We will all find ourselves, some sooner and some later, at a crossroad in our marriage where we vehemently disagree with our spouse and still have to make a decision.

The first time I remember being confronted with this issue was when we were trying to decide when we would move back home from living in China.  My husband and I wanted completely different things.  If our lives depended on it, we were not going to agree, yet we still had to make a decision together.

During the period when we were wrestling with this issue, our conversations centered around a framework that we had and have utilized over and over again when we need to make a difficult decision in our marriage.

Here are 4 tips on making a decision in your marriage when you both disagree:

1. Clarify the issue.

This one is so important.  My husband and I  had found ourselves knee deep in a disagreement, trying to find a solution, and when we took a minute to clarify that issue (and what exactly the place of disagreement was) we found that it was either minuscule or that we were totally miscommunicating altogether! Clarifying the issue will help you both be able to focus on what is important, set aside what isn’t, and hopefully reach a resolution.

2. Ask yourself, how much do I really care about this?

Opinions are merely that, opinions.  You or your spouse may have strong opinions, but at the root, you may not care tremendously about it.  Ask yourself this question and answer honestly.  If you deeply care, then verbalize that to your spouse.  If you are indifferent, verbalize that as well, and consider going with what your spouse wants.

3. Ask yourself, what am I willing to give up or trade off?

We want to believe that we can have it all, but the reality is, we can’t. So, decide what you’re willing to give up.  Talk about your negotiables and non-negotiables. What can you trade off?

4. Brain storm possible solution.

Brainstorming is always worthwhile.  Ideas stretch your mind and help you think through new pathways that you haven’t previously thought through.  Think about your best ideas and ask your spouse if they have any ideas, too.  You may not get your number one pick, and they may not get theirs, but it may be possible for you both to agree upon what is seen as the second best option.

Making decisions can be a major challenge in a marriage, especially when both parties disagree and want different things. But decision making, even when it’s tough, can foster open lines of communication and strengthen your bond together through the process.