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Being part of a couple makes reaching a decision more rewarding and complicated. You benefit from pooling your resources, but it’s important to mesh your individual styles.

How you decide an issue will often be more important than the specific conclusion.

Learn to work as a team by using these strategies:

1. Be flexible. Value your relationship more than a particular outcome. Be open minded about trying out new methods for familiar activities. You may find that you function just as well doing one load of laundry a week instead of two.

2. Speak openly. Express your thoughts and feelings directly and tactfully. It’s easier to succeed when you have greater knowledge and understanding.

3. Listen to each other. Pay attention to your partner. Resist the urge to interrupt. Active listening is a powerful way of showing that you care about the other person’s wellbeing.

4. Think positively. When you’re faced with a thorny dilemma, remind yourself of what you like about your spouse. Reflect on the conflicts you’ve resolved in the past and reassure yourself that you’ll get through this as well.

5. Develop patience. Letting one person call the shots may be quicker than reaching an agreement. However, it’s still worthwhile to invest the time to build consensus. In the long run, you’re both likely to feel more satisfied. Imagine finding a house that you both love instead of settling for a neighborhood where you’ll miss having a backyard.

6. Lend your expertise. Each of you probably excels at different things. Maybe you take the lead when it comes to negotiating a reduction on your car insurance premiums. Maybe your spouse takes over when it’s time to replace the air filters and brake pads.

7. Write it out. Putting your thoughts down on paper is a helpful tactic. List all the relevant factors and rank them according to their importance. Spell out the pros and cons of various scenarios.

8. Bring in an objective advisor. Strong people know when to ask for outside help. A trusted friend or professional therapist may help you break through an impasse.

9. Evaluate your progress. Pause occasionally to review how you’re doing. You may find patterns that you want to build on and some that you want to change.

Significant Decisions to Make as a Couple

You’re probably okay with choosing your own socks, but there are many aspects of life that call for serious discussion. Aim for unity when it comes to more important matters.

For satisfying results, try making decisions about these matters together:

1. Agree on parenting. Having children is one of the most momentous decisions anyone can make. Your future could depend on seeing eye to eye.

2. Talk about your beliefs. If religion is a key issue for you, you’ll need to let your partner know. You may decide that you need someone who shares the same faith, or you may be able to respect each other’s traditions.

3. Arrange your finances. You’re both responsible for your decisions about earning, spending, saving, and investing. Coming from different backgrounds may even be an advantage if you learn from each other. Maybe you’ll feel more comfortable splurging once in a while, and your partner will become a better bargain hunter.

4. Structure your relationship. Determine what you need to create trust and feel validated. You may want to establish ground rules about how to resolve disagreements or celebrate family holidays.

5. Share chores. Practical questions about daily life can have a big impact. Pitch in to keep your household running smoothly.

Arrive at decisions by supporting each other along the way. You’ll strengthen your relationship and find solutions that meet your needs as individuals and as a couple.

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