Originally uploaded by lorenzodom
*Original illustration by James Sternberg, excerpted from Grave Decisions by David J. Craig, Columbia Magazine, Winter 2010-11
Traversing the Impasse: Learning to Make Good Decisions
New York City, January 11, 2011:
“This way or that way?”
For a brief moment this morning I found myself at an impasse.
I was at 111th Street and Madison Avenue and found that a construction crew was impeding my usual way workward.
Scanning the alternatives, I noted that my second choice was also blocked by snow and ice. Being that I was wearing wingtips, rather than workboots, I was frustrated.
Taking a deep breath, I then realized that I could simply stay on the same side of Madison that I was on, walk a block south and then cross the street at 110th.
It was seemingly an insignificant moment, but I soon realized that it was also a keen reminder about how to optimally make decisions—especially if it involves having to make decisions with others, especially if you are doing so within a relationship.
Being 43 years old, having had dozens of relationships, having once been married for 12 years, and now, being on the brink of getting married again, I’ve learned that often relationships break down because couples do not know how to make decisions together.
And that’s a key difference between couples that are simply dating or living together, and those that get hitched. Matrimony is designed to segue into other sacraments of life—having children, buying a house, moving to the suburbs, having a stable—but rather boring—corporate job, and accumulating innumerous debts and social obligations. In turn, thousands of decisions, both big and small, both on a daily basis and over the long run, quickly become integral to the relationship.
As a result, couples are apt to be challenged from the onslaught. For it is quite natural for each individual to bring their egos, their idiosyncratic wants, needs and desires, and the 20-30-40 years of life experience that have molded their preferences, as well as how-and-why they make decisions. Thus, it should be no surprise that all these things lead to discord, lead to irreconcilable differences, and ultimately, lead to divorce—more than fifty percent of the time.
Hence, being halted at that corner this moment was a good reminder about how to make good decisions—patience, remaining calm and composed, as well as sincerely considering all the alternatives and perspectives (of your significant other) can be vital to making decisions that benefit and help your relationship prosper, rather than tear it apart.
Read more essays, stories, musings, poems and prose like this at Literary Central!.