If given the choice, would you rather have more time or more money?
When planning vacations, do you think more about the money that’s being spent or the memories that are going to be made?
As my husband and I plan and pack for our annual trip to Egypt, we have been having a lot of these connecting conversations. Using these exact conversation prompts has lead us to learning more about each other, our different perspectives and gaining new insight that’s helped us avoid a lot of conflict.
Using that as a tool, I’ve given this to a few of my client couples as well. Every couple, including myself and my husband, have had different results.
For Moe and I, we think more about the memories that will be made but while he would rather have more money, I would rather have more time, even if it means less money.
The issue here is that neither of us are wrong, our perspectives are simply different. By understanding where the other person is coming from, we also understand each other’s intentions and motivations better. When Moe picks up extra flying trips, it takes away time from me and our kids. This could be a source of conflict if he didn’t understand that time means so much to me, especially while the kids are little. It could also be a source of conflict and resentment for me if I didn’t understand that he’s money motivated and trying to provide for our family, give us the ability to buy a house, build more memories and take fantastic vacations every year. I also need to understand that this is a sacrifice he makes because it’s hard to be away from us and miss out on the things our 2-year-old is learning every day, the memories we make finger painting or our oldest cracking jokes every 10 minutes. He misses out on those things too.
When we don’t have empathy and see each other’s intentions and motivations, we assume that our partner is wrong, doing things out of spite, they’re selfish, or so many other negative things. The narrative in our head becomes a spiderweb of lies and assumptions. However, when we look at the intentions and motivations, we see our spouse in an entirely different light. We are able to have gratitude for them, be proud of them, and even give grace where we wouldn’t have normally.
So how do we vacuum up the spiderwebs and create peace? Ask. Ask out of curiosity versus judgement. Start with the two questions at the top of this blog post. Then move to something like:
What does it mean to you when I work extra?
What sacrifices do you have to make when I work extra?
Is there anything that you’re seeing from a financial, emotional, mental, parental, spousal, or other perspective that I’m not seeing?
What are you motivated by?
What are your biggest fears for yourself as an individual, for us as a family, and for us as a couple?
When we have more answers, can see a different perspective and hold space for that perspective with unconditional love and acceptance and our partner can do the same, now we’re moving forward as a team. We’re able to see the bigger picture in more colors than we might have before. The narrative in our head quiets down and observes instead of getting defensive and attacking a perceived problem that may or may not be there.
Remember that there has to be a balance of energy between you and your partner. The gifts, talents and perspectives that your spouse brings to the table is different than what you bring to the table. That’s what makes you work well as a team. If you both had the same gifts and talents, you wouldn’t be unique, and you’d fail because there would be massive gaps that weren’t filled in. By each of you being different, those gaps are closed, and projects are even more vibrantly executed because of what each of you bring to the table as individuals. Own what you bring to the table but most of all, believe in and be proud of what they bring. But first, you have to discover what it is for you to believe in and be proud of.