During these arguments, I have frequently observed in the couples I work with that the two partners end up speaking two different languages. She said: “I feel betrayed by your decision to buy a new car when we needed new carpet.” He said: “Let me tell you why we don’t need a new carpet: the old one works just fine,” completely missing her point. Truth is, if he can figure out how to make her feel less misunderstood, she will probably stop resenting him for buying the car instead. But no, he will do this the “rational” way, when, truth be told, they shouldn’t have taken on either project because they had to borrow money for either.
Decisions need to be made together. When one partner is talking the language of feelings and the other thinks he is talking only the language of reason, ignoring all along each other’s point of view, both partners are talking the complicated, indirect and bewildering language of emotions.
I often find myself in a referee position, suggesting to the couples I work with revolutionary concepts like: “Have you thought of a compromise? What would be the one thing you can agree on together, even though neither of you gets his way?”
There is always a fair compromise that can be, with care, reached. A plan can be made to stagger the expenses, or scale back on the amount spent for each project or both. Or both projects may be delayed until there are savings for both. Or one may compromise for a concession that does not even involve money. Or another solution can be found. Good relationships and marriages can work out this compromise for the benefit and happiness of their life together. But if there are any fissures in that relationship or marriage, this will be time when the cracks will stare both partners in the face.