The Two Lists Becoming One

If you’ve been following my last few posts, you and your wife both have a list of what you want in your marriage and you’ve thought about what’s not negotiable. Now it’s time to merge those two “wish lists” into a plan you can both embrace.

Merge © manostphoto |

I suggest you exchange copies of your lists and spend some time reading, thinking, and praying before you talk about the lists. On the other person’s list, mark through what seems reasonable and doable. Don’t hold back so you can later agree to something on her list in exchange for something on your list. Be motivated by love, not a strong negotiation position. Then label the remaining items. The list below is a starting place:

  • Possible
  • Difficult
  • Not possible at this time
  • Does not seem reasonable
  • I do not understand
  • Modify to something you think you can do
  • Propose a different item you think achieves the same result 
  • Write what you need or must do to accomplish an item

It would also be wise to examine your own list in light of your wife’s list. Change as seems wise

With all this done, it’s time to examine the resulting lists together. Remain calm. Don’t get hung up one issue; if you get stuck, move on to something else. Agree ahead of time to take a break if things get heated.

Remember the more mature spouse always sacrifices more than the immature spouse does. If you ask or expect her to do more, you’re telling her she’s the more mature person.

The goal is not to make the ultimate joint list on the first try. Some items won’t make the list because you can’t agree, and that’s fine. Work on the items on which you agree. Focus on what you’re doing for her, not what she’s doing for you. Be sure to let her know when you see her making progress on something she indicated she’s willing to change. After a few months, redo your individual lists and repeat the process.

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