How We Design Our Life Together as a Married Couple Even Though We're Really Different People

A picture of the author and her husband at their wedding taken by Trevor Mercer

I’ll start here. Consider this a disclaimer, if you will: we don’t have everything figured out.

I’m writing this article to share what we’ve learned the hard way to help other couples. Despite many long and sometimes confusing conversations, I love our life together. We both take active roles in designing it. This is how we learned to design our lives together instead of separately.

1. 50% Power VS. 100% Power

Repeat after me “my spouse is not my enemy even though it really, really, really feels like it.”

Repeating it (sometimes) works for us.

Even though it’s not a magical cure-all, we keep it on our minds when starting conversations in our household. It’s so easy to get frustrated and go on the attack. It feels good, but then it feels so bad, and we’re left in the same position we started, making no progress toward an actual solution.

We’ve started saying in our household that if one of us wins, then we both lose.

It’s tough to live by that saying because, honestly, it feels good to win…but then I have to slowly remind myself: same goal, same team, same future.

If we shut down what the other person says, we'll lose valuable insight into the situation. Remember, your spouse is one out of two people with the whole scoop on your life, so maybe they are actually making a valuable point worth listening to.

When thinking about our life, if we shut one of our voices out in the design process, we only utilize 50% of our power. Life is hard, and I would rather make decisions utilizing 100% of our power working together, especially knowing that the person I’m making my choices with cares as much about me and our future as I do.

2. Yeah, We Definitely Have Different Approaches To Life

Like I said in my last point, our life choices only get 50% of our power when we leave the other person’s thoughts and ideas out of our decision-making, but here’s where I get really honest: I don’t want to consider my husband’s approach because he is different than me. He thinks in detail. He can think in detail about the past and about the future. Boring! I’m more of a big-picture kind of woman. You know life timelines and 10-year goals? That’s more my speed.

You can only imagine our conversations about wedding plans. I knew I wanted a fall wedding with a beautiful burgundy color pallet. Meanwhile, he was concerned with each venue's seating capacity. Here’s what I determined from planning our wedding: we needed to learn from each other. He needed to learn how to dream, and I needed to focus a little more.

It was important not to force my husband to magically become a dreamer like me. I really needed his attention to detail to produce the fall wedding of my dreams. He quickly noticed when colors didn’t match, and that man could find a mistake on an invoice in 1.5 seconds. Those are things I struggle to see the way he does. We are different, and it’s good for both of us. It’s good for designing our lives together. We have learned to accept it. So what does this look like in everyday life, you ask?

Well, my husband creates a lot of detailed spreadsheets and pie graphs for me as a visual learner; therefore, I'm able to experience the details with him.

And for my husband, I designed an imaginary dream room. We chant, “dreams are not expectations,” three times before closing our eyes and entering the magical land of dreams. A place where details are no longer important and we can focus on our not-so-practical desires.

3. Please Don’t Say I Told You So…

This one is so important. If you want someone to openly plan their life with you, please don’t say I told you so. It’s hurtful, especially when the person thought it was a good choice for the team. It makes people shut down and stop communicating. For me, I become resistant to sharing my ideas out of fear of critique.

This is something we had to work on. We’ve started openly extending grace when someone makes a major oof out of a situation. Extending grace looks like asking, “where do we go from here?” Instead of pointing out, “we should’ve just gone with my idea.”

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Excited About The Future

Don’t forget that this is all so exciting! You have the love of your life and nothing but possibilities lying ahead. My husband and I try to take agency over our days, remembering that today can be a good day if we keep our focus on the present moment.

I’m not trying to promote toxic positivity because we have had our fair share of gloomy days, but on the hard days, I remember that I have a partner that cares about us getting the life we want, and I want to be present to make it happen too. Life can be full of serious and heavy circumstances, but I’m glad to have my husband with me. Even though we have different approaches to life, we’re excited to pursue the goals we’ve created together.

So go out there, dream with your spouse, and even learn to discuss the details like I am. Do whatever designing your life looks like for you as a couple. Just don’t forget, you’re in this together.