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Going for the Win-Win: Decision Making in Relationships

We value strong, healthy relationships, but nothing can damage them more than poor decision making skills. Whether it is a spouse, sibling, long-time friend, or business partner, we want to stay close and feel connected. Going for the win-win is the solution to this problem.

Decision Making and Self-Worth

As a little girl growing up, I absorbed the idea that men were more important than women, even that they mattered more to God. This belief caused me to be hesitant to express my opinion when a decision had to be made, especially in my marriage. I might have a strong desire or a deep need, but I would push it down. I wouldn’t voice my feelings because I believed that it was my “duty” to defer to my husband, and above all I wanted to be “good.”

After years of this, I felt angry and resentful. My self-worth was nonexistent. And that’s when my husband stepped in. “I can tell that you disagree, that you’re angry when we try to make decisions. But how am I supposed to know what you want to do if you don’t speak up?”

no self worth in decision making

Birth of the Win-Win

Because I was stuck in old programming, I hadn’t been able to see that he honestly wanted my input during decision making. He cared about my opinions, my desires, my needs, as well as his own. We both wanted decision making to be a win-win situation. So, we began to make a plan.

We decided that our system for making decisions must be simple and doable. It had to work for both small and large decisions. We both had to fully commit, and the process must honor us each individually and as a couple. It had to produce a win-win every time.

Nuts and Bolts of the Win-Win

Sometimes one partner cares a lot more about the outcome of a decision than the other partner does. For example, if I’m dying for pizza and my husband doesn’t care what we eat, I get to make the decision. We both get what we want. Both of our needs are met. It’s a win-win.

However, not every decision is that easy. Recently, we went through a major remodel, doing most of the work ourselves. As is true of most couples, making all those decisions about floor plans and materials and designs, and how much to spend and when to do what isn’t easy. We get along well, but our tastes aren’t always exactly the same.

So, what did we do? We decided to separately collect pictures of our preferences so we’d have a clear idea of what each other wanted–no miscommunication. Then, we went through the pictures together, discussing our ideas and choices. We immediately discarded anything the other simply couldn’t live with and slowly weeded out whatever didn’t resonate with us both.

Benefits of the Win-Win Method of Decision Making

going for the win-win: decision making in relationships

This decision making process didn’t stop the remodel from being long, dusty, and often very aggravating. But, it did draw us closer together during a process that often drives couples apart.

By going for the win-win, not only were my needs met and my self-worth validated, but so were my husband’s. We now live in a house that we both love, a home that reflects our tastes and preferences as a couple. And, maybe most importantly, there is no guilt. I didn’t get my way at his expense; he didn’t get his way at mine.

Now that we’ve seen the benefits of the win-win in our lives, we never think of making decisions any other way. It’s become second nature. The peace and solidarity that come as side effects of this method are more than worth any small sacrifice we might make.

Stephanie Eddleman

Stephanie is a life-long learner, an English professor, life coach, yoga instructor, and reiki II practitioner. She’s also a wife, mother, and grandmother. Although she has been known to be a little too hard on herself, her sacred intention is balance, grace, and growth. Honoring her own integrity and inner knowing is important to Stephanie, and these principles guide her journey. During her early marriage, Stephanie helped her husband on the farm and raised their three children. Then, in her late thirties, she followed the calling of her heart and returned to school, completing her bachelor’s degree and going on to earn a master’s and PhD. Within a ten year span, she went from stay-at-home mom to college professor, and she is grateful for both experiences. Education was the doorway to freedom for Stephanie—physical, mental, and spiritual freedom—and she passionately believes in sharing with other women what she has learned along the way. You can connect with Stephanie through her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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