the one that is most important is your unity. If you are serious about your marriage, a value for unity trumps all other values. And so unity is like the litmus test for any decision; will this choice advance our unity? If the answer is ‘Yes’, its a choice that will serve and your marriage well, drawing you closer together.

The call to unity is a call to be predisposed to see things from a couple perspective, taking the other into account and embracing that which affects one as affecting both.

When you make what is important to your spouse important to you, they will feel important to you.

It is a powerfully loving act and the first step on the journey to developing couple values. Deliberately choosing to make what is important to one, important to both, is the way you can intentionally develop your coupleness. It is a conscious choice to accept and embrace the other and to honour their values as we would our own.

Francine & Byron Pirola

Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links. For Media Enquiries Please Contact us here

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  1. Christine Kuan on August 20, 2022 at 9:39 am

    We just used this yesterday when talking about our preferred ways to meal prep!! Trivial disagreements became an opportunity to value each other and grow closer <3

    • Francine & Byron Pirola on August 23, 2022 at 2:39 pm

      Brilliant! We love to hear these skills being put into action. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Bob Ewald on August 19, 2022 at 11:26 pm

    After 36 years of marriage, I can attest that this is spot on! The unity from the commitment is key.

    • Francine & Byron Pirola on August 23, 2022 at 2:40 pm

      That’s quite a record Bob. Keep the love going – our world needs your witness!

  3. Dianne Hukins on September 13, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Francine and Byron
    I’m not sure if you are active on here anymore but want you to know this link to couple decision making popped up in my Facebook memories today .My 31 year old Granddaughter came and sat outside my door last night while I sat just inside.She was struggling with her boyfriend over big decisions ( buying a house) which brought her to their relationship.I suggested she concentrate on their relationship and couple decision making.So I sent the link to her just now.
    Thank you Lord.The Holy Spirit is doing His thing
    .with gratitude
    Dianne Hukins

    • Francine & Byron Pirola on September 13, 2021 at 3:59 pm

      God bless you Dianne! It is so encouraging to hear that this is helping your family. The Holy Spirit sure knows what’s he’s doing even if we don’t!

  4. Sarah Ball on November 1, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I can agree with all of this, but when you don’t have the same issue’s your not on the same page. It’s one thing to want or desire a good relationship, but if you don’t really commit your not proactive…

  5. Isabel on October 16, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Thank you Francine and Byron 🙂

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