NOTE: Daniel and Kelly speak to this question on Episode #3 of The Abel Speaks Podcast. You can listen on Apple, Spotify, or your app of choice.
4 ways to respond when you’re not on the same page as your partner.
This is something that we navigate often with families, oftentimes in the realm of medical interventions (see last episode, where we answered, “How do you approach medical interventions?“) but also as parents are navigating relationships with extended family or friends, how to talk to our children about what’s going on, and so on. Sometimes, we just don’t land on the same page initially.
Simple as they seem, here are four ways to respond when this challenge inevitably arises.
Be patient with one another. Give one another space to genuinely pray and process. Time can be our friend.
Assume the best in one another. Fight to respect each other and see value in one another’s opinions, even (and especially) if they are different.
Take personal responsibility to individually educate and equip yourselves on the subject at hand or the decision on deck.
Loop in another trusted couple to help you hear one another, and ultimately, move towards each other.
If we still aren’t lining up as time goes by, how do we break the tie?
Last post, we shared the illustration of a stop light where each parent can land on green, red, or yellow (unsure). What we didn’t specifically address is what happens when if one partner is green, and the other one red? How do we break the tie in – in that sense?
While we don’t want to insert ourselves into your conflict or be your marriage counselor, we’ll just share personally that we gave extra weight to the red lights. And what that was rooted in is a desire not to go against someone’s conscience, or conviction, or whatever you might call it. This stance is rooted in what we stated above – that we were committed to have respect for one another as we both pressed in, trusting that both parties are being diligent, thoughtful, and prayerful.
So if one of us didn’t feel comfortable with whatever it is we were talking about, the other resolved to ease up rather than pushing harder. “Even if I’m bright green, if you’re telling me you’re red, I want to hear and respect that. I never want to ask you to violate your conscience, so that red light will ‘break the tie,’ and we agree pump the brakes until that red light changes.”
To be clear, we never wanted to play that card flippantly, like, “I’m red, and I say no, and so it’s a no! End of discussion.” Again, our aim is mutual respect and mutual understanding, wanting to comfort and hear one another far more than wanting to ‘win’. If one partner feels like they won, but the other feels like they’ve been defeated, guess what? You both lost.
Can you provide a specific, personal example?
There were many times where we both struck bright green or bright red, and it was easy. There were also plenty of of yellow lights throughout our journey where clarity took time. But there was one situation early on in the pregnancy and shortly after Abel’s diagnosis where one of us was green and one of us was red.
There are plenty of parents who might process that situation differently and choose differently, we just wanted to provide a tangible example from our personal experience. For us, we were navigating the decision of whether to have an amniocentesis or not, which would definitely confirm whether or not Abel had Trisomy 18. One partner wanted to have the amnio, but the other did not feel comfortable with it.
One of us is an information junkie — the more the information, the better — which drove the desire to have that procedure (green light). The other was deeply hung up after hearing a disclaimer that there could be a small chance of miscarriage following the procedure (red light). Essentially, “If that is true, then I would not be able to live with myself if, for whatever reason, Abel passed away shortly after that procedure, and we would never know for sure what the reason was.”
So the information junkie did some digging (of course), honestly, in hopes to prove that that wasn’t true and that there was no chance of miscarriage. But ultimately, research affirmed that there is a small likelihood that this could happen. And so, we ended up both coming to a red light in this decision. It took a lot of conversations, and there was a lot of frustration. But we chose to extend patience and mutual respect to one another, to believe the best in one another, and to work through the decision as a unit.
The Lord gives us one another, and that’s a gift. In any and every scenario, extend patience and respect to your partner. Time can be our friend. Lights change all the time. Bear a personal burden of responsibility to take a stance that has been well informed – to not just flippantly throw out a light color, but to genuinely say, “I’ve really wrestled with this. I’ve looked into this, and this is why I land where I land. How about you?” If and when the circle needs to be widened, inviting outside voices in is always helpful. Having trusted counselors and advisors will go well with you in marriage and in life, and this circumstance is no different.
If Abel Speaks can play that sort of role as well, as we’ll always offer, we do hope that you’ll reach out. This is something we are familiar with from having done personally, as well as having walked with dozens and dozens of parents who have navigated this as well. We’d warmly invite and encourage you to reach out by sending an email to email@example.com today. We look forward to meeting you and serving you in every way we possibly can.