LIVING WITH WOMEN
 

DECISIONS IN RELATIONSHIPS


STUFF

The Sabbath,

according to the bible,

was made for man

and not the other way around

which may or may not be true

since I have often found it otherwise


But more surely, in the bible or not,

The Stuff

was made for woman

rather than man

and wiser men accept

and learn to live well

with this earthy fact


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    Theoretically, in a relationship where each partner is equally respected all decisions might be equally made--that is, with equal input from both persons. But gender differences and pragmatics of compromise (e.g., time and energy it takes) often make such equality unreasonable and impractical.

Better, I have found, to separate arenas for decision-making into different categories and leave most choices in each group largely up to the assigned partner. Such categories are reasonably made on bases such as: areas of talents, expertise, and interests, considering overall personality traits.

For example, females are often better with matters relating to decorating and appearances, while males are typically better at prioritizing and managing finances. When so, major decisions in each category may be largely left up to one who is better qualified to make them. Room colors, and furniture arrangements, e.g., might be mainly made by the female, while decisions about budgeting, major purchases, and borrowing money are made by the male.

Or, vice versa. Obviously such categorizing is dependent on embraced capacities of each partner. Sometimes males are in fact better at decorating, and females at managing money.  The point, however, is that certain divisions or arenas for major decisions may be wisely separated rather than requiring every choice have personal agreement and/or compromise.

Other typical gender-based arenas where accepted responsibilities may be left up to one partner or the other include: house versus yard; grocery shopping versus tool purchases; cooking versus car maintenance; buying clothes for children versus a new family car. Again, however, given unique qualities of all individuals, in either instance the deciding partner may be reversed based on capacities and interests.

In practice then, when a decision is to be made, e.g., about buying a new couch for the den, making the choice is largely left to the partner with decorating responsibilities. Certainly, tastes of the non-deciding partner will be reasonably considered (they may go shopping together); but finally, when purchase time comes, the ultimate choice may be made according to prior divisions of categories.

Decisions about category assignments are ideally made consciously through open discussion between both partners. However, factors such as personality traits, degrees of repression, etc., may make mutual decisions about categories impractical. When so, the concerned partner (here I focus on males) should think openly about the choices and consciously decide for himself, so that unnecessary conflicts and/or personal resentment do not follow when daily decisions in any arena are to be made.

For example, if a man decides that decorating decisions are generally in a woman's category, he can consciously opt for her choices without loss of integrity or need to rebel or criticize later. Also, if family finances are largely his responsibility, he can then reasonably set sensible limits about costs and times of purchase, rather than getting caught up in unnecessary squabbles or passively permitting decisions which are financially unfeasible.


Obviously, assigned categories and decisions are seldom as clear-cut as I illustrate here. Often there is considerable over-lapping and there are arenas where each partner has vested personal interests. In these arenas, conscious compromise is the ideal resolution, lest unconscious resentment over unfair domination follow. Arts of compromise are another subject; but here I only commend that a man strive to be reasonable and make his decisions awarely, lest the essential balance in power be systematically and seriously tilted in one direction or the other.

Another relevant issue is differences in embraced ability for decision-making itself. Some persons easily decide quickly while others have extreme difficulty in making up their minds about anything. When so (or with degrees of difference between these extremes), the more conscious partner (e.g., a male reading this) will wisely take these differences into account and seek appropriate balances anyway. For example, if his mate is indecisive, he may encourage and support her in making choices where her expertise and/or interests are obviously greater than his.


ADVICE


Be as conscious as possible--that is, think as openly and reasonably as you can about all choices effecting both partners in a relationship. Then:


-- Don't fall for total dominance or submission in the decision-making arena--that is, don't become the one who "always decides" or who "always gives in." Instead, strive for balance in decision making, as in overall powers. Avoid becoming either a macho-male asshole or a Casper Milquetoast insofar as relational decisions are concerned.


-- Don't run from standing up responsibly for your own position where truly significant differences of choice arise--as they inevitably will in time.


-- Don't let old habits or personality traits (e.g., natural dominance of either partner) take the place of "using your head"--that is, facing all choices as consciously and reasonably as possible.


-- Don't "give in" quickly or "lord it over" a partner when personal values are threatened. Instead, strive for sensible compromise.


-- Above all, "to thine own self be true"--that is, continually respect your own integrity as an individual person. Without integrity, no relationship is worth continuing.


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