7 Things You Should Get Your Spouse’s Permission to Do

7 Things You Should Get Your Spouse’s Permission to Do

Experts reveal the touchy topics every married couple should discuss.

By: Leah Maxwell

Every marriage is different, but where they all overlap is on the importance of communication. When you commit to a relationship, you’re committing to a partnership, and that means your decisions no longer affect just you but also your spouse, and maybe the entire family. It might sound like a throwback to less enlightened times to say there are certain things a woman needs her man’s permission to do, but when you frame it a bit differently -- that there are certain things couples must discuss before acting on -- what you end up with is a dedication to working as a team and to making choices everyone can agree with.

No two couples will have the exact same “must-discuss” list, but here are seven things you should consider running by your spouse first:

1. Public vs. private. “All couples MUST discuss which topics are private and which are public,” advises Laurie Puhn, a lawyer, couples mediator, and the bestselling author of Fight Less, Love More. Subjects that are often considered too personal to discuss with even close family and friends can include child discipline, marital arguments, financial concerns, job stress, and health issues. The key, says Puhn, is to “figure out what goes on each list before you have a fight about it.”

2. Large purchases. Couples argue about money more than anything else, so that should be high on the list of issues to keep track of as a team. “Marriage requires teamwork as well as compromise,” says clinical neuropsychologist Christine Weber, PhD. “If one member makes important monetary decisions without the other person’s knowledge, it can undermine the integrity of the relationship and its financial stability.” Each couple will have to decide for themselves what constitutes a “large purchase,” and depending on existing financial issues and each partner’s personality when it comes to money, it might serve to be more specific than not. “Perhaps purchases over $100 require prior arrangement,” says Puhn.

3. Social plans. If you’ve ever gotten into a fight over one spouse committing the other to social plans, you understand the importance of asking your partner first. Whether it’s going out with friends on the weekend, inviting several families over for a playdate, or promising your mom you’ll spend Thanksgiving with her this year, it’s always good to remember that plans that include your husband should be run by him too.

4. Lending money. When you combine two fraught topics (money and obligations to others) into one issue, you get the minefield that is lending money to family or friends. Puhn includes it on her list of issues “ripe for argument,” and if you consider all the ways the situation could turn south, you understand the importance of having your spouse on board.

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5. Housework. “One thing that almost always comes up for women [in my counseling sessions] is the division of chores in the home,” says Weber. “Women often discuss feeling distressed and burdened that their spouses are not helping out enough around the home. As time progresses, the marital discord increases [and] habits [become] more difficult to change.” Weber advises couples to discuss this topic as early as possible in the relationship and to work toward clear delineation of tasks and responsibilities.


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6. Discipline. Even happily married parents often disagree on the best way to raise their kids, and the situation only gets more complicated with divorce and remarriage. However discipline is applied, get all relevant adults on the same page about the who, how, what, and why for your best chance for success. Clear expectations will not only benefit the parents but also make for a stable and secure environment for the children, which is a goal everyone can agree on.

7. Job changes. Whether it’s returning to work, going back to school, switching jobs or careers, or quitting altogether to stay home with the kids or pursue a passion, job changes affect nearly every area of a family’s life. “Couples will need to discuss the financial implications ... coordination of work hours, and possibly child care,” says Weber. She encourages partners to discuss together the positive and negative consequences for both the family and the individual.

Although the above list provides a good framework, the list of “must-discuss” issues is ultimately up to you and your partner to define for yourselves. “Every couple has different things that fall under the ‘joint decision’ clause, and other topics that fall under ‘private, not for public consumption,’” says Puhn. “No two couples are the same, and more importantly, no two people have the same expectations of privacy or expectation of being included in decisions. There is no right or wrong, just what the two of you can live with.”

What topics do you make sure to always discuss with your spouse?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/kali9

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