love talk: who calls the shots?
In preparation for our wedding, we’ve had several meetings with our Rabbi. We not only discuss the logistics of our ceremony, but also the deeper issues that exist in married life. When we first met him, he asked us if we’d talked about power, sex and money. We kind of looked around and laughed and were like “uhhh…. yes? No? Idk?”
He said that these are three of the most important things in a marriage, and having some understanding about the weight of each is crucial to a less bumpy start, and to understanding one another.
The first of the three he brought up was power. Basically, he asked us who wears the pants in our relationship. We chuckled and said that we discuss all of our issues and are excellent communicators. No one wears the pants, we make every decision together. Our Rabbi nodded and said yes, sure, but you can’t both be making all of the decisions, all of the time. Inevitably, certain things will be put into the hands of one person with more responsibility. In the smallest of terms, the responsibility to cook/order dinner is usually on me. I don’t have to check in with Brandon because he and I both know I will handle it, and it’s just easier to do on my own. Similarly, the responsibility for getting us organized before we travel is on Brandon. Retrieving our luggage from storage, getting our travel documents together, ordering our airport transportation, figuring out what to do with the puppy. See what I mean? It’s easy to grasp the division of responsibility when we think about small tasks. But what about the bigger decisions in life? Where will we live? Where will our children will go to school? How will we choose to invest our savings?
Of course, we should be communicating with one another about all of these choices, but it is likely that one person will have to compromise on some issues, and another will have to take the role of the leader. How do you decide who is going to be in charge of what? Our rabbi suggested that we practice discussing this and working on it before the big day. When we left his office, we talked through the major questions mentioned above and I was reminded about how different some aspects of our childhood were. I am a born-and-raised city girl, but Brandon grew up in the 'burbs. I went to public school, and Brandon went to private school. When the time came for making these choices, who would get the final vote if we each wanted our kids to have what we had? We didn’t land on anything, but we understood his point of view quickly, and learned that compromise wasn’t enough. We discussed how each decision would impact us. We weighed the pros and cons. We recognized that we each had topics we were more passionate about, and others we felt passive towards. It was a great exercise for us as a couple, and one that I highly recommend thinking about, and trying out with your loved one.
What are your thoughts on this topic? And if you're a seasoned pro: how do you and your partner make decisions when you both feel very strongly about something? Share in the comments below.
p.s: did you write your wedding vows?