Monday, August 22, 2011


There are three areas of shared experience that are critical to the health of a marriage: time, money, and bodies. In order to be shared, these resources need to be managed with the "two heads are better than one" philosophy. Shared decision making is not to be confused with asking permission from your partner. It is a process to ensure that the right decision is being made at the right time. Done poorly, it can feel like a child asking permission from a parent. Done properly, you feel like your partner's input helps you to make the best decision.

Time is a resource that often causes much distress. When a couple combines their lives, what each does with their time has an impact on their partner who is often left waiting to find out what their partner is doing before planning what to do with their own time. Co-ordination of time is an act of respect that ensures the best use of time for a mutual benefit. Keeping your partner on a "need to know" basis prevents not only a shared experience but hijacks the potential to make a decision together.

Money is often managed poorly by a couple. Too often, the partner who makes the most money yields to the partner who makes less. For a stay at home mom or for most women who make less than a man doing the same job, this process leads to a loss of power and unilateral decisions. The idea is to make the management of money a shared experience so that both parties contribute to the discussion , regardless of who writes the checks. The family budget needs to be a family affair with both partners agreeing on the budget lines including equal individual expense accounts that bypass the joint decision process. This can be for an amount that the couple agrees upon whether that be $5 or $500. Whoever pays the bills is another decision and can be shared or handled by one party.

The sharing of bodies is an experience that celebrate a relationship or can lead to serious disagreements about sex. If the male approaches the female as a sex object, the female will most likely feel used and retreat. If approached with an attempt to understand what is going on in the wife's life, the introduction of sex feels mutual and satisfying to both parties. Conversely, if the female waits for the male to be the initiator, there is a transfer of responsibility for the health of the couple's sex life from the female to the male. The shared experience is diminished in this case and tension often builds.

To summarize, time, money and bodies are marital resources that demonstrate the couple's capacity for sharing and mutual respect. They are barometers of how well exchanges are being handled. Mismanaged without joint accountability, they will become the source of many marital arguments. Done well, these resources will feel shared and support a feeling of togetherness and well being in the couple.

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